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Fort Custer Recreation Area 011
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.
This recreation area has three lakes as well as the Kalamazoo River, high rolling meadows, soggy wetland, and abundant woods. There are 22 miles of hiking, biking, and horse trails. 219 modern campsites, 2 cabins, and 3 rustic cabins, Activities include Eagle Lake beach, picnic shelters, hunting, fishing, mountain biking and cross country skiing areas. Park hours Monday-Sunday 8am-10pm. Day use admission charge. Enjoy the 18-hole disc golf course within the Park. The par 57 course covers a variety of challenging terrain, and was used as part of the rotation in the world disc golf championship which was held in August in the Kalamazoo-Battle Creek area. The course begins in the day use area near the Hilltop Pavilion, and will be open daily from 8am until the day use area closes, normally around 10pm. A course map is available at the park contact stations. There are no fees to play and no scheduled tee times.
Location – Directions
Fort Custer Recreation Area
5163 Fort Custer Drive
Augusta, MI 49012
Ft. Custer Recreation Area is located north of I-94 between Battle Creek and Kalamazoo at Exits #85 or #92 and go north to M-96. The park is just east of Augusta on M-96.
Points of Interest & Attractions
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.
There exist several water resources that are valuable to the park. The Kalamazoo River provides an undeveloped natural setting along the park's embankment. In the early 1970s, low-head dams were constructed at the outlets of Whitford-Lawler Lake and the Jackson Lake to increase the lake size and provide waterfowl habitat. The Eagle Lake dam was built in 1982 to increase the lake size, which provided both water-based and general recreational opportunities to a growing population in southern Michigan.
The Fort Custer area has cultural significance. Territorial Road was originally an old Indian trail. As pioneers came to Michigan, the trail provided an east/west route. Lawler Cemetery is located next to Territorial Road. Owned by Frank W. Lawler, a local farmer at the time, the cemetery contains tombstones of some of the state's early settlers. Over time, the trail grew into a stage coach route between St. Louis and Detroit. Eventually, the area was farmed by early settlers.
Several homestead foundations still exist within the park. In 1917, Camp Custer was built for military training during World War I. The camp was named after Civil War cavalry officer General George Armstrong Custer. In 1940, Camp Custer was designated Fort Custer and became a permanent military training base for World War II.
Trail usage is a large component of the park. Fort Custer is a popular year-round destination for mountain bike users, equestrians, hikers and dog mushers.