The website, which focuses on a 122-mile route and 28 historic sites, features photos, audio files, news clips and information on area attractions – such as restaurants, lodging properties, natural sites, shops and agricultural venues – tied directly to the Tourist Council’s website at www.VisitAlleganCounty.com.
When selecting any of the 28 historic sites from the interactive map, users will be able to bring up a detailed account of that location – along with photos and audio files. Users can also choose additional sites – such as antique shops, art galleries, boat launches, parks and preserves, seasonal activities and many other categories – along the trail.
“I think users will be amazed at how much detail this new site offers when it comes to tailoring a trip along the Heritage Trail,” says Kevin Ricco, Director of County Development. “We’re also happy to see our two sites working together to better market Allegan County as one of West Michigan’s premier travel destinations.”
A project of the Allegan County Tourist Council and its Heritage Preservation Advisory Board, the Allegan County Heritage Trail and the official 38-page guidebook were unveiled in May 2003, followed by a companion CD in the fall of 2004. Both the guidebook and CD feature interviews with county residents, written and oral histories and a collection of photographs – all of which can now be found on the new website.
Brown directional signs can be found along the route to direct travelers on the trail. In 2007, informational panels were erected at the various locations to provide greater detail about the history of the area.
In 2009, the Historical Society of Michigan presented a “Special Programs Award” to Jan Cushman, Tourist Council member and chair of the Heritage Preservation Advisory Board, for her tireless work in spearheading this important project.
The tour is a loop route that runs from Saugatuck east across the farmlands of northern Allegan County and on through the towns of Hopkins, Wayland and Martin, down to Plainwell. From there, the trail heads back along the Kalamazoo River through Otsego and Allegan, then past Lake Allegan and through the Allegan State Game Area. The tour continues past orchards and vineyards to Lake Michigan, and then up the lakefront back to Saugatuck.
This self-guided tour is designed to be driven in a clockwise direction, which provides the best scenic vistas. Figure on taking a full day if you plan to tour the entire route, stopping to view the various sites and enjoy the experiences along the way. Driving non-stop, it would take you about 4-5 hours to travel the route.
The Allegan County Tourist Council was formed in 1982 and serves to market and promote the county’s rich travel, tourism, hospitality, cultural and heritage resources. For more information on Allegan County, call 888-4-ALLEGAN or visit www.VisitAlleganCounty.com.