The Kal-Haven Trail In The News

Chicago Tribune
October2, 2019

Best fall bike rides in the Midwest: 3 epic trips for adventurous leaf peepers

No state has a more extensive rails-to-trails network than Michigan, where nearly 2,500 miles of railroad corridor have been converted into linear playgrounds for bikers and hikers.

One of the state’s first rail-trails ranks as one of the best, especially in the fall. The Kal-Haven Trail stretches 34 miles from Lake Michigan’s popular beach town of South Haven to the city of Kalamazoo.

Trains chugged along this route for a century until 1971. Now cyclists converge on this ribbon of mostly crushed limestone covered in dappled sunlight and flanked by tall trees.

Ride across the postcard-worthy covered bridge spanning the Black River and make a pit stop at Bumbleberry Acres in South Haven to pick up local fruit. Kick back in one of Bumbleberry’s hammocks with an apple cider doughnut.

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Ride of 275 miles from Great Lake to Great Lake draws the biking faithful

Mark Wedel | Thursday, September 19, 2019
 

“Later in the day, after many of the riders have passed through, Alysa Babcock of the Friends of the Kal-Haven says, “The ages — that shocked the hell out of me! I think the average age must be 65, it might even be more! You have a lot of older folks, and you think, jeeze, I’m 50 and I’m not in shape. But somebody who’s 75 is out here? Riding 40 miles a day? That’s amazing!” 

“Some are quite fast, but “it’s not a race,” Babcock says. “You gotta stop and see the wildflowers. See the wildlife. Blue heron, sandhill cranes… It’s not a race, you can stop and enjoy the beauty. And learn about the history.” She points to one of the Michigan Trail Heritage signs  the Friends helped erect along the trail this summer, next to a planter full of A.M. Todd’s favorite mint. “Mentha was the world leader in mint, how many people know about that?” 

“Matt Metzger, Michigan DNR ranger, arrives on his bike. He helped to plan the ride, and he’s on his bike to “encourage them on to Kalamazoo.” He’s often on his bike for his work on the trail, so Metzger knows why people might want to ride a bike across the state.”

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Great Lake to Lake Inaugural Ride – September 13, 2019

Who says Friday the 13th in an unlucky day? For the state of Michigan and the Kal-Haven Trail it was a grand day!

At 0800 this morning registration for the first Great Lake to Lake Trails ride began under a torrential downpour at South Beach in South Haven. But as breakfast continued (thanks to Visit South Haven and Taste) the sky began to clear and the day was looking bright.

As the registered riders lined up along the beach ready to dip their rear tires into Lake Michigan (their front tires will dip into Lake Huron) the sun came out. Score!

The registered riders, friends and DNR staff rode behind a police escort to the Kal-Haven trailhead where a short ceremony took place to both inaugurate Route 1 of the Great Lake to Lake Trail and to display a 10′ tall Lake buoy refurbished in Green to represent the port side of the state with a matching buoy at Port Huron in Red for the starboard side of the state. The buoys marking the ends of Route 1.

Then the ride was on!

The Friends of the Kal-Haven had snack tables set up at Grand Junction, Bloomingdale and Mentha before the riders headed out to Kalamazoo for more celebrations, dinner and a much needed rest.

To Kurt Maxwell, Director of the Kal-Haven Trail State Park, to his crew, to Friends Randy and Sharon, Alysia, Donita, and Sue. to Van Buren County Administrator John Faul and his staff and to the *amazing* staff at the South Haven visitors bureau we THANK YOU.

275 mile trail ends in Port Huron, inaugural bike ride planned

August 12, 2019

The Times Herald

Once, Bob Wilson and his son rode their bikes about an hour to a relative’s house along the trails of Meridian Township. On the way, Wilson said he passed by about 30 people, nearly all of whom said hello or waved.

Wilson tells this story when advocating for trail funding as part of his position as executive director of Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance, which is coordinating a statewide trail routes. Trails like the one he used can help bring people together, he said. 

“It’s a cool social phenomenon,” he said. 

The Michigan Trails and Greenways Alliance is working on stitching together trails throughout the state. The opening of the first leg of the project will be commemorated with a 275-mile bike ride next month, ending in Port Huron.

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A trail runs through it

Michigan’s newest, longest bike trail links Lake Michigan to Lake Huron

  • By BECKY KARK – For The Herald-Palladium

SOUTH HAVEN — A decade ago retired inventor and philanthropist Mike Levine of Lakeland, Mich., envisioned a bicycle trail stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.

“My son said, ‘Dad, you’re trying to do the impossible,’” Levine recalled.

But Friday, Levine’s dream finally came true with the official opening of Michigan’s first Great Lake-to-Lake Trail.

Made possible in part with a pledge of $5 million Levine made in 2016, the 270-mile trail stretches from the Kal-Haven Trail in South Haven to the Bridge to Bay Trail in Port Huron. It travels through nine counties, 34 towns and links 16 existing trails.

August 2, 2019

Great Lake-to-Lake bike ride debuts on trail network stretching from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron

MLive
 

A new cross-state bike event this fall will not only let cyclists dip their tires in two of the Great Lakes, but will mark the debut of a multi-use trail network that outdoor enthusiasts believe will become a destination corridor in Michigan.

The Great Lake-to-Lake Trails Route #1 Inaugural Ride will take riders across the state from Sept. 13 to Sept. 19. The route begins in the beach town of South Haven and stretches east to Port Huron.

The 275-mile ride is being billed as a sightseeing adventure. It’s limited to 150 riders, and registration ends on Aug. 15.

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August 3, 2019

Official unveiling of the Kal-Haven Heritage Trail Project

Today was an amazing day for the Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail, a great day for the trail and an historic day for the people of southwest Michigan and the tourists who travel from far and wide to experience their time on the Kal-Haven Trail.

Kudos, mazel tov and hearty congratulations go out to everyone who participated, not only today, but for the last three years to make the Heritage Trail Project come to fruition. This First-In-The-State project is now being copied on several other trails across Michigan based on our work and dedication to telling the story of what came before.

We could list all the names of the people who helped on the Heritage Trail Project and those who worked to make today’s events memorable but the list would run for quite some time. But, you know you are! Thanks!

Friday, August 26, 2019

The Friends make the News!

 From the Herald-Palladium
 

“SOUTH HAVEN — Kal-Haven Trail is making history, as the 34-mile path is the first in the state to be part of a new project that mixes heritage with recreation.

Signs denoting historic facts about the trail, which was a former railroad bed, will be erected for people to view as part of a pilot program to integrate heritage with recreation on linear trails across the state.

“There will be roughly 30 panels (signs) spread along the 34 miles of the Kal-Haven that are generally focused on the laying of the (railroad) line, the communities that sprang up along it – those that are no longer, and the physical geography/geology of this part of Michigan,” said Jeff Green, Friends of Kal-Haven Trail vice president.

The first of those signs was installed recently just east of the covered bridge spanning the south branch of the Black River in South Haven Township.

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June 13, 2019

Connecting VB County

Non-motorized trail summits aim to update 8-year-old plans

The about 20 attendees of the summit Tuesday identified several priorities, including the Paw Paw to Mattawan trail, it would like to see on the updated plan.

 

For on-road, they’d like to see expansion in the Sister Lakes Area and a shoulder on County Road 681 between Bangor and the Kal-Haven Trail. Some sort of bicycle lane on M-43 from Bangor to South Haven was also proposed, as well as trails from Lawton to Paw Paw and Decatur to I-94.

Regarding off-road facilities, their main priority is developing the Fruit Belt Trail from Hartford to Paw Paw. They also want to see improvements to the Van Buren Trail from Hartford to South Haven and some sort of north/south connector between Mattawan and the Kal-Haven Trail.

Trail Link – Winter 2018

Fred Meijer Trail Champion Awards

WMTGC’s annual Fred Meijer Trail Champion awards honor Fred’s legacy while recognizing the contributions of the individuals and groups who make our trails great. Here are this year’s award recipients:

Trail Volunteer – Sue Hodapp
Kalamazoo resident Sue Hodapp is a Master Gardener from the MSU Extension Master Gardener Volunteer Program. For many years she has led a group maintaining native plants on the Kal-Haven Trail between F and G Avenues in Kalamazoo County. Her activities include eradication of invasive plants, encouragement of Michigan wildflowers, and careful trimming to maintain the trail.

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Dayhiking the Kal-Haven Trail

June 20, 2015

Two years we trained for this particular very long hike, without getting it together to make the trip to Kalamazoo during the few summer weeks when the days are long enough to through-hike the Kal-Haven Trail in a day. This year we made it happen.

 

Two years we trained for this particular very long walk, without getting it together to make the trip to Kalamazoo during the few summer weeks when the days are long enough to through-hike the Kal-Haven Trail in a day. This year we made it happen.

We meant to be at the trailhead by dawn which was 6:05 AM, but breakfast and final checking of gear took a little longer than we’d hoped. It was almost one hour later when we posed for pictures in front of the sign. We were walking just a few minutes later. Jackie started Endomondo at 7:06.

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May 28, 2019

Variety of terrain, scenery makes biking trails great fun in Michigan

Michigan state parks welcomes cyclists and many of its trails are perfect for biking whether you seek a leisurely ride with your family or want to tackle more challenging terrain on your mountain bike. Maia Turek, resource development specialist, Pure Michigan DNR Parks and Recreation, said many state biking paths are perfect for long or short rides because they are linear.

The Kal-Haven Trail Is a 34-mile trail made of crushed limestone that connects Kalamazoo with South Haven. Following a former railroad line, it offers a beautiful, scenic ride that takes you across bridges and through quaint small towns on the west side of the state.

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Thursday June 21, 2018

Weekend bike trek can be prelude to a big ride or a simple getaway. Here’s one route.

Sherman and I headed for the Kal-Haven Trail, the most beautiful stretch of car-free bikeable grit (firmly packed, mostly; fine for everything except skinny road tires) in southwest Michigan. 

The length of the Kal-Haven would be the perfect weekend ride for the beginner, or anyone wanting the most relaxing weekend on wheels. Just ride out around 40 to 50 miles (including the linking Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, starting in Galesburg), spend a night or a day in South Haven, take in the majesty of Lake Michigan, ride back–
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An update on the trail that will connect Great Lakes and small businesses

Connections are being made through a small town for a long trail.

When complete, the trail network known as Great Lake-to-Lake Route #1 will range from macro — an attraction for biking tourists looking to pedal from Lake Michigan to Lake Huron — to micro — a means for small-town students to walk or bike to school.
 
The work that’ll start late this summer in the city of Galesburg seems pretty micro. When finished in the spring of 2020, the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail will extend about 2.3 miles through the small town. There will then be 4.5 miles of construction to go to connect with Battle Creek’s trail system.

How will the Great Lake-to-Lake benefit our area? 

“We’re definitely excited about the potential,” David Rachowicz,  director of Kalamazoo County Parks, says. “I think for all of the southern third of Michigan, where the majority of our population is, and where visitors come into our state, having that resource through communities will be a huge plus to attract people to use the trail.” 

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Kal-Haven Trail a success after early struggles

The sale of the land for the trail was approved in 1985 and it opened in 1989, but attempts to build the trail started years earlier.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources originally proposed the Kal-Haven project in the early 1970s. Another unsuccessful campaign was led by a South Haven group later that decade. Another failed campaign in 1981 left supporters feeling discouraged, but their efforts weren’t a waste.

“We learned a lot from them,” said Rick Oberle, who began leading another trail campaign after being appointed to the Van Buren County Planning Commission in 1983.

Oberle said the previous groups’ struggles foreshadowed the biggest stumbling blocks for the new group: landowners afraid of trespassing and drug use in their backyards if the trail was built.

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