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Where to run, walk and hike in South Bend

I grew up in Madison, Wisconsin, where the UW-Madison campus is seamlessly integrated into the city.

Local families and students alike stroll the same State Street, hike in the same arboretum and frequent the same restaurants and cafes without a second thought. So imagine my surprise when I came to Notre Dame and saw how completely divorced its students are from the rest of the South Bend community!

I’m now a senior, and I’ve realized I often feel more at home in South Bend than I do on campus. And as a marathoner, I feel most at home while running outdoors.

If you’re eager to get outside and explore South Bend, here are (from experience) three of the best trails to check out.

East Bank Trail

The East Bank Trail is great for a long, out-and-back run or bike ride. Tri-campus students can easily access it at the trail entrance on W. Angela Boulevard near Holy Cross College.

Much of the trail runs along the St. Joseph River and takes you past Howard Park, the Notre Dame Rowing facility, the farmer’s market and IU-South Bend.

If you’re down for an even longer run or ride (I use this part for my marathon training), you can take the trail to S. 26th Street and then turn right onto Mishawaka’s Northside Trail.

The Northside Trail offers gorgeous views of the river and Mishawaka’s beautiful parks and suspension bridges (my civil engineer boyfriend loves those). There are also plenty of drinking fountains in case you need a pick-me-up after traversing double-digit miles.

Riverside ‘West Bank’ Trail

Known as “West Bank” among the Notre Dame Running Club, the formal name for this trail is the Riverside Trail. (I just learned this while doing research for this column.)

The trail is about 3.5 miles long, providing another great option for out-and-back journeys, but it also provides easy access to the East Bank and LaSalle trails if you’d rather run/ride/hike a loop.

You can access the trail by turning right down the hill on W. Angela Boulevard and then turning right on Riverside Drive at the roundabout.

The trail runs right along the river and provides beautiful sunrise views. It also takes you through a residential neighborhood and past the newly-revitalized Pinhook Park.

At least three drinking fountains can be found along the trail, and bathrooms are available in Pinhook Park.

LaSalle Trail

Have you ever wanted to run/ride/hike across state lines? The LaSalle Trail makes a trip to Michigan easy.

You enter the trail by turning left on Dublin Road, just past Douglas Road and the Inn at Saint Mary’s.

Numerous restaurants, including Culver’s, McDonald’s, Dunkin’ and Subway, are available right off the trail between Cleveland and Darden roads.

The LaSalle Trail proper extends 3.5 miles to the state line and connects to the Indiana-Michigan River Valley Trail once you reach Michigan. (You won’t even notice you’re on a new trail.)

The River Valley Trail extends an additional 3-or-so miles to the Pulaski Highway. There, you can then take S. Third Street north to Fort Street and hop back on the River Valley Trail, which takes you into the heart of Niles, Michigan.

Despite completing an 18-mile out-and-back run on the LaSalle/River Valley trail, I’ve never traversed the entire thing, so if you’re looking for a long bike ride (or maybe training for an ultramarathon?), the trail provides plenty of ground to cover.

You can contact Claire at creid6@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this Inside Column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.