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The Kal-Haven Trail is a preferred destination for those who enjoy hiking, biking, cross county skiing and snowmobiling. There is an 11 mile parallel section where horses are allowed. The staging area for horses is at 67th street and Baseline.
The 33 mile former railroad bed has a limestone/slag surface. Linking the city of South Haven to the city of Kalamazoo the trail crosses over bridges, passes through small towns and by points of historical interest.
To reach the Kalamazoo trailhead, take US-31 west of Kalamazoo to M-43. Go west on M-43 a quarter mile and drive north on 10th Street two miles. To reach the South Haven trailhead, take I-196 to exit 22 (North Shore Drive) and go west to the Blinking light (Blue Star or A2) go south on Blue Star (A2) for about 1 mile, turn right (west) on Wells Street for a quarter mile, then right (north) on Baily Street to the park entrance.
The Kal-Haven Trail, formally known as the Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park, is a rail trail that originally ran 33.5 miles (55 km) between South Haven, Michigan, to a point just west of the city of Kalamazoo, Michigan, where there is a trailhead. In 2008 the trail was extended east from the trailhead to downtown Kalamazoo as part of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail.
Most of the trail is in Van Buren County and that county operates it between the trailhead and South Haven, including the parts within Kalamazoo County. The Van Buren-controlled portion previously required a trail pass, but as of 2011, the usage fee was dropped.
The Kal-Haven Trail runs along the former route of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad, as does a section of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. It traverses wooded areas, farmland and small towns. It is primarily used by hikers and bicyclists in the summer, and by snowmobilers in the winter. The trail is surfaced, though not blacktopped. Horseback riding is allowed on an 11 mile section adjacent to the trail. The starting point for riding is at 67th street and Baseline road.
There are two primitive campgrounds that can be used at an additional cost. One, near Gobles, has water and a toilet. The other near South Haven has a toilet but no water.
Van Buren County offers a shuttle service through Van Buren Public Transit from South Haven to Kalamazoo and can accommodate up to four bikes and their riders.
Currently the trail passes through the following locations, from east to west:
- Alamo, Michigan
- Mentha, Michigan
- Kendall, Michigan
- Pine Grove Mills, Michigan
- Gobles, Michigan
- Bloomingdale, Michigan
- Berlamont, Michigan
- Grand Junction, Michigan
- Lacota, Michigan
- Kibbe, Michigan
- South Haven, Michigan
The trail is owned by the state of Michigan but, due to state budget cutbacks, in 2004 operation was taken over by Van Buren County, including the portion in Kalamazoo County. A trail pass system was re-instituted to pay for trail maintenance, but was dropped again in 2011.
The Kalamazoo Trail Head to South Haven Trail Head contain major deer fly populations. You pass through small towns, one notably is Gobles, Michigan. Throughout this trail are many cautionary signs, such as Stop Sign and stop ahead.
Several miles south of the western terminus is another trail—the Van Buren Trail State Park. This is also an old railroad bed, ending in Hartford, Michigan. The trail is unimproved and the largest group of users are snowmobilers and horse and buggy riders. This is also operated by Van Buren County. The trail pass is valid for both.
For the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, in November 2004 the State of Michigan completed a tunnel underneath the U.S. Highway 131 freeway, which was the major impediment to extending the trail to downtown Kalamazoo. The city of Kalamazoo approved a $1 million project to extend the trail southeast under U.S. 131 along Ravine Road to Westnedge Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo. Most of the extension was built along the former roadbed of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad.
Waypoints for the Kal-Haven Trail.
↑ in the Distance column points to the other waypoint that the distance is between.
|South Haven, Michigan||Parking|
|Waypoint 2||Drinking Fountain, Parking, Restroom||↑ 3.9 miles (6.3 km)|
|Grand Junction, Michigan||Drinking Fountain, Parking, Restroom||↑ 5.8 miles (9.3 km)|
|Bloomingdale, Michigan||Drinking Fountain, Parking, Restroom||↑ 6.2 miles (10.0 km)|
|Waypoint 5||Restroom||↑ 1.9 miles (3.1 km)|
|Waypoint 6||Drinking Fountain, Restroom||↑ 3.4 miles (5.5 km)|
|Kendall, Michigan||Restroom||↑ 2 miles (3.2 km)|
|Waypoint 8||Drinking Fountain, Restroom||↑ 2.9 miles (4.7 km)|
|Waypoint 9||Drinking Fountain, Restroom||↑ 3.3 miles (5.3 km)|
|Kalamazoo, Michigan||Drinking Fountain, Parking, Restroom||↑ 3.7 miles (6.0 km)|
This site contains thirty-eight miles of abandoned railroad corridor of which 34 miles have been converted to a hiking/biking trail between Kalamazoo and South Haven. The trail traverses forests, agricultural lands, open fields, streams, and 11 towns and cities. It crosses 7 bridges that provide scenic views of rivers, streams, and the surrounding countryside. Due to reduced maintenance practices, restrooms and drinking water facilities are available on a limited scale.
Portions of the trail offer a good chance of seeing squirrels, chipmunks, woodchucks, and rabbits from spring through fall. White-tailed deer and wild turkeys are common and raccoons, opossums, and red foxes are seen occasionally, especially at dawn and dusk. Songbirds such as cardinals and chickadees can be seen year-round, while bluebirds are common in spring and summer. Nearly 80 bluebird nest boxes have been erected and are maintained along the trail in the open field habitat that bluebirds require.
Directions to Kalamazoo terminus: From Kalamazoo, take M-43 west to 10th Street. Turn right onto 10th Street and travel about one mile to the parking area on the left side of the street.
Directions to South Haven terminus: From Van Buren State Park, take the Blue Star Memorial Highway north about 6 miles until you see signs for the trail.
Ownership: Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Administered by Van Buren State Park (269) 637-2788). Additional Funding and maintenance provided by Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail.
Size: 38 linear miles
Closest towns: Kalamazoo and South Haven (trail end points)
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References and More Info