This section of Biscayne Bay is mainly covered by shallow grass flats, which host a decent number of trout and barracuda. Larger boats are restricted to the main channel (dashed blue line), so you get most of the rest for canoes and kayaks. The usual route is to paddle around the islands, which have a surprising number of birds on them for an urban area. The current under the bridges is negligible, but stay out of the main channel.
Directions: Take the 79th St east from I-95 or highway 195 East to US-1 (Biscayne Blvd) and follow the map to any of the 3 launch sites (yellow circles). Although there is a guard at the entrance to Morningside, he's only there to discourage criminal activity. You don't have to know a resident to get in. Take US-1 (Biscayne Blvd) to NE 64th St for Legion Park. The Morningside Park neigborhood has 2 entrances; one at NE 58th St and one at 50th Terr. (Bayshore Lutheran Church on east corner) The park itself is on 55th Terr. NEW for 2008: Morningside Park has been developed as a kayak friendly part of the Biscayne Bay Blueway with kayak launching areas. 1 launch is just north of the boat ramp (looks like a small gap in the rocks). They recently added (2012) 3 more kayak launch ramps just north of the pool/rental area.
Put-in/Take-out: All 3 locations have cement boat ramps. There is a $6 parking fee at Pelican Harbor for the boat ramp. On the north side of Pelican Harbor there is a small gravel kayak launch next to the "beach" by the ugly gray building, which is free. Legion Park is free. There is now (as of July 1, 2008) a $6 ramp fee at Morningside Park for the boat ramp, but the kayak launch is free. Pelican Harbor has some security but parking is limited, especially on weekends. Legion Park is the least secure and they sometimes will ticket cars without boat trailers. Morningside Park has kayak rentals on weekends (not reliably open), located next to the pool. Morningside opens at 7:30 AM, so crack-of-dawn fisherman should use Pelican Harbor. The big building on the north side of Pelican Harbor has a big, clean bathroom with showers if you need to clean up before the drive home.
Route: Basically, island hop. Stay out of the main boat channel (dashed blue line), as the larger boats have nowhere else to go to avoid you. Picnic island and the island just north of it have been re-landscaped (2005) with native vegetation and are suitable for picnicking and swimming. The island at the upper edge of the picture north of Pelican Harbor is Pelican Island, and has covered picnic areas and I believe a volleyball court. The other spoil islands are bird sanctuaries. It's about 2 miles from Pelican Harbor to Picnic Island. The bay east of the islands is about 1-3 feet at low tide and covered with seagrass. The areas around the 2 islands south of Bird Key also have some trout habitat. Manatees like Little River during the winter months. There is an artificial reef in the channel just south of Picnic island in about 20 feet of water.
Wildlife: Manatees, dolphin and the usual coastal birds.
Click on map for interactive view. Maps from Mapquest.com
Marker shows the kayak launch spot at Pelican Harbor (free)
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