Crushed limestone, a few hills, a lot of wildlife
We ride the Kal Haven usually once per season, sometimes we start in South Haven, this time we started in Kalamazoo. We have road bikes and crushed limestone can be a little difficult especially if it's really been dry out, my tires slipped some but not as bad as some trails. After killing a chipmunk earlier this year, I find trails with a lot of small wildlife to be a little stressful, on the trail there was 2 snakes, one frog, one turtle (which we moved to safety) and an abundance of chipmunks and squirrels, the leaves and branches make it hard to see until you are right on them and the chipmunks seem to make a sport of darting out in front of you. I managed to miss hitting all of them but I found myself watching the trail instead of enjoying the scenery. The 1st section from Kalamazoo to Alamo is mostly descending, while it makes for an easy pedal there, it makes for the last 3 miles or so, at the end of the ride, to be a bit of work. We turned around in Bloomingdale, about 35 miles round trip. One really bad connection between the trail and street not too far east of Bloomingdale, wasn't going that fast but I couldn't avoid it without skidding out because of the surface.
I am pretty much a novice bicyclist, probably moving too fast. Decided to get a bike about 5 weeks ago for additional exercise, as I had a heart attack on August 18 of this year. I'd been biking around close to home about 10-15 miles at a time, but not on a trail. Decided I would like to bike someplace a bit farther from home. Went online looking for bike trails and came upon the Kal-Haven. Decided to give it a shot, so I went on Sat. Oct 25th. Went from Kalamazoo to South Haven the same day. Not really ever having done anything like this before, I must admit I was just thrilled at the experience. I do realize that there are a few shortcomings as some others have described, such as benches to rest on are closer to the beginning and end of the trail. Could use more thru-out. Water pumps not working. Erosion on the trail near South Haven. But all in all, this is a great trail. Everyone I passed by, whether running or biking, was as friendly as could be. The atmosphere/weather was great even though most of the leaves were now off the trees. My sister is coming from Virginia in August for our family reunion out in Pinckey MI, and when I told her about my great experience, she was very adamant that we go on the Kal-Haven experience together. I am looking forward to more experiences on this trail
Quaint beginning, grand finish!
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
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.
scenic, essentially flat, and mostly shaded crushed limestone trail
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!
Save our Trail
"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. "