The Summerset Trail is a National Recreational Trail traveling 12 miles from Indianola to Carlisle. It is also a recognized destination by Rails To Trails Conservancy. The asphalt trail provides a variety of scenery. 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.
The Indianola trailhead is located in the 300 block of N 5th Street. Parking, restrooms and water are available along with a picnic area. At the trail’s halfway mark is Banner Lake State Park. There you can ride the loop around one of Iowa’s trout lakes that was formerly a coalmine. The trailhead in Carlisle is along Highway 5, just south of the town's last stop light. It has parking, a shaded spot to rest, and is conveniently located next to an ice cream and sandwich shop.
Wanting to get in a long ride before the spring weather turned chilly and rainy, my brother and I arrived in Indianola and began our ride at the trailhead on N 5th Street with plans to ride to Carlise and back.
Lot of folks, both young and old, were out using the trail and enjoying the sunny day. Singing frogs and chirping birds were the only signs of spring. The trees and grasses still showed brown hues of winter. Sounds of gunfire came from the shooting range inside the park. On the open section approaching Carlisle, cars on the gravel road flanking the trail sent gritty clouds of dust to pedal through.
Reaching town we took a short break at the local Casey's before heading back. Passing through the state park we took a loop around the lake and caught glimpses of riders out enjoying the single track trails.
Bike rides with my brother are a nice change of pace for me. Along with great conversation there's a quicker cadence and faster speeds. He helps me stretch out of my cycling comfort zone. These are rides with the theme of "let's do this!...let's get there!" instead of the usual "tra-la-la...oh look at that!...better stop and take a picture" or "goodness there's bit of an incline....better find an easier gear". Riding with my brother keeps me focused and motivates me to ride stronger. Exactly what I need.
I've ridden the last portion of the trail several times before always avoiding vigorous effort. I would tackle the long grade into Indianola with SLOW speeds, low gears, and sometimes standing out of the saddle. This time was different. I worked to maintain a speed that wasn't an embarrassment, didn't resort to lowest of gears and stayed in the saddle. Towards the end the "slight grade" certainly felt more like a hill. I made it into town sweaty, tired and accomplished. Thanks to my brother I rode the Summerset Trail like I never had before.