One of my favorite parks to go to whenever I’m in the Michigan area is Fort Custer State Park. I have spent several sunny warm days hiking and riding the mountain bike trails through this state park. The state park features not only a modern campground with full facilities, it has three mountain bike trails that are 4 to 8 miles long and an equestrian trail and 1 multi-use trail that takes you around Whitford and Lawler lakes.
One of my goals, when I started mountain biking, was to be able to successfully navigate the Green trail from start to finish without ever getting off my bike. This trail is not the most rugged at the park, the Red trail is the most rugged and strenuous, but the Green trail was enough for me. So far, I haven’t made the entire trip without getting off of my bike, but I get better each time I do it and have enjoyed the biking thoroughly!
Fort Custer Recreation Area comprises 3,033 acres located between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo. The terrain is typical of southern Michigan farm country, with second growth forests and remnant areas of prairie. Prairie restoration is in progress with excellent results. The area features three lakes, the Kalamazoo River, and an excellent trail system. Originally farmland, the area was acquired by the federal government to establish Camp Custer, an induction and military training center for the US Army during WWII. The land was deeded to the State of Michigan under President Nixon’s Legacy of Parks in 1971.
Wander over to the western side of the park and either go hiking, biking or ride your horse if you have one, you will be pleasantly surprised to find several old farm buildings foundations. There is also an old silo or two that is still mostly intact but has been unused for more than a 100 years. The ‘roads’ that survive part in the interior of the park are also very old and their concrete is broken but you can see what it must’ve been like to drive through this area back before the Federal government took over this land in 1917. A segment of the North Country National Scenic Trail is located just north of the park
Fort Custer State Park is in Kalamazoo County Michigan, about 10 miles west of Battle Creek or 15 miles east of Kalamazoo via M 96. You can also get to it fairly easily off of I 94 if you follow the signs to Fort Custer Recreational Area.
The modern campground contains 219 sites with electrical service. Most sites are separated from each other. The campground has one play structure and two swing sets, as well as access to the blue trail. Modern restrooms are available mid-April through mid-October. The park also has two rustic cabins available to rent. Each cabin has lakeside access so that you could walk out your door and go fishing if you want. There is also one multi-use group area suitable for up to 60 people for large group camping. Canoe, kayak and rowboat rentals are available at the beach house located on Eagle Lake.
Based on https://freecampsites.net/#!Augusta,+MI,+USA there are three free campsites within 31 miles of Augusta Michigan.
—-Hiking & Biking & Horseback Riding—-
There are three main Mountain bike/hiking trails; The Red Trail, 8.6 miles long, the Green Trail, 7.0 miles long, and the Blue trail, 4.0 miles long. There is also an extensive equestrian trail system which is also open to hiking, which covers a lot of similar terrains as well as some completely different parts of the park, which has a very different character than the mountain bike trails and is well worth exploring. All of these trails are fair game for running as well as the network of old roads, so Fort Custer can keep one busy for quite a while! The bike trails at Fort Custer are already tied to a city parks bike trail that extends thru Battle Creek and is in the process of being tied to the city parks bike trail in Kalamazoo, and that will stretch all the way to Lake Michigan!
—-Things to Do—-
During your trip to Fort Custer Recreation Area, you might want to visit several other attractions within a short drive. Fort Custer National Cemetery just outside the recreation area’s northern boundary is home to more than 30 veterans memorials and an Avenue of Flags. The Barn Theatre a five-minute drive west of the recreation area, is one of the nation’s oldest resident summer stock theaters, having put on seasonal performances for more than 60 years out of an abandoned dairy barn. Other attractions within 12 miles include the W.K. Kellogg Bird Sanctuary and the Gilmore Car Museum a collection of approximately 300 vintage cars and motorcycles.
All of these pictures are from http://www.michigandnr.com/parksandtrails/Details.aspx?id=448&type=SPRK or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fort_Custer_Recreation_Area or from my teams own cameras.