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When 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.
As of 2017, the two components have been joined via the Downtown Connector, which zips from Westnedge Ave. to Harrison St. The link not only makes for a longer continuous ride and stress -free connection between the trail segments, but it also provides access to a number of downtown eateries as well as Kalamazoo Valley Museum. You probably notice the black metal fences – these are meant to force cyclists to dismount and cross on foot at points where the trail intersects with the Amtrak rail lines i.e. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo Ave., and Porter St.
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.
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