The Platte Plains/Otter Creek area is a large area that provides birders with the opportunity to explore a wide variety of birding habitats and 14.7 Otter Creek miles of trail. This Site is widely considered to hold the greatest variety of songbirds during migration periods. Birders may want to begin by traveling west on Esch Road from the intersection of Esch Road and M-22 for about 1.3 miles to the parking area at the end of the road (Esch Road is 3.8 miles south on M-22 from the intersection of M22 and M72 in Empire). If birders walk a short distance back up the road, there is a two-track which crosses Otter Creek and a trailhead with Platte Plains Hiking Trail maps. Mixed woodlands, dunes, shoreline, shrub-scrub wetlands and other habitats are found in this area. Walking further up the two-track will provide good views of Otter Creek and other good birding spots. The trail map shows the extensive trail system in this area.
A good deal of time can be spent exploring the many good birding spots in the Platte Plains area. During late May, Otter Creek is the best place in the park to find migrating warblers. This is also a likely place to see bald eagles. In summer look in the woods along the road for scarlet tanagers and Baltimore orioles. Indigo buntings nest near the end of Esch Rd. Sandhill cranes, herons, rails and waterfowl frequent the creek and wetlands.
Another interesting opportunity lies along Aral Hills Rd. and Norconk Rd. which run to the north of Esch Rd. These roads cover 2.5 miles, watch for hawks, kestrels, upland sandpipers and a number of grassland and meadow birds along the way.
Directions: Esch Rd. intersects M-22 approximately 3.9 miles south of Empire, MI. From Empire, turn right on Esch Rd. and proceed 1.3 miles to the parking area at the beach. Trail maps to the above areas are recommended and are generally available at the trailheads. Maps and other information are also available at the Park visitor center in Empire.