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Explore the best rated trails in Kalamazoo, MI. Whether you're looking for an easy walking trail or a bike trail like the Granger Paths and Elkhart River Greenway Trail. With more than 46 trails covering 509 miles you're bound to find a perfect trail for you. Click on any trail below to find trail descriptions, trail maps, photos, and reviews.
Recently rode about 8 miles from South Haven and back on a recumbent trike with wide tires. I'm used to crushed limestone, but some areas were single-track and very rough for anything other than a mountain bike. The upgrades should be great.
By the way, I've ridden deep-woods paved trails in IL, WI, MN, MI, IN, OH, KY, TN, GA and FL, and don't agree that pavement detracts from a natural look. But I understand the greater cost and limited budgets.
Sidewalk to nowhere
I'm the director of the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail and we oversee the Van Buren Trail.
One of the biggest problems people encounter on the VBT is that they're not prepared for riding on what's essentially an undeveloped railroad bed and may believe that since it's a state park it has been developed. It has not. Engineering has been done to that effect and a development project is in the works but still years away.
Still... as you leave the paved section at 16th Avenue south of South Haven and continue down what looks like a powerline ROW, the VBT is rought and rocky, muddy and ditched and yeah, it's a mess. But man, once you get below Covert, the area opens up to thousands of acres of blueberry farms, horse and cattle farms and cranberry bogs.
As the trail crosses the Paw Paw river you're passing through Pokegon Tribal lands and along the way the remnants of Michigan's past peak through the brush and extensive wetlands that make the trail both a challenge and an adventure.
And there's more! But you do need to look.
Future plans call for a complete resurfacing that can handle pedestrians, bicycles, horses and snowmobiles. A Heritage Trail program that is not unlike the award winning project on the Kal-Haven Trail. Benches. Outhouses and more... but, those things are years in the future (unless you've got $15 million laying around you'd like to donate?)
In the meantime, don't let the 'bad' reviews fool you for, as noted, the trail is an undeveloped asset today. But if you've got fat tires or you're on foot or horseback or a sled do not miss a visit to this little-used and under-appreciated wander through the rural Michigan countryside.
Really, don't miss the VBT because of some 'bad' reviews! It's a wonderful excursion on any day if you're prepared for its rough and ready nature.
If you have any questions or concerns about the VBT you can call the State Park office at (269) 637-2788. You can also visit the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter or at our website, kalhaven.org or directly by email to email@example.com and we'll be more than happy to help you out.
PS: Please, don't steal the blueberries ~ as tempting as they are. I know! You're going to pass through hundreds of acres of them! We are working with a local farmer to allow a little more freedom in that but until such a time comes, stealing a man's income does not make for good neighbors and sets bad examples that others will use to stop trail development here, and elsewhere.
PPS: to the guy who had a small dog chase him... I've had a loose cow blocking my way and was attacked by chickens near Hartford! Okay, maybe 'attacked' isn't the right word... maybe 'crowded' by chickens is a better term? But think about it, isn't that part of the fun!? And for the record, the cow was cool. I found the break in the fence she had come through and walked her back through it.
PPPS: To the guy who wrote about the trash... yes, We've had some problems near Covert but ran a cleanup last year and hauled out two trailer-loads of refuse and debris and thanks to Martin Sell at the DNR we'll be back every year to keep the trail looking spiffy. Moreover, a new administration in Covert is trail-friendly so we expect more help from that community keeping things clean.
I'm the Director of the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail
Find us on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, at our website, kalhaven.org or, directly through email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Beginning in early 2023 the State of Michigan will begin a much needed resurfacing of the Kal-Haven Trail from South Haven to Bloomingdale. Three bridges originally built in 1869 will be replaced, new bathrooms are coming to Kalamazoo and new bike pumps to South Haven, among many, many other changes and upgrades. This is the first resurfacing of the trail since it was opened as Michigan's first linear State Park in 1989 so we're a little more than overjoyed! to see this work finally take place.
I've read a lot below from people who want it paved. Um, no. It's a rural trail through backcountry and the trail is perfect for that with its crushed limestone base. The KHT caters to all kinds of users and for the vast majority of them pavement is not desirable and would ruin the look and feel of the trail - as well the feet and ankles of those running and walking on it. Sure, your street bike tires might have a hard time after a rain, but most people who ride the trail do so with wider tires.
I've read complaints about the bathrooms... for those of you from Michigan you'll know how short-staffed the DNR is. In fact, there are 3 people working full time to cover two state parks and two state trails in the off season! But do know that if you came across one that was not clean, that a state park worker would be there within a day or two to fix it - but only if they know to do so! Call them at (269) 637-2788 and explain the problem as you've seen it.
While a full half of the trail will be under reconstruction for most of 2023, the section from Bloomingdale to 10th St. in Oshtemo (Kalamazoo) will be open for your pleasure. And, if you're on the west side closer to South Haven and you're looking for adventure, try the Van Buren Trail south to Hartford, MI for some truly rural experiences. You *will* need fat tires - guaranteed - as the trail has yet to be developed but that's no reason not to give it a go.
If you have any questions or concerns about the KHT the Friends stand ready to help or assist in any way that we can.
Started on the trail at Patterson and rode all the way to D avenue. Colors were glorious. Winding curves were fun. Hills were fun going down challenging going up. Asphalt trail was in good condition.
The Portage Creek trail is the hub to a great system of trails.
We started on the south end of the trails at the Eliason Nature Reserve Pavilion where there's a parking lot with a full service restroom. The trail took us north through the Reserve to connect with the Shaver Road Bikeway. We took this to E Centre Ave where we crossed the street and biked the walking trail around Portage City Hall. This took us to the Veterans Memorial Park and east to the Portage Creek Bicentennial trail. On our return journey we explored the Central Cemetery.
At Celery Flats we stopped to take photos and read up on the historic Feed Mill and other buildings. There are full service bath rooms at Celery Flats. We detoured west from Celery flats to do the Millennium and Northwest Passage trails. Returning to Celery Flats we continued north on the on the Portage Creek trail to Milham Park. Just before the park there's another full service restroom at the Kilgore Trailhead. Milham Park is not really designed for bikes but it was fun to explore anyway.
On our return we took the Shaver Road trail east to Bishop's Bog Preserve. There are trails through the bog that you can walk but not ride. If you do the bog, expect to get wet. The floating pontoon trail is designed to squirt water up your shorts at every step.
We did not do the Romence or Lovers Lane trails as they appeared to just follow the roads. What we did ride was mostly wooded with plenty of shade. We did 24 miles total so i imagine you could squeek out 30 miles if you did all the trails.
All the trails were paved and in good condition (not including Milham Park which isn't really part of the trail). It was really an enjoyable ride and a nice way to spend a half day.
We took the Millennium Trail west from Celery Flats on the Portage Creek Trail to the Northwest Portage trail and then took it all the way to the end. Most of the trail feels quite secluded. There are a couple mildly busy streets to cross but they are quickly forgotten. There's a full service bathroom about halfway on the trail in Haverhill Park. On our return we took the right fork just before Constitution Blvd down to Romence Rd. This section is nice. We took Romence Rd east back to the Millennium Trail. The Northwest Portage trail is paved and in good condition.
This is a nice link between the Northwest Portage Bikeway and the Portage Creek Bicentiennial Trail. The trail gets away from the traffic and meanders through a wooded area with 3 lakes (or ponds). The trail is smooth and paved.
The north end of the trail hooks up with the Portage Creek trail and travels southwest along Shaver road for a bit before heading south and then east to Bishop's Bog. Where it turnes east, you can continue south through the Eliason Nature Reserve on a paved trail all the way to the parking lot and full service restrooms off of Osterhout Ave. This is a nicely wooded area with a winding trail. We actually started our ride from the parking lot heading north to do the Northwest Portage Bikeway and the Portage Creek trails. This gave us a respectable 24 miles of riding.
At the southest end of the Shaver Road trail you can continue into Bishop's Bog. The bog is tranversed by a floating plastic boardwalk peppered with holes. Each step will force water through these holes drenching your socks, underwear, shorts and at times face. A local hiker said it was ok and possible to go on your bike. It wasn't. Completely unridable as the water squirts through the holes in the platform and it's unstable. At the southern end there was a sign forbidding bikes.
We road the trail from Kalamazoo to New Haven. We were riding hybrid bikes with 28x1.75 tires. The crushed limestone is much smoother than most crushed rock trails we've ridden. We don't ride crushed rock because we usually get flats from the splintered rock. But the limestone is much finer and we weren't worried about flats at all. The trail is not as smooth as a paved trail, but nearly. In fact one town paved a section of the trail and it has rivets and bumps actually making it the worst part of the trail.
We really liked that most of the trail is shaded and secluded. So really felt like we were getting away from it. The biggest problem with the trail is that there is only one water faucet (in New Haven). That faucet doesn't spray high enough to fit a water bottle. You need to plan to carry or buy the water you need for the trip. There's also only port-a-let toilets at the trail ends and nothing in-between.
The trail goes north from the pumpkinvine trail just south of middlebury. The trail briefly parallels state road 20 before branching off around a horse field and then into a golf course like park with a picturesque covered bridge. It finishes in the hugely popular Das Dutchman Essenhaus with it's many shops and restaurants. I recommend the cookies in the bakery. The north end of the trail connects with the Wayne Avenue trail which will take you into the center of Middlebury and the pumpkin vine trail.
I only rode about 5 miles of this trail from my hotel to downtown and back. The initial portion was a wonderful forest ride with a canopy of trees overhead, and a covered bridge as bonus. If I'd had another day, I would have ridden the remainder of the trail in the other direction. At the point it left the forest, there was a trailhead with some history of the trail and town posted there. I'm not totally sure if I followed the trail exactly after that, but I got where I wanted to be, which was the Maritime Museum and then the lighthouse. I stopped in at Rock 'n' Road Cycles downtown, just because I like to look at bike stuff. Bought a nice T shirt from them with a logo for the trail on it. Great souvenir of my visit. BTW, they have bike racks that look like small boats all over downtown. I would not have recognized them as such if someone had not told me that is what they were.
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