2019 has been a huge year for the city of South Haven. One hundred and fifty years ago, the city was established as a town. In May we celebrated this anniversary with a community picnic that was largely successful. May was also a huge month, when South Haven was named one of the first Pure Michigan Trail Towns by DNR, Pure Michigan, and State officials. Now, there is something even larger debuting in September. The first Great Lake-to-Lake trail in Michigan, spearheaded by the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance, will have a trailhead rooted here in South Haven. Hikers, bikers, and trail enthusiasts alike will revel in this almost-entirely off-road trail system!
The Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance began the Great Lake to Lake Trails Project in 2009. Their vision is to promote an active outdoor lifestyle in Michigan. The creation of a lengthy nature trail will provide plenty of opportunities for Michiganders and out of state visitors to head outside and enjoy the natural scenery.
The Great Lake-to-Lake Route #1 will begin in South Haven and end in Port Huron (or vice versa). The total length is 275 miles. Large restored lake buoys will designate the trailheads of both South Haven and Port Huron, and signage will be posted along the way so the trail will be recognizable as Route #1. The Kal-Haven Trail will serve as the beginning trail network heading toward the eastern side of the state. At the end of this 33.5 mile stretch, the trail will then change to the Kalamazoo River Valley trail, and so on. A future goal for Route #1 is to be completely off-road, and a few areas are currently under construction in order to obtain that goal. Current and future interactive maps can be found on the Michigan Trails and Greenway Alliance’s website.
In order to kick-off the opening of this new trail network, South Haven will host up to 150 riders on September 13th, 2019 for a 6-day inaugural ride across Route #1 (registration is still open for those who are interested). Local, regional, and state officials will be present for the opening ceremony on Friday morning, as a light breakfast will be provided and bike tires will be ceremoniously dipped into Lake Michigan. When the riders reach Port Huron, those same tires will be dipped into Lake Huron. Several points of interest will be encountered along the way, along with fantastic dining opportunities and explorations of different towns across the 275 mile stretch. Over time, four more Great Lake-to-Lake Trails are set to be constructed so residents and visitors of the upper peninsula and northern lower peninsula will be able to enjoy similar trail experiences.
Overview of future Great Lake-to-Lake Trails
In addition, community celebrations will be held to recognize South Haven’s Pure Michigan Trail Town designation. On September 12th, the first mile of the Kal-Haven Trail will be host to over 150 fifth graders from nearby Baseline Middle School. The students will go on an educational walk, engaging in activities and discussions involving the history of the trail and local nature.
For more information on the Greenway Alliance's efforts on the trails, click here.
If you are interested in registering for the ride on September 13th, click here.
Photographs courtesy of Chris McGuire.
About the Author
Amanda Owens is a resident of South Haven, MI and is the Guest Services and Social Media Coordinator for the South Haven Convention and Visitors Bureau. She is a recent graduate of Western Michigan University with a bachelor's degree in Public History, and is delighted to help visitors with their trips to the beautiful city of South Haven.