Al Sabo Land Preserve - Owned & Maintained by the City of Kalamazoo
If you have questions or concerns about Al Sabo uses, maintenance, or events, please contact the City of Kalamazoo Public Services Division at 269-337-8215.
The Al Sabo Land Preserve was established in the early 1970s in order to protect the groundwater supply of the Atwater wellfield. The 741 acres were purchased in the late 1960s and a master plan was developed for its use as a passive recreation nature preserve. The City of Kalamazoo passed an ordinance that would ensure its protection as a water resource. The wetlands and sandy soils serve as a recharge area for the area's groundwater.
Presently there are 18 wellheads operating on the property. By preventing the development of the land above the aquifer, the water can be protected from contamination by the products of urban development.
Albert Sabo served as the Director of the City's Utilities Department for 15 years and was employed by the city from 1922 until 1969. It was Sabo's insight that initiated the purchase and preservation of this land. In 1992 the preserve was closed due to excessive erosion. The sport of mountain biking had taken a toll on the trails of Al Sabo. After many Saturdays of volunteer restoration work, the preserve was opened in 1993. As a condition of the preserve's re-opening, bicycles are restricted to approximately seven of the 25 miles of trails.
The habitats here are a diverse mix of woods, wetlands, and open meadows. Here you will find both coniferous tracts of woodlands and mature hardwood forests. The wetlands here serve as the headwaters of the West Fork of Portage Creek. Many of the trails are clearly marked and easy to follow, but there are also many unmarked and unmapped trails. If you choose to travel on these trails, a compass and map are advised. Bicycles are allowed only on the trails marked for bicycles. No bicycles are allowed north of the land bridge. The preserve is open from sunrise to sunset.