Al Sabo Preserve in Kalamazoo is simply amazing and, in my humble opinion, deserves some kind of trophy, if not a classy ribbon. The boys and I checked it out just a few weeks ago. Since then, we’ve been back there 3 times, finding something new on each adventure. It’s a sprawling labyrinth of every shade of green, made up of rolling fields, deep piny woods, and bogs where the mud is as deep as a 5 year old’s height (according to the scientist-approved stick test).
It all starts with a typical trailhead — sign, map, rusty gate. The first quarter mile is covered by a splendid canopy of trees. The sound of traffic fades as you work your way into the preserve. To our right, a little trail jutted out and led to a field that was so nice, I was sure we were trespassing. At the center of the field, an unofficial “playground” with a homemade swing, well worn bench, and makeshift firepit. We’ve left the corporate safety of the municipal park system — we are now in a crowdsourced outdoor recreation facility.
We ended up in this field quite a bit as we wandered. It’s very Eden-esque. What is it about nature that draws us in? Hmm…
From there, you’ve got all kinds of trails covering hilly terrain, surrounded by some pretty thick woods. It’s times like these that I wish OFF! spray didn’t make me smell like OFF! spray. Nature.
We’ll certainly go back again many times. According to wikipedia, this preserve is over 740 acres (741, actually). The trails are ubiquitous and ready to be discovered.
Click here for a map.
I highly recommend, with only a few cautions:
1) Watch out for bikes. They just show up all the sudden. This is perfectly fine, since the trail is for bikes, too. The blind corners and sudden elevation changes means that one must pay attention.
2) Watch out for flying insects. They, too, just show up all the sudden.
3) The bog (if you can find it) is both mysterious and deadly. Remember that scene in Never Ending Story, with the horse and the mud and… well… just be careful.