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The best place to begin the Trolley Trail is in Mason City in Ray Rorick Skate Park, located adjacent to the 81-acre Lester Milligan Park, which has two fishing and swimming ponds, hiking and biking trails, a playground, water, and restrooms, as well as a railroad that weaves into town. On the other side of the skate park’s ample parking lot is an entrance for the Trolley Trail—which is part of the small trail network that circles the park.
Heading north and then west on the Trolley Trail, you will be surrounded by—and will then head over—a cluster of small ponds; note the clear water of the largest of the ponds, named Big Blue, which is suitable for swimming and fishing. There is a small parking area and dock on the pond, as well as a tiny beach area.
As you travel west, you’ll follow along railroad tracks briefly before turning left (south) onto South Benjamin Avenue; this road takes you to where the formally labeled “Trolley Trail” begins—to your right—just above 19th Street Southwest.
The trail jogs along an industrial park with warehouses and manufacturing facilities, passes a high school, and then jumps to the other side of the road at South Taft Avenue.
As you travel farther away from the center of Mason City, the surroundings get slightly more rural. You’ll notice cornfields on either side, as well as an old trolley line running on the opposite side of the road.
Approaching the western endpoint in Clear Lake, the trolley tracks veer right (north) toward the Iowa Trolley Park, where a small museum is open to the public on weekends (10 a.m.–4 p.m. from Memorial Day to Labor Day). You’ll continue on the trail along the road (now Fourth Avenue South) for about a half block, after which the trail cuts right and heads north into an open, grassy area to the trolley park (on your right), ending at Main Avenue. The trolley park makes for an interesting endpoint for rail-line history enthusiasts.
To reach the eastern trailhead at Ray Rorick Skate Park from I-35, take Exit 190 for US 18 E/ SR 27 E toward Mason City. Continue onto SR 27 S/US 18 E for 3.6 miles, and take Exit 183 toward Mallard Ave. Turn left onto Mallard Ave., go 1.5 miles, and continue on S. Eisenhower Ave. for 0.5 mile. Turn right onto 19th St. SW/255th St., and go 2 miles. Turn left onto S. Pierce Ave., go 0.2 mile, and turn right onto 15th St. SW. After 0.2 mile, turn left into the park before you reach the railroad tracks. Look for a large parking lot ahead and to the right, inside the park.
There is no dedicated parking lot at the western end of the trail.
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