Another windy start from the lakeside town of South Haven: clear skies, westerly winds at 10-15mph, and a pleasant 70 degrees. Today marked the start of Michigan’s Lake-to-Lake trail: a designated 270 mile trail connecting Lake Michigan to Lake Huron.
This ambitious state trail project culminated with a grand opening inaugural ride in 2019. The full trail connects 18 trails and is mostly ‘off-road’, some paved and some hard-packed gravel. From South Haven, the ride starts on the Kal-Haven trail, named after the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad constructed in 1869. Trains traveled the route until 1971. Then, in 1973, local citizens interested in transforming the abandoned rail bed into a multi-use trail worked tirelessly to raise funds and overcome opposition (some nearby residents feared the trail would invade their privacy and bring crime). Eventually, over 800 ‘Friends of the Kal-Haven Trail’ prevailed and officially opened the trail in 1989. And what a great trail it is… 38 blissful miles thru a thick tree-covered canopy; enjoyed by joggers, dog-walkers, high-school cross-country teams, stroller-pushing parents, wildlife, and even crazy cross-country cyclists. Deep in the woods, the early-morning air temperature dropped to a chill 56 degrees.
Jax also joined midway for some Kal-Haven trail fun:
Eventually, the Kal-Haven connects with the Kalamazoo River Valley (KRV) trail thru downtown Kalamazoo and points eastward. A 20+ mile paved trail thru urban, suburban, and rural settings. It wasn’t until the town of Kalamazoo that I exited the tree canopy and realized the wind was still blowing. Further upstream and thankfully downwind, the town of Battle Creek also boasts a nice riverside trail, complete with artwork depicting some of the rich history of the area (including a commemorative statue depicting people of the ‘Underground Railroad’, who courageously brought southern slaves northward to freedom). Named the ‘Linear Park Trail’, it serves as an excellent connector between the town’s cultural and recreational facilities.
Lastly, a rural jaunt thru cornfields and blueberry farms to our overnight city for tonight: Marshall, MI. And celebrating 82 miles travelled with beverages at the local brewery’s beer barn.
Tomorrow’s ride will continue on Michigan’s Lake-to-Lake trail for 80+ miles to the town of Whitmore Lake.