The Kal-Haven is a rail trail, as it runs along the former route of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad. It traverses wooded areas, farmland and through small towns. It's primarily used by hikers and bicyclists in the summer and snowmobilers in the winter. The trail is surfaced, though not blacktopped. There are some miles of parallel trail in the western portion used by horse trail riding enthusiasts.
Currently the trail goes through, starting from the east:
The trail is owned by the state of Michigan but, due to state budget cutbacks, in 2004 operation was taken over by Van Buren County, including the portion in Kalamazoo County. A trail pass system was re-instituted to pay for trail maintenance. They are available from the county, at trailheads, and some stores along the route.
Several miles south of the western terminus is another trail--the Van Buren Trail State Park. This is also an old railroad bed, ending in Hartford, Michigan. The trail is unimproved and the largest group of users is comprised of snowmobilers and horse and buggy riders. This is also operated by Van Buren County. The trail pass is valid for both.
In November 2004 the State of Michigan completed a tunnel underneath the U.S. Highway 131 freeway, which was the major impediment to extending the trail to downtown Kalamazoo. However, beyond the tunnel, that trail has yet to be built. The city of Kalamazoo has approved a $1 million project to extend the trail southeast under U.S. 131 along Ravine Road to Westnedge Avenue in downtown Kalamazoo. Most of the extension will be built along the former roadbed of the Kalamazoo and South Haven Railroad.