Destinations

Kal-Haven Trail – Michigan Bicycle Trails

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The Kal-Haven Trail is a rail-trail going east-west between the cities of Kalamazoo and South Haven. The trail is 33.5 miles (55 km) long. It is dirt trail sparsely covered with crushed limestone. It is fairly smooth with up and down gradual undulations. The only short steep section is already in the town of South Haven. There are occasional rougher short sections. The middle section of the trail has some two-track stretches. Occasional chipmunk holes in the trail will rattle your bike. There are few sandy local spots.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Two-track section encountered somewhere in the mid-section of the trail.

 

The trail mostly go through the woods.

It has many parking spots along with outhouses, picnic tables and water pumps.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

One of many rest points on the trail.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

At the rest points, there are also picnic table and water pump.

 

The trail is very popular on weekend, but not during the week. You will find most people on the trail close to South Haven.

Trail is well marked, and there are posted maps as well as printed maps available. I checked few boxes and even though it was in the middle of the summer, they were full of maps. So, it means that they are regularly checked and stuffed.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Box with trail brochures.

 

The trail crosses many driveways and roads. The vegetation on both sides comes all the way to the road’s edge blocking the views. So, be really careful when crossing. Most of these roads have high speed limit – 45, 50 or 55 mph. Therefore, the drivers will not be able to react to a cyclist crossing in front of them. Therefore, slow down or stop completely and check that the road is clear of approaching vehicles before you cross.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Trail crosses many driveway sand roads (like this one).

 

Two miles from South Haven the trail goes over a covered bridge. This is what you often see in pictures.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

The covered bridge.

 

In South Haven the trail goes close to Black River, and the section that takes you to downtown follows not far from the river.

 

South Haven, Michigan

South Haven, Michigan

 

It is definitely a great trail to get a nice relaxed ride. I would recommend it, especially if you are in the area.

 

Kalamazoo Trailhead

The Kalamazoo trailhead is located few miles north-west out of town. You can get to it by riding from downtown on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail. The trailhead is easily recognized by the red caboose by the trail. It has a pavilion. The parking lot is pretty big.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Kalamazoo Trailhead parking lot.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Kalamazoo Trailhead.

 

 

South Haven Trailhead

The South Haven trailhead is very similar, but no caboose. The parking lot there is also pretty big.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

South Haven Trailhead parking lot.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

South Haven Trailhead.

 

 

Bloomingdale Mid-Point Station

The trail every few miles passes through many small towns. The one in the middle – Bloomingdale has a what’s called Mid-Point Station, by the Train Depot museum there. There is a dedicated fenced parking lot for trail users, and also a unmarked parking off the road in front of the trail by museum, and also a parking lot in front of the store, that is often used by cyclists arriving there by car.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Mid-Point Station in Bloomingdale.

 

 

Camping Options

There used to be two primitive campgrounds along the trail. One – near Gobles – The Goddess Grove. The other one – near South Haven – The Eagle Point. Since 2017, they are no longer maintained. However, I found out that people still use them, and the image below is the proof.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Primitive campground (that officially no longer exists) next to the trail by Gobles.

 

Fortunately, there are few private campgrounds along or close to the trail that still provide some camping options.  The first one is about 5 mile east of South Haven, right by the trail at 66th St. It is Kal-Haven Outpost.

Next one is South Haven Family Campground south of the trail on 64th St.

Then in Bloomingdale there is the Shady Brook Park campground. The stay there is free.

Then in Kalamazoo area, not by the Kal-Haven Trail, but by the north spur of Kalamazoo River Valley Trail in Parchment, there are Markin Glen Campgrounds. The facility is run by the city.

Those are your options if you are touring, and want to camp.

Additionally, there is Van Buren Trail going from South Haven to Van Buren State Park (only 3.5 miles). The state park has a modern campground. This is another option when camping while touring.

The trail goes further south for a total of 14 miles.

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Sometimes the trail passes by farm lands.

 

 

My Ratings

Scenery (0-boring, 10-breathtaking): 6.0 (about 90% of the time, the trail goes through wooded areas, occasionally, through by some farm land)

Easy-to-Follow (0-no maps, often broken into section without clear directions, 10-well marked with maps showing current location):

10.0 (very well marked, also posted maps in many areas, as well as printed maps in boxes along the trail)

Food Access (0-no food facilities at all, 10-food available every few miles): 4.0 (definitely in South Haven, otherwise, in few small towns along the trail)

Restrooms (0-none, 10-moderen restrooms every few miles): 8.0 (outhouses every few miles along the trail, and at trailheads)

Surface Quality: 7.0 (dirt/limestone surface, sometimes two-track, occasional bump due to chipmunk hole, few localized sandy areas)

Accessibility (0-no trailhead parking lots, no easy access, 10-trailhead parking, and many in-between): 10.0 (big parking lots at trailheads, and mid-point, also many smaller parking lots along)

Usage (0-not used at all, 10-extremely popular): 6.0 (not very popular during a week, fairly popular on weekend)

Hills (0-completely flat, 10-Extremely hilly): 2.0 (hardly noticeable inclines and descends most of the way)

Sun/Shade (0-no shade at all, 10-competely shaded): 9.0 (about 85% shaded, often riding through woods)

 

Michigan Bicycle Trails - Kal-Haven Trail

Most of the time the trail has pretty nice tree cover providing for a fairly shaded ride.

 

 

Resources

Pure Michigan – Kal-Haven Trail State Park

Michigan DNR – Kal-Haven Trail State Park

Wikipedia – Kal-Haven Trail

Michigan Trails – Kal-Haven Trails State Park

Van Buren Trail & Kal-Haven Trail brochure and map (Be careful, the map has some outdated information!!!)

 

 

Wildflowers

Common Daylilies along the trail.

 

 

Rich S. is a lifetime photographer and traveler based in Metro Detroit area. He has been traveling the Great Lakes area for over 30 years. Follow his blog about his trips, interesting activities and destinations in the Great Lakes region.

2 Comments

  1. Jim

    August 4, 2019 at 8:11 PM

    This needs to be updated, no longer any campsites ON the trail, “Van Buren State Park” is only 3.5mi south of South Haven, on a newer paved trail – not 14mi away (?). Coupe other bits of dated material.
    Thx, Jim

    • Rich S.

      August 20, 2019 at 7:00 PM

      Jim, thank you for the correct information. It took a while, but I was finally able to get to it, and update the post. What other materials are dated? I was there in July. While I did not have a chance to ride Van Buren Trail, I rode the entire length of Kal-Haven Trail and some areas around South Haven and Kalamazoo. Therefore, I am curious what you consider “dated”…

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