Trolley Trail (Clear Lake/Mason City)


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Trolley Trail (Clear Lake/Mason City) Facts

States: Iowa
Counties: Cerro Gordo
Length: 7.5 miles
Trail end points: Ray Rorick Skate Park north of 15th St. SW and east of S. Pierce Ave. (Mason City) and Main Ave. west of N. 35th St. (Clear Lake)
Trail surfaces: Asphalt
Trail category: Rail-Trail
ID: 6435676
Trail activities: Bike, Inline Skating, Wheelchair Accessible, Walking, Cross Country Skiing

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Trolley Trail (Clear Lake/Mason City) Description

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.

Parking and Trail Access

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.

Trolley Trail (Clear Lake/Mason City) Reviews

Took the trail from Newman High School to Clear Lake and back. The trail condition is good. The trail runs along a busy highway. It is relatively flat and an easy ride. The trail does continue around the lake but much of it is on the road around Clear Lake that is marked ""shared road" but does not have a dedicated bike lane. Lots of bike friendly signs but no safety markings on the road. Lake view is often blocked by houses. Streets are busy.

My husband and I have ridden this trail a couple of times. We usually camp at Clear Lake and ride the trail around the lake. We have ridden over to Mason City once but once in Mason City it is hard to follow where the trail goes to because it is on city streets. The trail around the lake is very nice and the city of Clear Lake is a seasonal vacation town with lots of summer houses on the shore.

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