Platte River
★ ★ ★ ★

Platte River II

By on September 26, 2012

Ellenboro to Platte Road
☆ ☆ ☆ ☆

Rife with fun riffles, an intimate river meandering around unglaciated bluffs and beautiful rock formations – not as stunning as the Grant or Kickapoo but quite wonderful in its own right and too often overlooked.

September 22, 2012

Class Difficulty:

Rockville: ht/ft: 3.27 | cfs: n/a

Recommended Levels:
This is the recommended minimum level.

Airport Road Bridge, Ellenboro, Wisconsin
Platte Road Bridge

Time: Put in at 4:00p. Out at 5:30p.
Total Time: 1h 30m
Miles Paddled: 4.25

Wildlife: Bald eagles, blue herons, tons of kingfishers, woodpeckers, a turtle or two and a handful of hawks. Oh yes, and the bulls.
Time worth driving to: 2 hours.

Say you have only a short window of time to play outside and you want to explore something new but don’t have the whole day to do it. Dilemmas… Let’s also say you’re in the mood for fun riffly water, a softly sloping surrounding and a glimpse of fall foliage. Or like me, you had to get the hell out of your girlfriend’s family reunion, obligations bedamned (even or especially if it was held in the rec hall of a Lutheran Church in Platteville). Then let me heartily recommend the Platte River as a necessary tonic to all life’s ails!

What we liked:
Lying in between the Grant and Pecatonica rivers, the Platte offers the best of both: swift, riffly current, undulating bluffs and tall banks occasionally flanking farmland. While not as stunningly picturesque as the Grant, it’s definitely prettier than the Pecatonica (in my opinion). It is, however, more accessible than the Grant (fewer private property landings) and can easily be done in a daytrip from Madison if your time is limited (the Grant, still further west and even more remote, is too pretty and special a place not to spend a weekend at. It has adorable nearby hamlets the likes of Beetown and Potosi, home of the International Beer Museum and is close to spectacular state parks that parallel the mighty Mississip. The Platte has Cuba City and New Diggings, which are cute in name only).

Also, the color of the water is pretty cool. Calling to my mind a lichen-green and clayish gray, Meister Mike Svob alludes to the Ozarks, to which environs I personally cannot attest… yet. Nonetheless, it’s neither crystal clear nor black nor root beer-hued nor muddied, which makes for a pleasant distinction in southern Wisconsin.

What we didn’t like:
Yeah, the barbed wire definitely puts a damper on the trip, especially if you did this in a canoe. Farmers can really do this? (I’m from New Jersey but don’t let the “garden state” moniker fool you; if the state even has farms, they must be clandestine vegetable factories in undisclosed locations operating only and always at midnight under the cover of darkness, for the sole purpose and usufruct of supplying Philadelphians and New Yorkers.) You will be able to lift up the wire, it’s plenty pliable but a) it is barbed and b) the river current is swift, so be careful! It’s certainly doable, just don’t be drunk.

That and the gigantic black bulls. As noted in Platte River I, the bulls are apparently always present. I too happened upon them after a curve, so our meeting was rather spontaneous. Such an encounter is not without precedent in my paddling tenure but any time you find yourself staring at an animal many hundreds of pounds heavier than you, make that, several large animals profoundly bigger than you (for they’re in cahoots, you know) it’s a little alarming and cause for pause. I sat back, snapped a couple pictures and did my best to distance not only myself from the hulking blackness only a few hooves’ saunter away but no less the mental arithmetic that the effluence streaming out of said animal into the river is one and the same with the occasional splash-back that finesses my face.

I had enough time to rationalize that the surrounding bulls, high on the banks but looking down at me, would probably break their legs if they jumped into the river to do whatever a hornless bull would do with a floating trespasser like me (head-butt me? Step on the stern and puncture the rotomolded plastic due to its insane weight?). Eventually the one bull in the river got bored or intimidated, or postured long enough to prove his maleness to the herd (let that be a lesson to you, oh ruminating human!) and clambered up on the banks, away from me. For another fifty yards or so a bevy of bulls would follow me, monitoring my doings (and no doubt delighting in the schadenfreude of when I got stuck in a shallows in the middle of the river. I was mindfully keeping a wide berth of the banks, where there was more water, but also bulls).

But which am I likelier to remember years from now: a placid float-trip with do danger punctuating the experience or the little adrenaline rush of dodging goring barbed wire and the charge of large bulls? Definitely the latter, making me a paddling matador.

If we did this trip again:
I will, absolutely but next time I’ll skip the church shindig with the famn damily and have at the river the whole day!

Related Information:
Platte River Overview: Platte River Paddle Guide
Platte River I: Ellenboro to County Road B
Platte River III: Platte Road to Big Platte Road
Platte River IV: Big Platte Road to Indian Creek Road
Platte River V: County Road A to Platte Road
Miles Paddled Video: Ellenboro to County Road B
Good People: Friends of the Platte River
Guide: Paddling Southern Wisconsin
Overview: Wisconsin Guides
Wikipedia: Platte River


Shuttle Information:

2.8 miles but at least half of that is a very steep climb up a seemingly never-ending hill. The Hwy 81 segment is fun because it’s all downhill but the road is narrow, the shoulder even skinnier and it’s not uncommon for semis to pass you at a fast clip which all but blows you off the road. If all that’s not your cup of tea, you might want to use a car instead.

Miles Paddled Video:

Photo Gallery:



September 25, 2012

October 2, 2012


Miles Paddled documents canoe and kayak trips on rivers and creeks throughout Wisconsin.

Say Hello or Contribute

Ahnapee River

Apple River (IL)

    Apple River
    4.20.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East Canyon Road to South Apple River Road

Ashippun River

    Ashippun River
    9.27.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Ashippun Lake to Ski Slide Road

Badfish Creek

Baraboo River

Bark River

    Bark River III
    4.7.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway 83 to Delafield Road

    Bark River II
    4.15.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Merton to Highway 83

    Bark River I
    7.15.10 | ☆ ☆
    Burnt Village County Park to Fort Atkinson

Beaver Dam River

Big Bureau Creek (IL)

    Big Bureau Creek
    6.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Red Covered Bridge Park to County Road 1150

Big Rib River

    Big Rib River
    5.10.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Goodrich to County Road A

Billings Creek

    Billings Creek
    8.13.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road F to Landing 10

Black Earth Creek

Black River

Black River: East Fork

Bois Brule River

Boundary Waters (MN)

Cannon River (MN)

    Cannon River
    5.31.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Faribault to Dundas

Carroll Creek (IL)

    Carroll Creek II
    6.21.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

    Carroll Creek I
    4.26.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Point Rock Park to Jacobstown Road

Catfish Creek (IA)

    Catfish Creek
    5.7.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mines of Spain to Massey Marina Park

Cedar Creek

    Cedar Creek
    9.28.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road M to Cedarburg

Coon Fork Creek

Covel Creek (IL)

    Covel Creek
    6.18.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    East 18th Road to Highway 71

Crawfish River

Crawfish River: North Branch

Crystal River

Dell Creek

    Dell Creek
    3.15.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    South Avenue to Dellwood

Door Creek

    Door Creek
    4.1.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Femrite Drive to Fish Camp County Park

Duck Creek

    Duck Creek
    3.23.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road G to Duck Creek Road

Eau Claire River

Eau Galle River

Embarrass River

Flambeau River: North Fork

Fox River

    Fox River II
    4.30.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road O to Endeavor

    Fox River I
    5.14.14 | ☆ ☆
    Swan Lake to Portage Canal

Fox River (IL)

Galena/Fever River

Grand River

Grant River

    Grant River IV
    4.24.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River III
    4.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

    Grant River II
    11.21.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road U to Chaffie Hollow Road

    Grant River I
    5.23.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Short Cut Road to County Road U

Halls Creek

    Halls Creek III
    5.6.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

    Halls Creek II
    8.9.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Garage Road to Halls Creek Landing

    Halls Creek I
    6.28.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Trow Lake Dam to Halls Creek Landing

Honey Creek

Jump River

    Jump River
    8.30.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Luke’s Heights Lane to Big Falls County Park

Kickapoo River

Kickapoo River: West Fork

Kinnickinnic River

Kishwaukee River (IL)

Koshkonong Creek

La Crosse River

Lake Columbia

Lake Mendota

Lake Michigan

Lake Superior

Lake Waubesa

Lemonweir River

Little Platte River

Little Wolf River

Maunesha River

Mecan River

Mill Creek

Milwaukee River

Milwaukee River: East Branch

Mink River

Mirror Lake

    Mirror Lake II
    10.17.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

    Mirror Lake I
    5.24.08 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Mirror Lake State Park to Lake Delton

Montello River

    Montello River
    11.8.16-11.10.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Harrisville to 11th Road

Mormon Creek

    Mormon Creek
    8.3.14 | ☆ ☆
    Mormon Coulee Park to Goose Island County Park

Morrison Creek

Mukwonago River

Mullet River

    Mullet River
    10.20.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Plymouth to County Road M

Namekagon River

    Namekagon River
    7.16-7.19.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road K to Riverside

Neenah Creek

Nippersink Creek (IL)

Oconomowoc River

Old Pearl River (LA)

    Old Pearl River
    4.3.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Crawford Landing Road to Indian Village Road

Onion River

    Onion River II
    10.11.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road A to County Road V

    Onion River I
    9.23.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road V to Sheboygan Falls

Pecatonica River

Pecatonica River: East Branch

Peshekee River (MI)

Peshtigo River

    Peshtigo River
    9.2.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Burnt Bridge to Goodman Park

Pigeon River

    Pigeon River
    12.5.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Lake Michigan

Pine River

Piscasaw Creek (IL)

Platte River

Plover River

    Plover River
    5.19.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Jordan Park to Iverson Park

Prairie River

    Prairie River II
    5.27.17 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road C to Stange’s Park

    Prairie River I
    11.17.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Haymeadow Creek to Prairie Road

Puchyan River

    Puchyan River
    04.19.15 | ☆ ☆
    County Road J to Huckleberry Road

Red River

    Red River
    12.9.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Gresham to County Road A

Red Cedar River

Robinson Creek

    Robinson Creek
    7.8.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old County Road I to Kelly Road

Rock Creek

    Rock Creek
    3.26.16 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Lake Mills to Millford

Rock River

Root River

    Root River
    8.2.13 | ☆ ☆
    5 Mile Road to Horlick Dam

Root River: South Branch (MN)

Rubicon River

Seeley Creek

    Seeley Creek
    5.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Seeley Lake to Hatchery Road

Six Mile Creek

    Six Mile Creek
    6.7.14 | ☆
    Waunakee Village Park to South Woodland Drive

Spring Creek

    Spring Creek
    4.20.13 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Fair Street to County Road V

St. Croix River

Starkweather Creek

Sugar Creek

Sugar River

Token Creek

    Token Creek III
    5.22.11 | ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek II
    8.22.09 | ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

    Token Creek I
    5.2.09 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    Token Creek County Park to Cherokee Park

Tomorrow River

    Tomorrow River
    7.4.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Rolling Hills Road to Amherst

Trappe River

    Trappe River
    8.2.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Road WW to Wisconsin River Road

Trempealeau River

Turtle Creek

Upper Iowa River (IA)

    Upper Iowa River
    5.24.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Chimney Rock Road to Bluffton Road

Waupaca River

    Waupaca River V
    10.24.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Amherst to Durrant Road

    Waupaca River IV
    4.12.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River III
    9.22.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway DD to County Highway Q

    Waupaca River II
    7.7.12 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

    Waupaca River I
    7.9.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    County Highway Q to Brainards Bridge Park

Wausau Whitewater Park

Wedges Creek

    Wedges Creek
    9.20.11 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Middle Road to Black River Lodge Resort

White River

Wisconsin River

Wolf River

Yahara River

Yellow Creek (IL)

    Yellow Creek
    4.19.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Bolton Road to Krape Park

Yellow River

Yellow River (IA)

    Yellow River II
    5.6.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Old Sixteen Road to Highway 76

    Yellow River I
    5.5.14 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Highway X16 to Old Sixteen Road

Zumbro River (MN)

    Zumbro River
    6.1.15 | ☆ ☆ ☆ ☆
    Zumbro Falls to Millville
Support the Cause
Timothy's guidebook is out! Order on

Support Miles Paddled and visit our Spreadshirt shop!