Trail Introduction | Guide | Facilities | Getting There | Additional Information
Trail Mix Newsletter: Issue II
Welcome to the second issue of Trail Talk. We received a lot of positive feedback from the first issue with the most common inquire being if we’re going to cover trails for mountain biking, cross skiing and other users. Absolutely! We recently added the Lost Lake Pathway to www.MichiganTrailMaps.com, a trail used more by mountain bikers than hikers. This winter we’ll begin adding our first ski trails. Stick with us, we’re getting there. The trail featured in this issue, the Platte River Springs Pathway, was selected because it is a fun family outing and a great one for the upcoming fall colors.
Trail Introduction: Platte River Springs Pathway
Outside of the Porcupine Mountains, there aren’t many places in Michigan where hikers need to ford a stream. But here we were, looking at a beautiful stretch of the Platte River, with no foot bridge in sight. We were on one side and the trail resumed on the other, so the only way to continue was to remove our hiking boots and splash through the cold trout stream.
Located in Benzie County, near Honor, the Platte River Springs Pathway is a short loop packed with adventure, starting with that ford reached minutes from the trailhead. On the south side of the river the trail winds through 35 acres of rugged bluffs, from which a handful of springs emerge to keep the Platte cold and clear. Lining the trail are towering beech and maples, making the pathway an especially delightful hike in the fall.
Although rated easy, the route involves a bit of climbing and path searching. At times the trail is not easy to distinguish, so keep a sharp eye out for blue blazes and occasional trail markers. The hike may be only 1.6 miles but the Platte River Springs Pathway is harder than most trails twice its length. Nor is it conducive to mountain biking or cross-country skiing, even if skiers are willing to endure an icy ford.
The pathway begins in the Platte River State Forest Campground. On fall weekends you can camp on one side of the river and hike on the other. In the spring the pathway is an excellent place to search for morels. After dashing across the Platte during either season, you can warm up the toes with a campfire back at your site.
Click on the map to the right to view a larger version or print.
The pathway is marked on the south side of the campground loop. Within 100 yards of the trailhead, you arrive at the Platte River. There’s a bench to sit on while removing your boots before crossing. The trail is easy to spot on the other side, where post No. 2 and a another bench is located. You can cross in bare feet but there are stones and mud to contend with. Using a pair of sport scandals is better.
Head upstream briefly and then swing sharply south (right) to climb the river bluff along the first of many springs that will be encountered in the area. After topping off, the trail descends the ridge and climbs again along a stretch where it’s easy to wander off course. Follow the blue blazes! Post No. 3 is reached at Mile 0.6, where there is a bench; just beyond is a huge maple that is stunning in October. The post also marks a cutoff spur down the bluff to post No. 4, though it’s hard to distinguish.
The main trail continues to cling to the steep bluff, providing glimpses of the Platte River below between the trees. More giant beech and maples will be passed before the trail descends sharply to post No. 5. Head west (left) to cross a pair of springs and follow the separate loop where post No. 7 is located, reached at Mile 0.9 after another climb up the bluff.
Backtrack to post No. 5 and then follow the trail as its winds through a stand of cedar along the river back to post No. 2, reached at Mile 1.5. The Platte River is so clear that in the summer you can watch trout feeding during a hatch and in the fall coho salmon spawning upstream. One more dash across the river and you’re back at the campground.
Platte River State Forest Campground is a rustic unit with 26 sites that can accommodate tents and small trailers. There are vault toilets and hand pumps for water. The campground borders the Platte River but none of the sites are directly on the water.
From Honor, head east on US-31 and for a mile and then south on Goose Roadfor 1.5 miles to reach Platte River State Forest Campground. The trail is marked along the campground loop.
Contact the Traverse City DNRE Field Office at (231) 922-5280.