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Biking the Kal-Haven Trail


Grab your goofy helmets and tight neon spandex. Find a pair of your best Oakley’s, don’t forget a hefty bottle of water and prepare yourself for a day of riding your bicycle down the Kal-Haven Trail, southwest Michigan’s exquisite bicycle trail between Kalamazoo and South Haven.

The Kal-Haven Trail is a 34.5 mile trail that runs from the northern areas of Kalamazoo to the east side of South Haven. The trail is great for bikers, walkers, snowmobilers, and cross-country skiers making it a wonderful trip in all seasons. The trail provides ample views of the countryside, including fields, forests, and several small communities along the way. The Kal-Haven Trail is a rails to trails success story that fills the old shoes of the railroad that ran between the cities from 1870 to 1970, and provides smooth, flat inclines and a nice wide trail way for all seasons.  The numerous entry points in the various communities provide plenty of opportunities to tailor your trip to exactly the length you desire.

The Kal-Haven Trail is easy to find in both South Haven and Kalamazoo. Most adventurers start their journey at the Kalamazoo trailhead off of 10th Street. Easily identifiable by the large red caboose that serves as an information station, the 10th Street trailhead is a perfect place to park your car for the day, fill your water bottles, and embark on your journey to Lake Michigan. With proper planning, you can make the most out of your trip and have a wonderful time enjoying everything that southwest Michigan has to offer. It is best to decide exactly how long you seek to spend on the trail and what you want out of your day. The trail is long enough to provide you with entertainment for a few hours, half a day, or an overnight stay if you so choose.

When you arrive at the Kalamazoo trailhead, you will want to make sure you purchase a trail pass. The caboose is occasionally staffed by trail rangers, but also includes a drop box for your cash that helps support and maintain the trail. Individual day passes can be obtained for three dollars and family passes for seven dollars. The trail also offers annual rates for the frequent user. While some choose to risk using the trail without a pass, if you are stopped by one of the rangers on the trail, you will be asked to purchase a pass on the spot. Save yourself and others the headache and purchase a pass at the trailhead.

The trail winds its way through various small communities in southwest Michigan including Grand Junction, Bloomingdale, Gobles, and Kendall. It is also close to several other small towns that offer restaurants and other services while out on the trail. The trail itself has several water pumps and outhouses to ensure comfort and safety while out on the trail. It is also well-developed so that you can avoid dangerous branches, ride safely, and enjoy the hospitality of welcoming communities.

There are many ways you can approach your journey down the trail. If you are an adventurous individual, you may want to pack a tent and supplies for a journey to South Haven and a night of camping. If you appreciate the amenities of home, a day trip is possible as well. If you have the legs, you can easily ride from Kalamazoo to South Haven and back within the hours of daylight. However, as most of us enjoy the leisure that biking provides, the smartest way to enjoy your trip down the Kal-Haven is to find a car spotter who can follow your progress along the trail, as well as provide the transport for your bikes when you finish.

The trail is well marked and resources such as the trail’s website provide printable maps which are excellent for car spotters looking to provide assistance to the day bikers. Car spotters can turn your bike ride from a stressful, intensely planned trip into an excellent and enjoyable day trip filled with nature’s splendor.  While there are ample water stops along the way, cars can be loaded up with plenty of water, food, and a cool place for those who find the bike ride a little harder than others. Additionally, the car spotter can stake out an excellent place to stop for lunch and have a picnic ready for tired and hungry bikers. Proper planning will ensure that you as a biker will not tire and have a plenty of energy to make your Kal-Haven experience a memorable one. The best day can be ended with the best sunset at the South Haven beach.

If you choose not to ride the entire trail in a day, there are many other trailheads along the way from which to disembark. The Kal-Haven is certainly a great source of entertainment for as long a day as you choose to enjoy. In all, the Kal-Haven Trail is a beautiful way to spend a summer or autumn day enjoying the splendors of nature in southwest Michigan. While helmets are a must, the neon spandex is completely optional.

For more information regarding the Kal-Haven Trail please visit