Before the advent of automobiles and highways, trains carried Michiganders and cargo across a system of rails connecting small towns, big cities, and Great Lakes ports. As cars and air travel became more popular, this rail system slowly became obsolete. Beginning in the 1960s, conservationists and outdoors enthusiasts around the country started a movement
to convert these railroads to trails for public use. Michigan now has approximately 120 rail-trails totaling more than 2,000 miles
On my recent trip to South Haven
, I had the opportunity to run along the Kal-Haven Trail on the morning I left town. The trail is a 34.5 mile former railroad that connects Kalamazoo and South Haven. I started at the trailhead, which is about one mile northeast of downtown South Haven. I parked in the trailhead's lot, stretched, and began running.
|A view of the Black River from the Kal-Haven Trail|
I ran an out-and-back of approximately 15 miles, so I only saw about 7.5 miles of the trail. The first stretch of the trail is paved before it eventually turns into crushed limestone. The starting mile marker is probably about 0.2 miles into the trail. The trail has a mile marker every mile. I questioned the accuracy of a couple of mile markers because twice I had a very quick (for me) split immediately followed by a slow split, and I don't think my pace was varying that much.