On Friday, the city of South Bend dedicated the new 1.2-mile extension of the Northside Trail for walkers, bicyclists, wheelchair riders and other rolling folks.
I took a spin on the new connector trail with my bike on a blustery night this week. It reminded me that a good trail system changes character, always surprising the senses. This one does.
At the western end, the new trail picks up from the trail along Northside Boulevard by Indiana University South Bend and crosses Ironwood Drive in front of the Oaken Bucket.
The separated, paved trail cruises in front of homes for three more blocks on Pleasant Street -- a detour from always having the river in view -- then turns right along 26th Street, where the street dead-ends after a block but the trail continues on, curving and descending through a wooded nook until it meets the riverbank again. A stone wall here, built in a federal program in the Depression, has been restored.
New lamps arc over the part on the riverbank and keep it lit at night, while sculptures made by a neighbor enlighten the mind.
Car traffic next to the trail on the newly rebuilt Northside Boulevard is much quieter than it was in the past. Along with the new dead-end at 26th, Northside also stops now a few feet shy of Logan Street at the Mishawaka border.
There's a new feature that I've never seen before: stop signs made for trail users at the street crossings. You can see the stop sign while on the trail, but motorists on parallel streets cannot, thanks to a grid-like fixture on the front of the signs that obscures the view from the side.
If you cross Logan to reach the Mishawaka Riverwalk, press the button to trigger the flashing yellow lights. Cars here may not expect you even though large letters on the street warn "BIKE X-ING."
Let me know what you think of the new trail. How does it compare with other parts of the river paths?
Indiana's Department of Natural Resources has changed some of its rules for the treasure-hunt sport of geocaching.
So, pay attention if you've got trinkets and a logbook stashed in a small container on state land where people can seek them out with a GPS unit -- or if you plan to set out one of these caches.
The DNR says the changes will open more of its properties to geocaching and allow more caches at properties where it's permitted. They set new rules to protect sensitive natural areas, too.
And the DNR plans to eliminate the thousands of unlicensed caches on its properties. But caches that don't use a container, trinkets or logbook, which aren't subject to licensing, won't be removed unless they violate any of the new policy limits.
On Monday, the website Geocaching.com "will archive and temporarily remove all listings for container-style caches on DNR properties, licensed and unlicensed," a DNR press release says. "Cache owners will then have 30 days to apply for a license. If the license is approved, the cache listing will be republished on Geocaching.com; otherwise, the cache will be permanently removed from the website."
Licensing details are at geocaching.dnr.IN.gov.
Meanwhile, learn more about geocaching and bring chili to share and eat from 1 to 5 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's County Park on Laurel Road in South Bend. Bring a GPS unit if you have one. Cost is $5. Register by Tuesday at 574-277-4828.
What do you think of the new rules? Can you offer tips for novices? I'll gladly share.
Reach Joseph Dits at www.facebook.com/tribune.josephdits, email@example.com or 574-235-6158.