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Opened in 2016, the Carlisle Nature Trail is a beautiful way to experience the natural beauty of the small Iowa community of Carlisle, located about a dozen miles southeast of Des Moines. Running through gorgeous woodland and prairies in the Scotch Ridge Nature Park, the trail allows you to experience firsthand the ecological history of the area, from the impact of moving glaciers during the last ice age to the thriving plants and wildlife supported by the North River. The paved trail runs north to south through the natural space, offering a pleasant walk or ride with intermittent shade - the trail also conveniently runs right past the local middle school, giving students a great option for walking or biking to school.
In the south, the trail connects to the longer Summerset Trail, a rail-trail that provides a straight shot down to the community of Indianola. Local parks near the trail junction provide even more opportunities for fun and recreation, with a host of athletic fields and play areas. A great little gem of a trail, the Carlisle Nature Trail is a fantastic asset for the charming small town.
Parking is available at the north end of the trail off of County Line Road, just south of Highway 5. Additional parking is available at the south end in Lindhardt Park, on Lindhardt Park Road off of S 5th Street.
This trail doesn't show up on Garmin devices or Google Maps. I did a ride through Carlisle a week ago, and would have loved to get through town via a scenic meadow trail rather than fighting traffic on hwy 5. Somebody get this trail onto GPS service providers' maps! I look forward to using the trail next time!
We are beginning bikers and older. Loved the wide paved path. Put in north of Carlisle and ride was great as was the view. Then we hit the HILL. Oh my. Benches on the way up and I can see why. We could ride up and took all we had to walk up. We turned around and what a ride down. whheeeee’. Won’t be doing this one sgsin
Great hilly trail. Connects to the Summerset Trail to add additional miles.
Best linear park in the world. Starting at the People's Bank trailhead, you
experience restored prairie marshland on your left and restored prairie potholes on your right with riparian woodland in the background. At about 1,500' you cross the North River and ascend a 10% grade with upland woodland on your left and cropland on your right. At the peak of the grade you descend to a 3-acre pond and then ascend via a hairpin trail through an oak savanna. You cross under Scotch Ridge Road and then traverse a conservation subdivision and two city parks before you connect to the Summerset Trail.
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