Off Onto the Summerset Trail


Overview

  • Summerset is a National Recreational Trail traveling 12 miles from Indianola to Carlisle.  It is also a recognized destination by Rails To Trails Conservancy.

  • Riders get to experience all types of habitat on this trail.  Beginning in Indianola you travel through industrial areas, then through neighborhoods.  Next it’s the wooded sections through the state park area followed by open prairie and farm fields as you approach Carlisle.  

  • My ride began in Indianola with the plan of riding to Carlisle then back to the state park to rendezvous with my husband and son who would be trout fishing.  It was a beautiful day out on the trail.  Even though it was a spring day the browns of fall and winter remained.

  • The Indianola trailhead is located in the 300 block of N 5th Street.  Parking, restrooms and water are available along with a picnic area.  The trailhead in Carlisle has parking and a shaded spot to rest.

  • At the trail’s halfway mark is Banner Lake State Park.  There you can ride the loop around one of Iowa’s trout lakes.  Along with fishing, hiking and mountain biking are available.  This is a man-made lake that was once a coalmine.

  • Other than the moderate grade running north of Indianola this asphalt trail is a flat ride.  Concrete patches are the evidence of culvert repair was conducted a couple of years ago

  • After turning around at the Carlisle trailhead I rode back to the park and located the guy’s fishing spot.  Then I took a couple of loops around the lake before packing up my bike and gear.

Considerations

  • There are 14 bridges to cross on this trail some with rough thresholds. Lift up off your saddle to avoid the big jolts.  

  • The DNR shooting range is located at Summerset State Park.  Don’t be surprised to hear the sounds of gunfire on your ride.

  • The park has a nice wide bike lane to use for taking a loop around the lake.

  • This is a great trail for adding something different into an Iowa bike riding experience.  With the variety of scenery, winding portions of trail, and a state park to visit, it’s a refreshing change from the straight shot trails often found around the state

Stops

  • Along the trail I pulled over on a bridge crossing a marsh area.  Tons of frogs having woken up from their winter hibernation were singing their hearts out.  It was such a cool sound.  I tried spotting some in the water and grasses, but didn’t have any luck.

  • Northeast of the state park area there is a viewing tower built by an Eagle Scout from Indianola.  I stopped here and climbed to the stop to take in the view and eat a small snack.  

Sightings

  • My love of bicycle riding has fostered an appreciation for bridges. Their design and patina give them an artistic quality.

  • The view of the wetland and farm fields from the tower looked like something from a postcard.   I captured the moment in a short video

  • Along the trail I noticed the remnants of a raptors lunch. I spied a very large nest in the tree line south of the trail and made the deduction that an eagle had eaten carp for dinner not too long ago.

  • A warning of possible farm traffic was just west of Carlisle.  These days not very many farmers drive the types of tractors depicted on the sign.

  • With trout having been released into Banner Lake that morning, the shores were lined with folks hoping to reel one in.

Treats

  • Homemade energy bites were packed in my bag for my mid-ride snack.  

  • Later on I got to enjoy a delicious trout dinner thanks to my husband and son.

Wrap Up

Everyone in my family got to do something they love on this Iowa afternoon.  Next time the guys mention fishing at Banner I’ll be sure to go along too...with my bike.

Happy Riding!