Head for Van Buren Trail State Park and take a walk (or ride) on the wild side. Wildlife abounds on this rural 14 miles between Hartford and South Haven. While you might see deer, rabbit, fox and eagles, this is an undeveloped trail that has rough ballast stones, long sections of sand and grassy two-track. The combined result is a trail suited to hearty mountain bikers, birders and naturalists.
Heading north from the grass-covered parking lot in Hartford, which has portable toilets, you glide quietly over bridge spanning the Paw Paw River. Cruising northwest to South Haven you pass beneath tall pines, maples and various hardwood trees. The scent of pine lingers as you emerge from the woodlands and enter fields of blueberry bushes and vineyards.
At mile 8 the small town of Covert is located one block south of the trail. A convenience store in town has the only refreshments and restroom facilities on this rural trail. You have to navigate rural State Route M-140 at this point, with no real busy traffic.
The last 8 miles from Covert the trail passes through woods, open fields and commercial fields of blueberries (growing on treelike bushes) and grapes. This part of Michigan is noted for its wine and fruit.
Future plans call for a trailhead at the South Haven end of the trail and for a connection to the Kal-Haven Trail
To start in Hartford, from Interstate 94, take the Hartford Exit. Head north 2 blocks past the first stoplight. Take a left onto Prospect Street and proceed for 2 blocks. The trailhead has a grass-covered parking lot with portable toilets.
To start in South Haven, take Lagrange Street to Aylworth Avenue (next to South Haven High School, across from McDonald's). Go west on Aylworth Avenue to Kalamazoo Street and then south on Kalamazoo to Lovejoy Avenue. The trail is 0.1 mile to the west on Lovejoy Avenue on the south side of the street.
My wife and I rode this trail in late September 2012. It was clear. It is not paved so don't expect it to be like a sidewalk. It is great if you wish to have a workout. We loved the quietness and the beauty. It was great to get away from civilization. ...
I road about half of this trail today from the Hartford end. It would have been much easier with standard mountain bike tires rather than road tires, but all-in-all a pleasant ride. I wouldn't try to ride this after a heavy rain, some parts are marshy, ...
On the morning of July, 20, 2011, my wife and I attempted to ride this trail starting at the Hartford end. We consider ourselves average, casual cyclist. We both have mountain bikes. We were only able to go a little over two miles, before we had to turn ...