Dedicated in 1989, the Kal-Haven Trail is the cornerstone of Michigan's outstanding network of linear trails. At that time, Michigan Department of Natural Resources planners described the trail as a "demonstration project" and a "pioneering effort, " because the conversion of rail corridors to trails was a relatively new concept. David Hales, former director of the DNR, told members of the volunteer organization that drove the project forward: "Your example will be critical to the start of a trail system in Michigan." Just as the development of the Kal-Haven Trail helped lay the groundwork for Michigan's trail system, it is now the pilot project for a program to integrate heritage on trails across the state.
The pilot project began in late 2015, with public meetings in Kalamazoo, Bloomingdale and South Haven. In 2016, volunteer work groups met regularly on design and research, an application was submitted to the Michigan Natural Resources Trust fund to finance the project, a thorough survey of the trail was completed, and the Michigan History Center's Heritage Trail Coordinator wrote an interpretive plan.
In 2018, the goal is to install interpretive signs along the trail, develop native plant gardens, create a multisensory natural display at Mentha, and roll out an innovative mobile app designed for increased accessibility. Other heritage interpretation methods will be implemented in the future.