August is moving past quickly and the summer season is drawing closer to an end. While living in Michigan is great, and definitely has its perks, endlessly good weather is unfortunately not one of them. Soon enough we will all be trading in our swim trunks for snow pants, barbecues for snowplows, and bicycles for skis and snowboards. With that in mind, and a few handfuls of sunny days still to come, we can leave off lamenting for summer for now and mount up our bikes for a couple more good rides. And where better to prolong that summer feeling than on the 30 mile-long Kal-Haven Trail, biking or hiking across lush forestry and a bit of stunning Michigan scenery and history.
With trailheads on 10th Street in Kalamazoo and North Bailey Avenue in South Haven, the Kal-Haven Trail measures out to an impressive 33.5 miles of terrain for all non-motorized vehicles during the summer. Year round the trail is monitored and maintained by the Van Buren County Road Commission, so the trail is kept in a clear but natural state, perfect conditions for mountain biking.
Besides the joy of riding through the rough, the trail itself has a bit of history to be appreciated. The trail was originally cleared as part of a rail system completed in 1870 that ran between Kalamazoo and South Haven on mainly lumber-related business. Along this trail a whole infrastructure and even a few towns were built. Now, 140 years later, the train bed has been converted to a limestone-slag base and the remnants of the train and early Michigan industry can still be seen along the path.
Now, biking and running are great for the warmer months, and I do love a good trek on a nice day. But,as we’ve already established, the mercury is soon to fall and if we’re going to be doing anything outdoors it’s likely to involve snow. But, lucky for us, the Kal-Haven Trail is open all year round to all types of recreation, not the least of which include snow-showing, cross-country skiing, and snowmobiling. A four-inch snow base is required for the latter of course, but that is rarely a concern at the height of a Michigan winter.
With a year-long smattering of whatever wandering sport might be your pleasure, The Kal-Haven Trail is a good, winding journey along some very interesting terrain. As I said, the trail is open year round from 8 AM to 10 PM, with day passes available at the trailheads and along the path at $3 a person or $7 for a family. Season passes are also available for those sporty return customers at $15 a head or $35 for the family unit. If you are up for the journey and willing to take in some marvelous scenery, pack up your particular recreational fix and take a little day-trip along The Kal-Haven Trail.
For more info on the Kal-Haven Trail, check out its page at the Van-Buren County Community Center website.
Chris Dier-Scalise, Feature Writer