What is a Heritage Water Trail?
Heritage water trails are routes on navigable waterways such as rivers, lakes, and canals designed and implemented to foster an interactive historical education experience. Historical markers posted on bridge crossing highlight historic events or themes related to the waterway. A companion guide provides a more detailed presentation of the historic material in addition to acting as a more conventional water trail guide with maps, put-in points, take-out points, rest stop locations, paddling conditions, etc. An interpretive program and exhibit at a local museum on or nearby the water trail may also be part of the experience. A website integrating the interpretive guides and an interactive Geographic Information System (GIS) will allow users to plan and select paddling routes, to access information on amenities on and near the rivers, learn about the rivers and watersheds, and to participate in river and coastline monitoring programs.
Phone: (269) 686-9088
The Kalamazoo River Heritage Water Trail will be the first such designated water trail in Michigan that will encompass an entire watershed. The completed project will include water trail maps and guides that will introduce watershed visitors to the history and ecological significance of the Kalamazoo River and its major tributaries. There will also be signs posted along the river pinpointing the heritage sites that will be included in the guidebooks. In Allegan County, the Heritage Water Trail will include the Kalamazoo River main stream from Plainwell to Saugatuck, as well as the Gun River and the Rabbit River. This project is intended to enhance the tremendous natural resource that is the Kalamazoo River Watershed and will provide the visitor with a truly unique experience.
Because of the immense size of the watershed, and the large number of major tributaries involved, this project will be completed in phases. The first phase of this project will be the Kalamazoo River mainstream from Morrow Pond in Kalamazoo County to Saugatuck in Allegan County. One hundred historic and ecologically significant sites along this river segment have already been identified, sixty of which are located in Allegan County. Work continues on the site write-ups, the river maps, and the signs that will be placed at the various sites along the river. At this time it is anticipated that work on this first phase will be completed in the spring of 2008.