Michigan Hiking, Nature February 01, 2023
by Emily Tieman Follow This Abandoned Railroad Trail For One Of The Most Unique Hikes In Michigan
The Great Lake State is home to thousands of gorgeous hiking trails, but few have as much history as this previous path of industry. One of the most unique hiking experiences in Michigan is a rail trail spanning 33 miles from Kalamazoo to South Haven. The trail was once a thriving railroad that was abandoned and later restored into a State Park.
Kal-Haven Trail State Park is a former railroad linking the city of South Haven to the city of Kalamazoo. The Kal-Haven Trail is completely free to the public and is frequented by hikers, joggers, bikers, and dog walkers.
In 1870 the Kalamazoo-South Haven Railroad transported lumber between Kalamazoo and South Haven for just over 100 years before when the line was abandoned. The Kal-Haven Trail opened to the public in 1989 for residents to explore.
The trail passes over through lush forests, farmland, small towns, orchards, scenic wetlands, and ends on the shores of Lake Michigan. All the while you are slowly going down 300 feet in elevation.
The best way to learn about the history of the trail is to download the Kal-Haven Heritage Trail Map app. There is a map of the trail with links to photographs and histories of various points along the rail trail.
One of Michigan’s most beautiful covered bridges is on the Kal-Haven trail. The 108 feet long Donald F. Nichols Covered Bridge was constructed from a former railroad trestle bridge that was located along the rail route.
The trail is breathtaking in all four seasons with lovely wildflowers in the spring.
Arguably the best time to visit the rail trail is in the fall when you’ll pass under a fiery canopy of colorful trees.
If you love winter activities like snowmobiling, cross-country skiing, and fat tire snow biking you’ll enjoy this trail the most in the colder months.
For a map or to donate to this public park, visit the Kal-Haven Trail website. Have you visited this incredible Michigan rail trail before? Let us know about your experience! For more railroad history, check out 9 Scenic Rail Trails In Metro Detroit That Are Downright Picture-Perfect.
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