Kalamazoo River Valley Trail

Michigan

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail Facts

States: Michigan
Counties: Kalamazoo
Length: 20.9 miles
Trail end points: Kal-Haven Trail; E. D Ave. just east of the Kalamazoo River (Kalamazoo) and Galesburg-Augusta Primary School at S. 35th St. and W. Battle Creek St. (Galesburg)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6129808
Trail activites: Bike, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking

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Kalamazoo River Valley Trail Description

hen complete, the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail will run for 35 miles throughout Kalamazoo County. Currently, the trail consists of two continuous segments connected by bike lanes: one segment extends from 10th Street and the Kal-Haven Trail to North Westnedge Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo, and another extends from East D Avenue in Kalamazoo (near the Kala-mazoo River) south through downtown and then east to the town of Galesburg.

10th Street to North Westnedge Avenue (Kalamazoo): 4.8 miles

The 4.8-mile western segment of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail begins at the eastern terminus of the Kal-Haven Trail, which runs 34.5 miles west to South Haven near the shores of Lake Michigan. Heading east on the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, you’ll pass through scenic wooded areas and gently rolling hills, and then through a tunnel underneath US 131 and into the western suburbs of Kalamazoo. You’ll find a lot of shade in this portion of the trail.

The route parallels but is separated from Ravine Road for 3 miles, after which it runs as a bike lane along the road for a half-mile stretch through a residential area. The trail then returns off road and heads into downtown Kalamazoo, where the buildings and the trail itself are a bit more rundown, and ends at Westnedge Avenue and Kalamazoo Road.

Here, you can continue along a designated bike lane route through downtown to the northeast segment of the trail, or you can stop in Kalamazoo and enjoy some of its many great eateries and microbreweries.

East D Avenue (Kalamazoo) to West Battle Creek Street (Galesburg): 16 miles

The 16-mile northern segment of the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail follows the Kalamazoo River for a large portion of its length and provides many scenic views of the river itself. A good starting point is at the Cooper Township trailhead in northern Kalamazoo near the East D Avenue Bridge (which runs across the Kalamazoo River). The trail’s endpoint is on the east side of the bridge, while the official trailhead and parking are just west of the bridge.

Heading south from East D Avenue, the first mile of the trail is hilly and winding as it leads toward Westnedge Avenue and then connects with the Kalamazoo Nature Center, which offers outdoor environmental education and exhibits for children and adults, as well as more than 14 miles of hiking trails.

The Kalamazoo River Valley Trail follows Westnedge Avenue for about 1.5 miles and then heads back toward the river and goes through Markin Glen County Park, a 160-acre space with campsites, fishing and swimming areas, trails, picnic shelters, and sports fields. You’ll continue along the river for a scenic, 3-mile stretch before reaching downtown Kalamazoo; in the eastern downtown area, the trail passes by several points of historical interest, including a former railroad depot for the Grand Rapids and Indiana Railroad and the Haymarket Historic District. There are many places to stop for lunch or a snack along this segment, including picnic areas and downtown businesses, and several parks provide restroom and water facilities.

Once the trail leaves downtown Kalamazoo, it continues along King Highway to the east toward Comstock. In this area, the trail alternates between suburban neighborhoods and more industrial areas. The route here is nicely graded and enjoyably curvy, and it has several small boardwalk bridges from which trail users can enjoy scenic views of the river.

The trail leads into the suburbs, where you’ll wind through a meadow and wooded park with a good view of the Kalamazoo River, before reaching the eastern terminus at Galesburg-Augusta Primary School.

 

Parking and Trail Access

10th Street to North Westnedge Avenue (Kalamazoo): 4.8 miles

The western trailhead for the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail is shared by the eastern trailhead of the Kal-Haven Trail, which is profiled starting on page 43. To reach the western trailhead in Kalamazoo from I-94 in Portage, take Exit 74B for US 131 N./Bus. Loop I-94 toward Kalamazoo and Grand Rapids. Merge onto US 131 N./Bus. Loop I-94 E., and continue for 2 miles. Continue on US 131 N. for another 2.4 miles, and then take Exit 38B for MI 43 W. toward South Haven. Merge onto MI 43. Turn right onto 10th St. N., and then drive another 2.1 miles. Turn left into the trailhead and parking area.

 

East D Avenue (Kalamazoo) to West Battle Creek Street (Galesburg)

To reach the northern trailhead in Kalamazoo from US 131, take Exit 44 for D Ave. and head east for 4 miles. Turn right into the small trailhead parking lot, just after the railroad tracks and before the bridge over the Kalamazoo River.

To reach parking near the eastern endpoint from the intersection of US 131/I-94BL and I-94, take Exit 34 for I-94 W. Keep left at the fork, follow signs for I-94 E./Detroit, and merge onto I-94 E. Go 11.6 miles, and take Exit 85 toward Galesburg/Augusta. Turn left onto S. 35th St., go 1.1 miles, and turn left onto E. Michigan Ave. After 0.8 mile, turn left into River Oaks County Park. Go 0.5 mile, and bear right at the V (you’ll cross over the trail); look for parking spaces immediately to your right. Head back out a few hundred feet to where the trail crosses over the park access road. Head left on the trail to go toward Kalamazoo, or head right on the trail for approximately 1.25 miles to reach the southeastern endpoint, at the corner of S. 35th St. and W. Battle Creek St.

Kalamazoo River Valley Trail Reviews

This is a beautiful trail!! I have lived in Kalamazoo for 5 years and did not even know about it until I bought my first road bike and started to look up trails!! And I'm glad I did! Pretty straight for the most part however there is a hill section that's pretty fast depending on the direction!

Pros: Loved the wooded areas. Beautifully maintained. Nature, flowers, birds, gorgeous. Cons: The many crosswalks are located close to, but not at, the intersections where cars are turning right, heading into you. The distance is just beyond their sight line, so you have to be quite careful not to be hit. A family of three was riding behind me, they decided to blow through the crosswalk just as a car was turning and were nearly hit, including their toddler. The family was at fault as much as the hurried driver. Many areas have heavy traffic, people are in a hurry, and you have to be quite cautious. I rode from the Kalhaven trail head to downtown Kalamazoo.

Loved this trail! We parked on D Ave, north end of the trail (just south of mile marker 13). Rode into downtown Kalamazoo (marker ~5.5) and went to Arcadia Ales & Bell's Brewery, then rode back up to our car.

Lots of hills for the first two miles of the trip, seemed mostly downhill and we were nervous what the trip back would be like but there was enough rolling hills in both directions that neither were too hard. Maybe 2 of the hills were a bit a struggle (we are mid-level bikers). Scenery is BEAUTIFUL near the north-end; forest/woods, and trail is VERY WELL maintained.

Perfect location for a bike and brew afternoon!

Accordion

We went from downtown Kalamazoo to the Kalhaven Trail head on 10th St. Most of it is an independent path, however, there is a good stretch on Ravine Rd that is a narrow bike lane. I do not advise taking children on this section of the trail since there are some spots where untrimmed foliage makes the lane even more narrow and the road is fairly busy.

It's a gradual uphill going west and then an easy downhill going back. As another mentioned, early in the year there was a short span with some broken glass, but now that its summer, I didn't see any.

Downtown Kalamazoo has a lot to offer with restaurants, breweries, and little shops. Plenty of bike racks.

I regularly ride the trail from Comstock park out to "D" Ave. Starts out flat along M96 from Comstock to Mayors Riverfront Park. Cuts through Kalamazoo across area parks and then along Riverview Drive. Eventually you enter a secluded pathway to the Kalamazoo Valley Nature Center. Along this pathway are wooded areas, river views, with some easy to harder climbs to the highest point in Kalamazoo County. Once into the Nature Center prepare for a wooded roller coaster of a ride down to "D" Ave bridge. Parking is at "D" Ave and the Comstock community park. Restroom at the Comstock park, Kalamazoo Nature Center or River Oaks Park. You can stop at several of Kalamazoo's local micro breweries that are close to the trail. Now the trail has been expanded to Galesburg, Michigan adding another 5 miles one way. Total is about 15 miles from Galesburg to "D" Ave. No road sharing, few pedestrians with dogs, and fellow riders. Nice paved path all the way. Path needs some repairs at the golf course but adds to the fun.

Broken glass near Westnedge! We saw more experienced riders ditch the trail early a few blocks from where the trail ends downtown. We used the trail to visit breweries. The biking lets us burn off the calories and effects of drinking. We took a ride, for this purpose, to the eastern end at Galesburg and back. The trail was in perfect, paved condition with nice views of the river. Comstock was nice, but there is nothing of note at the trail's end in Galesburg. This route is flat and easy, with a lot of road noise. The section between 10th street and downtown Kalamazoo is very nice, with a gentle 4 mile slope.

I began my journey at a park in Comstock. This was a mistake, as the trail parallels busy M-96, and is not in the least scenic. Once it reaches the outskirts of K'zoo, it crosses the highway and follows the river into town. Very interesting and scenic there. North of K'zoo, and beyond the town of Parchment is where it's really lovely, with a perfectly smooth trail, lots of curves and hills, and thick, dense woods. About a 24 mile roundtrip for me. I'll go back in the fall, and park closer to K'zoo, preferably at a DNR river boat launch on the south side if M-96, about 4 mi beyond Comstock.

Pros:
1) Amazing scenery
2) Nice, lengthy ride
3) Smoothly paved grounds
4) There's a beautiful forrest around mile 11 or 12!!!!

Cons:
1) The smell can take some getting used to as parts of the trail near sewage and farms
2) Some of the hills are tough to pedal upward

Overall, I'd actually give this trail 4.5 stars. If you are an avid biker and appreciate nature, you will love this trail.

Early this summer my wife and I researched trails in Michigan that we might explore. Today we biked the Kalamzoo River Valley Trail beginning at the County Road D staging area. Wow! What a beautiful trail....biked the trail from D Ave. to downtown Kzoo. The serpentine and hilly trail was challenging but great fun. The trail is very well marked and kept up. Will do it again. The trail was not busy and remote a good part of the way but beautiful.

Living in the area, I'm quite impressed with what's been done in regard to our multi use trail system.

The western end of this trail follows old railroad bed, so it's pretty easy riding. There is one section that is well marked, but is on the shoulder of the road, but it's plenty wide and is quite safe. There is also the need to ride a few city streets in downtown Kalamazoo, as the trail terminates and requires that you use roads to pick it up again. I would caution that where the trail currently terminates is a very busy road (Westnedge Ave), and is not for inexperienced cyclists. I would recommend leaving the trail 1 or 2 streets prior, so you can use safer side streets.

Once you're back on the trail it gets much more interesting, as it turns north, follows the river, takes and eventually takes you through some rolling hills (a few of which are kind of long climbs. The northern most and (current) final section from the Nature Center to the termination point is wonderful, switching back and forth through a beautiful wooded area. One of the prettiest trail sections I think you'll find.

I'm only giving 4 stars for a few reasons. First of all are the bridge joints. Total fail. The concrete sections that support the ends of the bridge have an abrupt "edge", as the pavement up to them has shrunk away. Then where the concrete meets the wooden surface there is an angled steel plate, which is too narrow and sharp. quite a jolt on a road bike on just about every bridge in the northern section. Other trails on the east side of the state (for instance the Pere Marquette trail, out of Midland) have much more well engineered "joints". The other issue that you'll find is that the section between downtown Kalamazoo and Douglas road is regularly covered with broken glass in spots, so I would caution anyone with expensive tires to pay close attention.

The trail network around the area is expanding to the east, but I've not been on it yet. Looks quite nice. And, of course, the western end of the KRVT connects with the eastern end of the Kal Haven Trail, so you can now ride from various parts of Kalamazoo, all the way to South Haven with very little riding on roads.

The western end runs directly into the KalHaven Trail to South Haven with a trail head parking lot on 10th St. north of M43 (West Main St). Downtown you have to follow a foot trail along Arcadia Creek (be nice and don't scare the pedestrians) halfway way between Eleanor and Water Streets or ride on Water St. but avoid Kalamazoo and Michigan Ave., which are too busy. There are two short sections you have to ride on the road, one west of Douglas on Ravine Rd, which has a wide shoulder on the south side of the road and a 35MPH speed limit, so no problem. East of Arcadia Cr Park you have to ride on Water St., cross Kalamazoo St. and continue north on Porter 2 blocks, then east on Ransom 2 blocks, then south on Harrison: trail continues on the east side of Harrison. Both section are less then 1 mile each. The most beautiful section follows the Kalamazoo River north into the Kalamazoo Nature Center, where there are 2 parking lots along Westnedge Ave., south of D Ave. This section is extremely peaceful, wooded, and shaded but at times quite steep, especially the last part which dead ends into D Ave.--but no parking on D Ave. The eastern portion runs along the Kalamazoo River to Fort Custer Recreation Area (which has great mountain bike trails) and will eventually connect to the Battle Creek Linear Park. Online map is available at http://www.kalcounty.com/parks/mapsdir.htm as a printable PDF file. My recommendation for a break is Food Dance Restaurant, a (from the back modern looking) old building directly south of Water St on Pitcher St. at the corner of East Michigan.

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