Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park Reviews    

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By nshutt2000 in December, 2013

Is the trail surface good enough for road bike tires? Or, will it result in punctures?
thanks.

Quaint beginning, grand finish!

By cindy elia in December, 2013

I absolutely loved the entire trail, end to end. I rode the trail in its entirety twice in a row, I enjoyed it so much(over 4 days) The scenery is very green with abundant wildlife and wildflowers, butterflies, and birds. It was very smooth and easy, with a mild grade. Beginning in Kal and ending up at South Haven was a Grand, exciting finish. What better way than to pull your bike right up to Lake Michigan, after a hot, dusty day and feel the cool wind in your face and hear the crashing waves. I chained my bike to the deck rail and took a walk in the sand in my bare feet. It was awesome!
Unfortunately, I had to delete one star for the miserable factory beef farm along the trail. This filthy, foul smelling, cruel entity was an eyesore and shameful example of how not to "farm" (and I use the term loosely) having been a farmer myself. There were several small homes near there, with individuals who had to see and smell that everyday, and I am sure it brought down their property values, as well as destroyed the section of the trail. The owners even had the gall to put up a sign boasting their NATURAL raised beef! Disgusting!
Aside from this small section, the Kalhaven is a beautiful ride and worth the small user fee. I am a woman riding alone, and I never encountered anyone but a few friendly people and no problems with car break ins or any scary areas.

One of my favorites

By tbox9 in September, 2013

Hello. My name is TBox and I am a Rails-to-trails-aholic. So is my wife. It's awesome. Back in the day, we were avid road riders until we got tired of outrunning angry dogs and drivers paying more attention to what is on their phones than what is in front of their car. Discovering rails to trails rides has literally given us a new lease on our bike riding lives. We now take long weekends (or more, if possible) and seek out new rails to trials rides. The KalHaven Trail is less than 2 hours from our house and is worth every second spent driving to the trial head. This was our second ride on what I'm sure will be many trips on the KalHaven Trail.

We started in South Haven and rode to Kendall (about 25 miles from South Haven), where we refueled and turned around and headed back to South Haven. Of all the trials we ride, this one is one of the most easy-going rides. Being crushed stone, you don't see many of the "Tour De France (North America Branch)" riders trying to set new land speed records while dodging children and the elderly on the trail. Don't let the crushed stone scare you away, if you have never tried this trail. It is super smooth and easy riding for whatever you ride, even skinny tire road bikes would be okay on this trail, although it's perfect for mountain, hybrid, or cyclocross bikes. Just be prepared to give your two wheeled baby a bath after the ride. They do get a little dusty after a ride on the KalHaven. Also a great trail to ride on hot, summer days. Lots of shade throughout the trail.

After the ride, plenty of great places in South Haven to grab a beer and some grub. The perch tacos at the Black River Tavern were awesome.

Give this trail a try. You'll love it.

Happy riding!

Very scenic, nice ride, but watch the highway curve!

By aybikes2 in July, 2013

My wife and I rode this trail with some friends. We left South Haven and rode to out 15 miles to Grand Junction and then back to South Haven.

Our friends like to ride but had not been on their bikes in a while and we had gone fifteen miles before we knew it. It is a rails to trails so it has gradual but sometimes long grades, nothing bad.

The path is in very good condition; however, I gave it four stars because there is one part of the path where you must cross a busy road on a blind curve. When you are biking west toward South Haven you cannot see on coming cars around the corner and they are flying through there, right up on the bike crossing - it is REALLY dangerous. The highway department or Natural Resources Department needs to do something to avoid that intersection (bike bridge, large flashing light activated by bike riders, something). If you are riding with your kids BE VERY CAREFUL.

The path is very scenic. About five miles or so to the east of South Haven there is an old fashion well pump rest stop on the trail where you can refill your water bottle with fresh water, possibly spring water. Have fun!

scenic, essentially flat, and mostly shaded crushed limestone trail

By martinf in July, 2012

I've been riding this trail for well over 10 years and haven't gotten tired of it yet, even though most of it is fairly straight. As it is not paved I suggest a touring or mountain bike (or hybrid). The trail is very scenic, especially in autumn (colors) and in spring on the eastern end millions of Trilliums--pun intended--and other wild flowers. This is also the greatest incline up to the trail head on 10th St. north of M43, where it runs without any interruption into the Kalamzoo River Trail. There are 2 primitive camp grounds on the trail in Kendall, about Mile 24, and near South Haven at Mile 1. My favorite, wooded, peaceful section runs from Bloomingdale to Grand Junction. There are several hand operated water pumps and picnic tables on the trail and a nice gazebo at Mile 4, put up by the Kibbie Reformed Church. The western end is also beautiful with a covered bridge and two picnic spots on the Black River, one shelter just west of the covered bridge and one on the brand new (paved!!) section continuing past the trailhead into downtown South Haven near the municipal boat ramp on Wells St. From the boat ramp you have to ride on the streets following the river to the draw bridge then left and immediately right up Williams St. along the marina to Lake Michigan. To my delight, most of these streets have just been repaved with added bicycle lanes! For a lunch break, stop at one of the places in Gobles, Mancino's Pizza just south of the trail and north on M40 my own personal favorite: Jan's Trailside Cafe, a hole in the wall with great food, incl. authentic pasties for those from the upper peninsula of Michigan. See you soon on my favorite bike trail!

South Haven end of the Kal-Haven Trail

By lens in July, 2012

Please see attached Youtube slide show. We really liked the trail and the town of South Haven at the trails western end. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_-BQxPD3BVM

Nice trail, but beware as it is NOT paved

By jkolle in June, 2011

The grades are gentle, the scenery was nice, but we were not prepared to ride on a non-paved trail, basically a dirt trail. We pulled a Burley and it is less than ideal. We rode from Grand Junction to South Haven and back, which is 10 miles on the trail. We wouldn't do anymore pulling something.

Great Family Ride!

By michael mcdermott in July, 2010

We just got my 5 and 7 year old off of training wheels and decided to give a light ride a go on the Kal-Haven Trail. It was a huge success! It's a fairly easy ride with a very forgiving surface. We live near the K-Zoo trial head and hopped on, went 2.5 miles in, had lunch, turned around and road back to the trail head. It's mostly downhill heading west into the trail which made the ride back a bit slower but the grade was light and was easily manageable by my 5 year old (with dad giving him pushes every now and then). Love the trail and the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is nice too for the little ones, it's paved! Get out and ride!

K is mistaken on the scenery

By Pride21 in July, 2010

Riding this trail is the highlight of my year. I have ridden the Kal-haven trail three times and walk it frequently. In the early spring there are fields of wild flowers and Trillium. In the fall the leaves are amazing. If you pay attention there is all kinds of wildlife. I frequently see deer, turkey racoons and have seen several red tail hawk. All kinds of birds everywhere. You are riding through woods and small towns. There is also a town that closed many years ago. This trail is beautiful, if you don't see any scenery you might consider slowing down and experiencing what the trail has to offer. The trail ends in beautiful South Haven Michigan where you can go to the peer and embrace a beautiful sunset. South Haven has nice people, great shops and lodging. This trail ride in my opinion is a must experience. Have a great ride.

June 24th 2010 FUN RIDE!!!

By sweetcat in June, 2010

We stayed in South Haven and booked a bike shuttle that dropped us off at the trail head on 10th street in Kalamazoo. The shuttle service has a limited space and books quickly but was a very good deal at $6.00 per adult including the bike. They picked us up at our B and B. The number is 269-427-7921. We biked the entire trail from 10th Street, Kalamazoo to South Haven.There had been a lot of rain immediately prior to our arrival. The trail was still in really good shape. There are some washouts and slippery spots but they were not unpassable or dangerous. We had mountain bikes. You need to purchase a pass to use the trail. There were staff at each trail head selling the passes and a few t-shirts and drinks. There are primative toilets all along the trail. On June 24th 2010 there was a trail closing on the trail near 36th street. Make sure to ask for specific directions around it. We had some and with some common sense we found our way back to the trail. It requires you to ride on the road for a couple of miles. It actually is a pleasant ride. The ride starts downhill for quite awhile from the 10th street trail head. It is gravelly and dirt. It is firmly packed in most spots with some sand piles. It is goes through a lot of wooded areas and has a lot of shade. Most places are wind sheltered although you do come out in a few open areas. There are three small humped bridges and you cross a few streams and a small covered bridge near the South Haven end of the trail. It seems mostly down hill from 10th street. There is a small hill as you begin to approach South Haven. If you want to fly you could really rock this trail - if you don't mind some dirt and gravel and sand. There are a lot of stop signs to cross roads some are paved some are sand. You need to watch for these if you are racing down the hills. You will go through a few small towns but we didn't stop in any of them. It appears that the trail is well maintained and I wouldn't be surprised if they are replacing the gravel after all the rain. Even though we went from one end to the other and it was a lovely day we saw very few people on the trail. We plan on riding this trail again.

Kal-Haven ride

By millie2455 in June, 2009

We have spent many a cold day on the trail in the winter but have recently taken our bicycles to test the trail. It was great. We decided to make it an event rather than just another bike ride. We choose to spend the night and bike back on day 2. The greatest scenery is as you near South Haven and ride parallel with the river. You also will cross the covered bridge and as you are almost into town there is an amazing new boardwalk and pavillion that reaches out into the river. I am guessing it is for public use but it appears so new that not much signage . Once in town we found this charming Inn close to the trail and were able to secure our bikes in the shed. We were at Inn at the Park B&B and when we arrived, they served us a glass of wine and some appetizers and fed us a great breakfast before we headed back home via the trail. We hope to get some freinds to do this 2 day trip and revisit the Inn sometime soon.

Uneventful

By K in October, 2007

"There isn't much for scenery on this trail except in the Kalamazoo and South Haven first few miles. In between, it gets really boring and when you near South Haven, coming from Kalamazoo, it's a real drag seeing all the graffiti on signs. If you want the exercise, it's a nice ride and very flat. If you want scenery, good luck."

One of the better ones:

By Gib in October, 2007

"The KalHaven trail is one the nicest and more scenic unpaved trails in Michigan. The canopy of trees go on for miles and miles. It makes a huge difference in temperature on a day like yesterday when it was eightfive degrees. It was still a very comfortable ride. For good eats, Jans Trailside in Gobels has great food and prices. I usually park in Gobles and ride to either Kalamazoo or South Haven. In a ealier post the person mentioned the problem with cars getting broken into; however, that was an isolated incident. Both trailheads now have attendents and cameras so hopefully the problem is a thing of the past. I only wish the trail was closer to Grand Rapids. Enjoy (:"

Good Riding

By Kara in August, 2006

We rode the first 10 miles from South Haven to Grand Junction. The trail is nice and shady. Water along the way is nice. Stopped at a blueberry farm to pick blueberries which was fun. Not much in the little towns as one of the websites for this trail described. Overall a nice ride.

Nice Trail

By in May, 2006

"Rode the eastern section from Kal. Nice railroad grade, hard base with fine crushed stone. No sign of horses, only a few lone ground hog holes. Plenty of rest stops if you need. No railroad bridges on this eastern end (18 miles). Plenty of shade with canopied trees."

Kal-Haven Trail

By Dan in October, 2005

"Rode the trail 10/21/05. Trail in great condition. Started at Kalamazoo. Fun ride, not very many hills, great view of Fall colors and countryside. Trail Ranger was very friendly and informative. What a great way to spend the day!"

"Improved, but ...."

By Bentrider-Mi in June, 2005

"We have ridden sections of this trail this spring and summer. Since the fee system was re-established to provide funds to VanBuren County to maintain the trail it has improved. However if you ride from the Kalamazoo end toward Bloomingdale watch out for the section at Mentha (where the path tranverses the old mint farms' muck fields (before you reach Kendal) as it is very soft and it is easy to catch a wheel and lose control. I wish the county would simply spread a little calcium cloride on the trail here to absorb moisture from the air and stabilize the trail. What is really strange is that after you have passed this section and have traveled about a mile there is a section that has caution signs warning of loose surface on the trail, but we have never found any loose surface here, but in Mentha, where there is a loose surface, there are no signs warning of the potential danger. Hope someone from VanBurnen County reads this and does something about this problem on an otherwise excellent ride. If we didn't live so far away, 30+ miles, we would buy some calcium cloride and a lawn spreader to spread on the trail. However since we only ride the trail about once or twice a month and I would have to buy both the spreader and the cc, I probably will not get it done."

"Good trail, bad parking situation"

By richard jordan in October, 2004

"Every day, sometimes five times a day, cars are broken into at each end of the trail parking lots. The place has no security and you will be a risk for terrible things to happen of you park there.

It is too bad because the trail is outstanding. Good luck and beware. Call the local police department and see how many smash and grabs there were today."

Nice lunch stop along trail

By in August, 2004

"This trail, which has apparently had its ups and downs in maintenance, has now been taken over by the county. A $3 user fee is strictly enforced, and that seems to be doing the trick, for it was in good shape, and shaded and peaceful too.

We rode only from South Haven to Grand Junction (10 miles). At Grand Junction there is a nice Mexican fast-food/ice cream restaurant with picnic tables outside right along the trail. This is a great stop for a trail with few amenities."

Delightful Experience

By in July, 2004

Try this trail for the scenery and good riding conditions (hardpack). There are quite a few streets and roads to cross but there isn't too much traffic. The traffic on the trail has always been thin when I have been on it (10-15 times).

Nice Ride

By mike5 in July, 2004

"I have ridden the Kal-Haven several times over the past few years. It had recently deteriorated from lack of care. I was happy to notice that is was much improved this trip. There is a fee once again, but it's worth it if if translates to better upkeep."

Fantastic Trail

By in October, 2003

My wife and I biked this trail in October 2003. It was terrific! We thoroughly enjoyed each of the 66 miles of the trail (that's round-trip mileage).

Save our Trail

By michel1 in July, 2003

"I've been riding this trail since before there was an official trailhead established just off H Avenue on the east, or Kalamazoo, side. I have seen the trail go from a not-yet-completed facility to having outhouses and pumps with picnic benches every five miles or so.

It is such a GREAT ride. I usually start out from my home in downtown Kalamazoo and take the back roads to the trailhead. We then head west, stopping for ice cream at Kendell, Bloomingdale and Grand Junction. We end up in South Haven with less than a mile ride to the Bed & Breakfast. Then we wash up, hit the beach till the sun goes down and then head out to dinner. The next morning we hit the trail back to Kalamazoo and voila, a cheap, exciting, wonderful weekend vacation.

The ride is beautiful. There are some open fields and sun. You pass through the Todd Mint farm area (the third largest mint producer in the world). Parts of the trail are raised waaaaaay up, some are low, cross streams, through dense wooded area; it's just a wonderful ride.

It is, however, in need of attention. You can ride the entire trail, as I do every month or so, but deterioration is clearly evident. Some punks even burned down an outhouse. I plan to take either a golf cart or a motor cycle loaded with a chain saw, shovels, etc., down the entire trail just to help clean it up a bit.

If everyone who uses it does one or two things each time they ride by it will help. I've seen some local folks who live along the trail out mowing on either side. I stopped and thanked them. I didn't mind paying the trail use fee when there was a permit required for a few years. Heck, I still have the passes. If that's what it takes, let's reinstate the fees. But let's not lose this trail.

The city of Kalamazoo is working diligently on extending the trail to the downtown area. Then they plan to run it along the Kalamazoo River and connect it with the Portage Creek Trail and Battle Creek Linear Park trail. "

Kal-Haven Trail in 03

By in July, 2003

"I have gone both ways on the entire 54 kilometre length of the trail in May and in July. In July it was superb. In July there were notices posted to the effect that ""Budget Problems"" in MI had made it necessary to (A) transfer the Park Ranger to another park, (B) remove the trash cans, (C) close down many of the restrooms, (D) render inoperative much of the water supply at the rest stops, (E) that trail maintenance would be discontinued, and (F) that DAMAGE and VANDALISM would NOT be fixed.

It did not take long to tell a HUGE difference between May and JULY. In May the trail was definitely a ""5"" whereas 2 months later it is already down to ""2"". Twigs are all over the path. They become lodged in the spokes. Tree branches are everywhere making it necessary to execute evasion maneuvres. Tree limb partly block block the path in at least 5 places.

Near South Haven an entire tree has fallen that completely blocks the path. Many of the bathrooms are closed. More often than not, the water pumps at the rest areas are inoperative. Wash-outs and erosions are beginning to appear. Neglecting this beautiful trail is NOT going to save money. It is going to cost money. IT is going much more expensive to refurbish the trail after this kind of neglect than it would b to maintain it properly. I do not know who is responsible for the abandonment of this beautiful trail by the state DNR. But it is a crime to allow a trail of this quality to be so severely neglected. It is truly shocking to see a beautiful trail of this quality deteriorate in such a short time. Something needs to be done about this trail. Fast. "

Loved the trail

By jim2 in May, 2003

I thought the trail was well maintained and was amongst some pretty wild flowers and birds. I especially liked stopping in Gobles for lunch and the covered brdige was very nice.

Great trail

By sallyjean in March, 2003

This is a great trail. If you start in South Haven and ride to Kalamazoo you can get picked up at the end of the trail by the Holiday Inn if you want to spend the night. They will take you back to the trail in the morning for your ride back.

Great Escape From Reality!

By in September, 2002

My wife Mary and I just rode a portion of the Kal-Haven Trail this past Labor Day weekend and what a great experience! Well maintained - great scenery - cornfields - meadows - farms - the solitude of forests - friendly passerbys - you couldn't ask for a better experience!

Beautiful Canopied Ride

By in August, 2002

The trail is canopied by trees most of the ride. Restrooms and water are frequent. Beautiful scenery. Well kept trail. Butterflies and small wildlife are abundant. Great!

delightful experience

By dschlanser in August, 2001

"We enjoyed a delightful mini-3 day vacation by biking from the Kalmazoo trail head to South Haven, staying in a B&B on the beach and biking back to our car. I positively identified 26 types of wildflowers in mid-July and I sure did not know all of them. With a 42 year span between us, my niece and I had a wonderful time. She suggested we make it an annual trip! Good food is available in Grand Junction and Gobles not to mention South Haven which is a town made for walking and bikes. Total 3-day milage=86. (inclusive)"

Make the Kal-Haven a mini-vacation

By dschlanser in July, 2001

"My niece (12) and I took a 3 day weekend and biked the Kal-Haven trail both ways. We left Friday a.m., spent 2 nights in South Haven and returned Sunday a.m. The trail is beautiful with lots of birds, wild flowers and a variety of terrain. South Haven is made for bikers with everything accessable from beautiful white sandy beaches, a drawbridge and great food. They say the trail is uphill all the way back from South Haven to Kalamazoo but frankly they can't fool me. I know it is up hill both ways! Total millage: 83 miles "