I rode a portion of this trail picking it up from an entrance off Bob Shetler Recreation Area campground.
Part of an expansive trail network in the Greater Des Moines region, the 26-mile Neal Smith Trail rolls along the banks of the Des Moines River through the Ding Darling Greenway conservation area and makes its way through a variety of landscapes, including riverbanks, wildflower meadows, lakeshores, and dense forests. Plenty of benches offer ample opportunities for trail users to rest and enjoy the deer, rabbits, butterflies, and other critters active along the route.--TraiLink.com
We stayed at Bob Shetler Campground while exploring Des Moines, Iowa.
Kal-Haven Trail provided one of the best rail-trail rides I'd had in some time. It didn't hurt Fall colors were nearing their peak in the area. The only qualification I have about riding Kal-Haven is since the surface is crushed stone, dry conditions are preferable. I still haven't pried the smile off my face. What a fantastic ride through the Michigan countryside.
The trail follows the rail bed laid down in 1870 for the Kalamazoo & South Haven Railroad, which was almost immediately purchased by the Michigan Central Railroad. The New York Central Railroad took over the line in 1950 and ran trains on it until a 1968 merger to create the Penn Central led to the line becoming disused in 1970.
Opened in 1991, the trail is one of the oldest conversions in Michigan. Old depots serve as trailside visitor centers in Bloomingdale and South Haven, and an old red caboose offers trailhead services on the outskirts of Kalamazoo. The majority of the route is crushed slag and limestone and slopes gently down toward the lake; note that while the trail can accommodate road bikes, the crushed stone may prove challenging in a few sections.--TraiLink.com
Sometimes you land in a very cool spot, but due to circumstances beyond any control you may believe you have, things don't go as planned. We arrived at Wild Cherry Resort on a Friday and, as I was setting up and leveling Miranda, a problem with the leveling system occurred. Three days later, we were able to resolve the leveler problem well enough for travel to the manufacturer 250 miles away, but during the interim, we were stuck. Stuck in rainy and cooler weather for the most part too.
The folks at Wild Cherry were more than accommodating. The park is very well kept and I'm certain, given better circumstances our stay with them would have been much better. Next time, eh?
We booked Straits State Park Campground because we intended to visit Mackinac Island on our way out of the UP of Michigan. Best laid plans are sometimes stymied by inclement weather conditions, in this case rainy days, and so we spent our time at Straits State Park mostly in Miranda, Melanie working, me catching up on photo processing. Regardless, Straits campground is nearly perfect for a visit to Mackinac Island. It's a well-kept park with sites well spaced, and views of the Makinac Bridge. They have a great shower and bath house that's relatively new in each loop. Our site, and many others in the lower loops of the campground, was level. Recommended.
We left Munising, Michigan and, as we traveled over toward a stay in St. Ignace, we took a detour to see Taquamenon Falls in Taquamenon Falls State Park. For leaf peeping purposes, we could not have timed our visit much better. I've included a few snaps from traveling through Paradise, Michigan and beyond on Michigan Highway 123.
We've been traveling in the UP of Michigan for over a week and, when we were camped just outside of Munising, Michigan, we did something we rarely do during the pandemic, we took a cruise and saw Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore from a boat on the waters of Lake Superior.
Buffalo River State Park and campground is our first Minnesota State Park. Nicely maintained by the State of Minnesota, The Nature Conservancy and Minnesota State University, the park features hiking trails, swimming, picnic area and the Minnesota State University Moorhead Regional Science Center.
We spent a few days camped outside the South Unit of Theodore Roosevelt National Park. During that time we visited both the North and South Units and the Painted Canyon Visitor Center. The North and South Units are 68 miles apart.
"Hell with the fires out."-- Brigadier General Alfred Sully, 1864
We've spent almost six days close to Rocky Mountain National Park. There are wildfires to our north and to our southwest. It's like being in the Smokey Mountains on a grander scale and with real smoke. It was what it was.
We're located about a mile away from the Grand Lake entrance. At this time to get into the park after 6:00 a.m. requires you make a reservation. We were up at 5:00 a.m., made coffee and passed the entrance at 5:45 a.m.
The photos are our driving tour on Trail Ridge Road (Hwy 34), Highway 36, Bear Lake Road, a short distance on Old Fall River Road, an afternoon bicycle ride on Trail Ridge Road, and our current campground.
Steven and Melanie