The 33.5-mile linear Kal-Haven Trail was built using the abandoned South Haven and Kalamazoo railroad route. The railroad route was in use from 1870 through 1970. Using limestone and a slag surface, this excellent trail is perfect for biking and hiking, which is one of the reasons that it should be on your Michigan summer bucket list.
About the Kal-Haven Trail
The Kal-Haven Trail State Park in Van Buren County offers one of the best things to do in Michigan during the summer months as there are so many things to stop and see along the way.
While the main trailheads are at either end in South Haven and Kalamazoo, there are several access points along the way, including Bloomingdale and Grand Junction. In fact, the village of Bloomingdale is considered to be the “midpoint” of the trail and provides a welcome rest area with points of interest to explore (Depot Museum) and vault toilets.
The Kal-Haven Heritage Trail project includes panels that inform visitors about the area’s natural and cultural history. A mobile app aids in finding the locations of the 31 panels as you walk, run, hike, or bike the trail. And don’t miss stopping at Camelback Bridge along the way for a great photo opportunity!
Exploring the Kal-Haven Trail
If you start your trip from the eastern trailhead on 10th Street in Kalamazoo, you’ll enjoy seeing the refurbished caboose that serves as the trail office and information center. Be sure to fuel up before hitting the trail as there aren’t a plethora of places to eat or drink along the way (though there are plenty of bathroom break opportunities).
Next, make a point to stop in Kendall and look around. This small town was once the home of a successful company that produced barrel staves with a steam saw-mill from the oak forests surrounding the area.
As you continue to bike down the trail, the chances are that you will get hungry. There are several great places near the trail in Gobles for grabbing a quick bite to eat, including The Den Cafe which is known for its soups, subs, and pizzas.
After you finish your lunch, it is time to get back on the trail and continue toward the beautiful town of South Haven. This wonderful beach town has plenty to offer, including one of the best Lake Michigan beaches.
Before you head to the beach, make sure that you stop at Sherman’s Dairy Bar for some of the best ice creams you will ever eat. From excellent cones to great sundaes, milkshakes, and malts in almost any flavor you can imagine, Sherman’s Dairy Bar is someplace that everyone in your group is going to enjoy.
Once you grab your ice cream from Sherman’s, head on down to the fabulous beach and enjoy the incredible lake views, stay on the beach until sunset to see one of the most beautiful sights in the world. There is nothing quite like the sun setting over the water on a warm Michigan summer night.
After the sunset, chances are you are ready for a drink. There are many great places along the shore and throughout South Haven where you can relax and unwind for the evening. Admiral Jack’s is a favorite bar that provides a wonderful Tiki feel. Captain Lou’s is another beautiful spot to enjoy the afternoon and evening while you are in South Haven.
Campgrounds Along the Kal-Haven Trail
When you are in South Haven, you will want to stay for at least the night. After enjoying a fantastic ride on the Kal-Haven trail, there is nothing quite like camping under the stars, which also should be on everyone’s Michigan bucket list.
Kal-Haven RV Park Campground is located a half-mile from Lake Michigan and just a quarter-mile from downtown South Haven. The campground is open from May 15th through October 15th. There are spaces for primitive tent camping as well as RVs.
If you are looking for a unique campground a little further away from town, Kal-Haven Outpost is the perfect place for you. There are some excellent primitive sites surrounded by woods as well as pull-through RV sites. Kal-Haven Outpost also offers large and small cabins, perfect for family get-togethers.
We've included local campgrounds in most of the #MIAwesomeList posts to help you get the most out of your Michigan summer bucket list adventures!
No RV? No worries. You can save up to 25% on your travel costs this summer by renting an RV through RVshare!
Whether you want to pull it behind you or have it all set up at your destination, renting an RV is the best way to enjoy all your summer adventures in Michigan!
Additional South Haven Hotel & Vacation Rental Options
If camping isn’t your thing, no worries! South Haven hotels and vacation rentals offer a variety of lodging options, including these:
Photos Along the Kal-Haven Trail