Summerset Trail is a beautiful 12-mile rail-trail stretching from Carlisle to Indianola. The great thing is, this beautiful route is only a few minutes south of Des Moines!
The trail is perfect for spotting wildlife and the diversity of Iowa landscapes. It crosses through wetlands, woodlands, and prairie. And you won’t want to miss the scenic lakes along the way.
About Summerset Trail
Starting at Carlisle, the trail extends south through wetlands and prairie. And about 5 miles down the path, it reaches Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park. Bike lanes along the park loop are great for exploring the scenic old coal mining area.
From there, the trail turns south, crossing the Middle River near the tiny town of Summerset. Gentle hills pass through woods and prairie before coming into Indianola. The trail ends in Indianola at the McVay Summerset Trailhead.
Know Before You Go!
- There are gravel and paved road crossings along this route.
- The trail passes through the Banner Flats Wildlife area, a marshy area north of Banner Lakes Park. Check out the observation tower right on the path! In the summer you can see lots of wildflowers.
- Banner Lakes is a great place to explore. Bike lanes make it easy for pedestrians to navigate the park loop. And the dirt trails are popular among hikers and mountain bikers.
- Be aware the Banner Lakes Shooting Range is near the trail. If it’s open when you pass through, you’ll hear gunfire.
- The Indianola Trailhead is a block east of several restaurants (Dairy Queen, Arby’s, and Subway, to name a few).
- Check out Warren County Conservation’s Trail Map.
Summerset Trail Map
Summerset Trail Trailhead, 100 Summerset Trail, Carlisle, IA 50047. This trailhead has a gravel parking area with shaded picnic benches, a pit latrine, and bike tools.
Banner Lakes at Summerset Park, 13084 Elk Horn St, Carlisle, IA 50047. Access to the trail is on the east side of the loop. There’s parking along the loop and near the entrance to the park. Bike lanes along the park road make it easy to get to the trail (and explore the park). Pit latrines are on site.
McVay Summerset Trailhead, 501 N 5th St, Indianola, IA 50125. This trailhead has 10+ paved parking spots, shade, modern restrooms, and water.
Carlisle Nature Trail. This 3-mile trail links to Summerset Trail at the Carlisle Aquatic Center (1230 S 5th St). A good access point is at Scotch Ridge Nature Park, near 2720 Gateway Dr, Carlisle, IA 50047. From there, you’ll pass over the North River, through woodlands, and then residential areas of Carlisle.
McVay Trail, Indianola. This trail connects at the Indianola Trailhead. There it continues east for 1.6 miles to Pickard Park. It provides access to the Indianola High School and residential areas.
Summerset Trail Facts
- Location: Carlisle to Indianola
- Distance: 12 miles
- Surface: Asphalt
- Difficulty: Easy
- Description: From Carlisle, extends south through Banner Flats Wildlife Area to Indianola.
- Trailheads: Carlisle Trailhead, Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park, McVay Summerset Trailhead
- Connectors: Carlisle City Trails, Indianola City Trails (McVay Trail)