Take a trip down one of the most clear, pristine, peaceful, and scenic rivers that northern Lower Michigan has to offer. This river is located in Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore as one of the many unique experiences you can enjoy while you visit this protected area managed by the National Park Service.
Start your journey at the M-22 Bridge, where the National Park Service Platte River Picnic Area is located. This location has multiple features to it, which include a fish cleaning station, picnic pavilion, restrooms, and a railing system, which allows you to pull your kayak/canoe and gear down to the river below. From there you will paddle down an easygoing river with a gentle current that is moderately shallow for about a half-hour before entering Loon Lake. The lake, which is equally clear, scenic, and pristine, offers amazing views, interaction with wildlife, and fishing (license required).
This lake also has a boat launch and allows motorized boats. Traffic is minimal on the lake and usually only related to fishing. A shallow sandbar is about ankle deep where the river first meets the lake. Many people take time to swim and enjoy a drink or grab a snack before heading out to continue their adventure. The river continues out of the western end of the lake and continues with its scenery to the next point on this adventure.
The Lower Platte River Fish Weir is a biology station that is used during the fall salmon run for coho coming out of Lake Michigan to spawn. The Platte River is one of the best coho salmon fisheries in the Great Lakes region and provides excellent salmon fishing in the fall and steelhead trout fishing during the spring spawning run. It is about an hour into your journey and the halfway point. A landing point and restrooms are available here. Landing requires a half-mile portage of gear and watercraft to the road because the access gate is only opened in the fall during the salmon run.
Take a chance to see numerous different fish species, waterfowl, and other species of wildlife that live in and near the river. The journey continues as you make your way to El Dorado and the last landing before reaching Platte Point and the mouth of the river.
After more than an hour of clear, refreshing water and lots of diverse scenery and wildlife, your journey comes close. The scenery diversifies and you start to notice sand dunes with widening horizon lines and more amazing landscapes. The surrounding area has still more surprises to offer, and you are able to see Empire Bluffs as you gaze down the beach. If the lake is clear enough, you can see North and South Manitou Islands on the horizon, which are also part of Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.
Kayak/canoe rentals in the area offer a shuttle to and from landing points. This trip can also be done with a two-person team with their own watercraft and vehicles. It is a 5-mile paddle via kayak/canoe, but from the M-22 Bridge to Platte River Point, (the river mouth) it is only 2.5 miles. Alternatively, bring a bicycle instead of a car to connect the put-in and take-out sites. This would eliminate the need for multiple vehicles for shuttling. Shuttles from the rental companies operating in the area are available for a small fee.