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Section of Kal Haven Trail State Park reopens

After 10 months, an improvement project that closed a section of the Kal-Haven Trail is now complete, allowing the Michigan Department of Natural Resources to reopen the 14-mile trail section between South Haven and Bloomingdale.

The project, which was made possible thanks to a proposed $6 million in federal relief funding, included resurfacing the trail section and bridge replacements, among other work.

“We’re thrilled to reopen this segment of the Kal-Haven Trail State Park after a much-needed upgrade – this section of trail had not had any major maintenance or improvements since it was constructed over 30 years ago,” said Tim Novak, state trails coordinator for the DNR Parks and Recreation Division. “The American Rescue Plan Act funding allowed us to tackle a large-scale project all at one time. Inspections had determined that there were major safety concerns with the condition of the bridges and required us to elevate the priority of this project.”

“The completed infrastructure, surfacing and accessibility improvements ensure that a beloved recreation destination is available today and for future generations,” Novak said. “Kal-Haven Trail State Park now offers a beautiful, safe, more accessible trail experience for everyone to enjoy.”

The trail improvements are greatly appreciated and will have a positive impact on the community, said Jennifer Sistrunk, executive director of the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau.

"The new, accessible section on the Kal-Haven Trail is fantastic for South Haven residents and visitors to enjoy for years to come," Sistrunk said.

Project history

In 2019, the DNR identified the need for improvements and upgrades to this section of the Kal-Haven Trail State Park and allocated funding to begin preliminary design and engineering work. This work included structural inspections of the three bridges along this stretch of trail.

After completing the inspections in August 2022, the DNR prioritized replacement of the trail's three bridges. Given the poor condition of the trail infrastructure, the DNR identified this trail project as among those that would receive a portion of the ARPA funding.

Earlier this year, the DNR continued discussions with the South Haven/Van Buren County Convention and Visitors Bureau and South Haven Area Recreation Authority to explore options to honor the legacy of the former cover of the Black River Bridge. This included discussion about the South Haven Area Recreation Authority purchasinga 49-acre property located adjacent to the Kal-Haven Trail State Park and formerly known as the Riverwoods development.

This purchasing process is underway, and more information is expected to be shared by the DNR and the South Haven Area Recreation Authority in the coming months.

"The Black River Bridge is an important part of South Haven's history, and we are grateful to be working with the DNR to make plans to honor its legacy," Sistrunk said.

Additional project details

  • The trail sections originally paved asphalt were replaced as asphalt, while the areas that are limestone aggregate surfacing remain the same aggregate material. Warning surfaces at intersections were replaced, and regulatory signage was updated and replaced as needed.
  • The trailhead parking area on County Road 687 in Kibbie near South Haven was redone with an improved layout, new aggregate surfacing material, designated parking spots built to Americans with Disabilities Act guidelines and an accessible path from the parking lot to the trail. The Grand Junction trailhead parking lot also received a refresh, to include gravel resurfacing and a new limestone pathway connecting the parking lot to the trail.
  • The 8th Avenue area of the trail was realigned to match up on both sides of the road.
  • The County Road 388/Phoenix Road crossing was straightened to provide an easier crossing for trail users and better visibility for vehicles traveling on the road.

The funding

This project is fully funded with American Rescue Plan Act funds; no private funding is, or has ever been, dedicated toward it. Prior to ARPA, the plan was to fund using various grant sources.

A $273 million boost in federal America Rescue Plan relief funding was approved by the Michigan Legislature and has enabled the DNR to tackle a decades-long backlog of state parks, recreation and trail system infrastructure and rehabilitation needs. The funding, secured through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 and aligned with Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s Building Michigan Together Plan, will also support the construction of a new state park in Flint (Genesee County).

Altogether, the funding includes the initial $250 million allocated in March 2022 – $219.8 million for state parks program repair/rehabilitation needs and $30.2 million for the new state park in Flint – plus an additional $23 million allocated in August 2023 for Belle Isle Park rehabilitation.

Follow our progress

To stay up to date on projects and learn more about funding and decision-making, visit to find:

  • Frequently asked questions.
  • State parks facts.
  • An evolving photo gallery, including many examples of the work needing to be done. As projects are completed, "after" photos will be added.
  • An interactive map identifying proposed project locations and details, including status (proposed, design/bid phase, construction started or project completed) of each project. Please note: This map is specific to ARPA-funded projects; it does not include the variety of other work happening at state parks, trails and waterways.

Questions on this project? Contact DNR state trails coordinator Tim Novak at 517-388-8347.

Note to editors: Accompanying photos are available below for download. Caption information follows. Please credit the Michigan Department of Natural Resources.

  • Bridge upgrade: Barber Creek Bridge at Kal-Haven Trail State Park was replaced during the renovation project. Benches at this spot are set to be added soon as well.
  • Barber Creek Bridge: Trail resurfacing around Barber Creek Bridge was also part of the Kal-Haven Trail State Park improvement project.
  • Spicebush Creek Bridge: This new bridge at Kal-Haven Trail State Park features a concrete deck with an epoxy coating. The trail was resurfaced and regraded in this area to have a gentler slope from the adjacent road (CR 681) to help with trail erosion issues.