On the barrier island that protects Titusville, Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge is one of the top destinations in Florida for winter birding. The Visitor Center boardwalk eases you into an introduction to typical habitats on the refuge and provides an easy spot for birding. Short yet broad, the boardwalk follows the edge of an oak hammock to a roofed observation deck overlooking a pond.
Length: 0.5 mile
Lat-Lon: 28.641567, -80.735717
Fees / Permits: free
Bug factor: low to moderate
Restroom: Inside the Visitor Center
The trail can only be accessed when the visitor center is open, from 8-4:30 Mon-Fri and 9-5 Sat-Sun. It is closed on Sundays Apr-Oct, and closed on major holidays. Check out the interpretive displays in the visitor center, and visit the gift shop for field guides!
Take I-95 exit 220, Titusville, and follow SR 406 east for 8 miles over the causeway to Merritt Island. Take CR 402 east for 2.8 miles to the visitor center; the trail starts behind the center.
Walk out the back door of the Visitor Center to follow the boardwalk out to the big pond. It’s here, from the observation deck, you’ll likely see an alligator or two. Look for purple gallinules hiding in the grasses along the pond’s edge, and little blue herons stalking the shallows.
The boardwalk leads you past a butterfly and native plant garden along the edge of the pond to the edge of the marsh. It continues into the deep shade of an oak hammock, making a loop. Along the route are several benches and a covered observation deck over a pond, perfect for picture-taking when the birds are within range. Look up into the trees and you’ll notice many bromeliads. This is an easy stroll for visitors of all ages and abilities.