The Kal-Haven Trail, also called the Kal-Haven Trail Sesquicentennial State Park, is over thirty miles of reconditioned railway line that once stretched from Kalamazoo to South Haven. Today, this route is pupular with hikers, bikers and horseback riders who can enjoy the small historic towns of Southwest Michigan. Dogs are also welcome to join you, but should be leashed throughout the trail.
Starting from the eastern endpoint in Kalamazoo, you can access the trail off of 10th Street N, between West G Avenue and West H Avenue. Here you'll find a parking area, drinking fountains and restrooms. Going west from this trailhead, you'll begin the Kal-Haven Trail, but if you cross the street and head east, you'll be traveling the Kalamazoo River Valley Trail, which weaves its way through Kalamazoo.
Heading west, you'll head through 7 miles of tree shade, passing through the town of Alamo where another drinking fountain and restroom are located, and the fields of the old Mentha Plantation, which was once considered the best producer of peppermint oil in the early 20th century. There's also another restroom and drinking fountain station here.
Next, you'll head through Kendall which offers a restroom, then Pine Grove Mills where another restroom and drinking fountain is located, before skirting the edges of Gobles for another restroom stop, as well as a trailhead. About 18 miles in, the Bloomingdale Depot offers a unique stop for travelers, a repurposed red caboose and railroad museum that also offers parking for the trail, water and restrooms.
Still heading west, you'll come to Grand Junction, with a trailhead, parking, restrooms and water, as well as many u-pick blueberry farms that may be a pawfect side trip for you and your pup. Two miles later will bring you to the Camelback Bridge, then through the town of Lacota, and later on, another stop for water and restrooms. Once you pass state highway 196, the trail will head southwest to South Haven. The end trailhead is near the Black River, right off of Bailey Avenue, where there is also parking.
With lots of bathroom and water opportunities, the trail passes through orchards, farms, wooded areas, small towns, and wetlands, mostly under woofderful tree cover. A connector trail through South Haven from the trailhead off of Bailey can take you to the shore of Lake Michigan and the historic South Pier Lighthouse. There's camping areas available along the way near Gobles, and in South Haven. The path itself is easy with little incline and surfaced with crushed limestone. While easy on those with shoes, it can be dry and dusty, and harsh on the paw pads of younger dogs, so be sure to check those pup paws often.
As with any long trek, be sure to have all the essentials you'll need for a safe and puptastic time, including water to share with your thirsty pup, snacks and food, and of course, clean-up bags. Keep the trail dog-friendly by always picking up whatever your pup lays down.
For a unique hike through historic Southwest Michigan, check out the Kal-Haven Trail with your pup!