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Sunday, April 12, 2015

Canoeing the Duck Head on the Platte River

Ever since we picked up our canoe at Christmas time I've been looking for new places go to for a float.  I like flat water canoe floats, but moving water is always a little more fun then paddling on a pond or lake.  One of the places I immediately gravitated to was the Platte River. There are actually two Platte Rivers.  The one that goes through Nebraska is bigger and certainly better known.  The Platte River in Missouri is smaller, closer to home, and the one I had in mind.  What I found certainly exceeded my expectations.
There are boat ramps located all along the Platte River, but near Platte City, there's a place in Platte Falls Conservation Area where the river twists and turns back on itself, creating a spot where two boat ramps are separated by 2 1/2 miles of water, but only 100 yards or so on land.   This spot has been dubbed "The Duckhead" by others, because as you look at an aerial view of it, it loosely looks like the distorted head of a duck.  One of the basic challenges of doing a river float is the logistical challenge of setting up a shuttle.  The challenge of finding shuttle vehicles and other drivers who are available to stage a vehicle at the launch or takeout has killed more anticipated float trips than nearly any other reason.  The Duckhead, much like the famous Horseshoe Bend on the Guadalupe River in Texas, overcomes this obstacle by the fortunate placement of river geography.  I felt the need to go and float the Duckhead and learn of the marvelous boat ramps for myself, so one warm Saturday afternoon in March we packed up and drove out to paddle it. 
We had a great float!  The 2 1/2 mile float took just over an hour to make the float.  We weren't in any hurry- since I was the only paddler with a boat full of rowdies.  If you're a solo paddler or paddling with others you can make the trip much faster if you want to.  Other options include paddling upstream from one boat ramp or downstream from another if you want to make the paddle longer.  We saw a man and his son out for a float as the only other paddlers.  The river has cut down through the sediments, so the river has steep banks all along the float.  The Platte River flows slowly, and while there are some logs and strainers in the water, the only danger they present is to careless paddlers who are not paying attention.  Even beginner paddlers can enjoy this float.  We had a great time and look forward to getting back and seeing how the scenery changes over the course of the year.

Nearest City: Platte City, MO
Location: Platte Falls Conservation Area, MO
Time Needed: 90 minutes
Difficulty: Easy
Kid Friendly: yes
Additional Info: Platte Falls Conservation Area Website

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