WRITER | LISA BECKER CAMPBELL
Autumn prevails as the most multicolored season to bike the Kal-Haven Trail as it winds its way through woods, farmland, and quaint villages cloaked in their brilliant fall splendor. Tasteful fare along the way – from local U-Pick farms, farm markets, breweries, and wineries – also delightfully celebrates the season.
The well-groomed and -maintained trail traverses the former route of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad for 34 miles. Shorter trips can be enjoyed with destinations at trailheads in Gobles or Bloomingdale.
With Gobles as a starting point, South Haven is about 23 miles away. The city and surrounding townships are rich in natural resources and beauty, with more than 36 freshwater lakes in the area.
Depart from Bloomingdale, and the trek is roughly 15 miles one way. The trail runs directly through the main business district, and cyclists often pause to enjoy the Augustus Haven Park and its Depot Museum.
In South Haven, the trailhead at the Trail State Park is just six blocks from shopping and dining in the charming downtown. Or continue biking on the newly paved Van Buren State Park Trail, spanning more than 14 miles from South Haven to Hartford. Trailheads are at 57th Avenue in Hartford and Lovejoy Avenue in South Haven.
Relax on a sandy beach on the Lake Michigan shoreline or paddle the Bangor/South Haven Heritage Water Trail, an easy canoe/kayak route extending 20 miles.
Fall activities in South Haven include the National Blueberry Festival, August 10-13. The celebration of the city’s status as the Blueberry Capital of the World includes such quintessential events as a kids’ blueberry pie eating contest and free entertainment overlooking the harbor every evening.
The Sixth Annual Lakeshore Harvest Ride – a bicycle tour of the art and agriculture of the area – starts at the Kal-Haven Trailhead in South Haven on September 9.
Other events include the Smooth Sunset and Jazz Festival Weekend, September 15-17, and the Haven Harvest Fest, October 20-22.
In Kalamazoo, beloved destinations include the Air Zoo, Binder Park Zoo, or The Institute of Arts. Diverse events in the area offer something for everyone. For example, the second annual Great Lakes Book Bash is a two-day celebration of all things literary. Taking place Friday and Saturday, October 27-28, the conference allows readers and over 70 authors of all genres to enjoy each other’s company. The less bookish among us can enjoy the 23rd annual Muscle Cars PLUS Show and Swap Meet at the Gilmore Car Museum in nearby Hickory Corners during the weekend of September 10.
As fall succumbs to winter, activity on the path will continue. Snowmobilers will replace the cyclists to enjoy the seasonal outdoor delights along the Kal-Haven Trail.