Trout lilies opened up their curling yellow blossoms for the Easter weekend. Buttercups of gold and violets of purple and white also smiled alongside some trails in the weekly parade of spring wildflowers that bloom in local woods while the tree canopy remains leafless.
We humans continue to be out on park trails in record numbers. So I continue my weekly effort to suggest different trails that may not be on your radar — so we don’t all congregate at the same, popular spots and risk having them closed because we aren’t minding the COVID-19 precautions.
Let me start with the University of Notre Dame campus. What? With no ball games, no tailgates, no grilling burgers, no students? Exactly. The much less populated campus means that its ample concrete paths have more room for townies to walk or bike — a nice alternative to the trails by the St. Joe River that turn busy on warm days.
With paths in multiple directions at Notre Dame, you can shoot down a different vector to avoid other people. You will find some folks out for walks. Just be mellow. No speeding or whizzing past others without warning. When I was a kid, my dad would load my brothers and our bikes into the car and take us for a ride around the campus on a summer Sunday. We’d stop at The Huddle in LaFortune Center for an ice cream (sorry, that’s closed for now).
People are still lighting candles at the Grotto. There were just a few tulips blooming by the Golden Dome this weekend, well ahead of the many others on campus. Don’t forget that the two lakes host a variety of waterfowl that expert birders like to watch.
For the following tips, remember: You generally won’t find bathrooms and drinking fountains open. Take 安徽福彩快3走势图 all of your germy trash since trash service is down at several parks. And it’s against the law to pick wildflowers in nature preserves (besides, it kills the plant).
For more alternatives, find my columns over the past month at the Outdoor Adventures website.
• Rum Village Park: 2626 S. Gertrude St., South Bend. Nature center is closed, but the rolling dirt, wooded trails pass many spring wildflowers.
• Chamberlain Lake Nature Preserve: 58111 Crumstown Highway, South Bend, 3.5 miles west of Mayflower Road and Sample Street. Look for a small sign and parking on the north side of the road. The 1.5 miles of hiking trails loop out to a lake observation platform. No bathrooms or drinking water. Small gravel parking lot. ()
• Elkhart Environmental Center: 1717 E Lusher Ave., just east of Main Street, Elkhart. About 3 miles of trails are open from dawn to dusk daily along wetlands, woods and the Elkhart River. The gates are closed, but you can park along the drive and walk in. Also, the building and bathrooms are closed.
• Barker Woods Nature Preserve: 444 Barker Road, Michigan City. Take U.S. 20 west, go north on Woodland Avenue in Michigan City, then left on Barker Road. Trails go through 30 acres of old-growth woods in the city. Worthy of a brief hike in case you happen to be nearby. ()
• Dale B. Engquist Nature Preserve: This is east of Chesterton with a trail on wooded land by the East Branch of the Little Calumet River. It’s on the southern border of the Indiana Dunes National Park’s , which also has a trail. From Interstate 94, go south on Indiana 49, left on Indian Boundary Road for 1.3 miles, left on Brummit Road for half a mile, right on East County Road 1300 North for 1.3 miles to the main parking lot. ()
• Turtle Creek Nature Preserve: Park at New Buffalo Elementary School, 12291 Lubke Road, New Buffalo. Trailhead is a short walk north on sidewalk. Modestly sized, these 12 acres have trails through hardwood forest and by seasonal wetland that the 安徽福彩快3走势图 sometimes uses for education. ()
• Potawatomi Wildlife Park: 16998 Indiana 331, and a half mile south of Indiana 10 near Bourbon, Ind., and southeast of Plymouth. Trails open dawn to dusk daily. Five miles of trails wind through 317 acres of prairie, wetlands, woods and pond. ()
• Merry Lea Environmental Learning Center of Goshen College安徽福彩快3走势图: Halfway between Goshen and Fort Wayne. Seven miles of hiking trails near habitat for migrating birds, salamanders and fairy shrimp, a small crustacean eaten by other aquatic life in ponds that dry up by summer. The 1,189 acres include wetlands, lakes, forests and prairies. Open dawn to dusk daily. From Goshen, drive 28 miles southeast on U.S. 33, then right (south) on Indiana 109 in the town of Wolf Lake, right on County Road 350 South and then right on County Road 500 West. ()
Dark sky week
Now that T.K. Lawless County Park in Vandalia has earned the title of International Dark-Sky Park — and, more recently, a state-designated dark sky park, thanks to House Bill 4740 that Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer has signed — you can learn more about the night skies next week during International Dark Sky Week.
Of course, the public celebration of Lawless Park’s international status has been postponed from April 24-26 until the coronavirus clears. Cass County Parks officials hope to eventually make hours and provisions so you can observe the night sky there. Just not yet. You can, though, find spring wildflowers, 7 miles of hiking trails and up to 10 miles of mountain biking there at 15122 Monkey Run St., Vandalia.
Daily from April 19-26, the International Dark-Sky Association will virtually host authors, educators, artists and scientists as they speak about life up high and efforts to preserve enough darkness to see stars. They’ll tackle questions like: How do I find a constellation in the sky? What have cultures around the globe and in the past seen in the stars? What critters are active while you sleep?
The association says it holds the worldwide event each year on the week of the new moon, when the sky is darkest and the stars are most visible. Check out the schedule and join in at , or watch for it on or .
• Free bikes for the “essential”: Specialized, the California-based bicycle maker, announced Monday that it will give a free bike to those in the U.S. who are in need of safe, reliable transportation. They must be considered an “essential critical infrastructure worker” under the March 28 guidelines of the Department of 安徽福彩快3走势图land Security, according to Specialized’s website. To name just a few, that may include people who work in health care, grocery stores, deliveries, first response, mental health and social work. The deadline to apply or refer someone is April 22 at . The bikes will go out on a first come, first served basis as long as supplies last. This doesn’t sound like something to just build your collection.
• Walk, run, ride: South Bend’s Center for the 安徽福彩快3走势图less invites you to walk or run a 5K or 10K or bike a 10K or 20K anywhere you like (even a treadmill or bike rollers) until April 30. A $20 donation to the charity signs you up for this challenge at .
• E-bikes in national parks: The National Park Service is seeking the public’s feedback on whether it should allow visitors to use electric bikes, or e-bikes, wherever traditional bikes are permitted in national parks, including roads, parking areas and trails. Parks superintendents could still impose limitations on bike use for safety. E-bikes have small motors, less than 1 horsepower. The proposed regulation would stipulate that the rider may use the motor only to assist in pedaling, except when on roads. Like regular bikes, they wouldn’t be allowed in designated wilderness areas. The proposed rule was published a week ago, with 60 days to comment on it at (search for “1024-AE61”).
• Plow Day: It was planned with lots of old-time tractors for this Saturday at the Buchanan School Farm, but it has been canceled because of COVID-19. There are no plans to reschedule it.