(See video of the groundbreaking ceremony at the end of this page)

MASON CITY — The groundbreaking took place this morning on Mason City’s Destination Iowa bike park project. The Prairie Rock Trails Bike Park will be located on the southern edge of Lime Creek Nature Center and will link the 450-acre conservation area to Mason City’s new High Line Trail, the Riverwalk near Southbridge Mall and 20 miles of existing trails.

City Administrator Aaron Burnett says a grassroots effort from a local organization turned into a state-funded project with help from a $4.5 million Destination Iowa grant.   “The North Iowa Human Power Trails group always led the effort of expanding the bike amenities within Mason City for mountain biking, single-track trails. This bike park, they are just a great group to work with that had the vision. They understand where they wanted to go and they communicated that to the city and we’re just happy to be able to partner with them to lead that vision become to fruition.”

Burnett says the bike park is specifically designed for off-road and mountain biking activities with features for all ages. The closest example of a facility like this is in Arkansas.  “A bike park is really a place where you can work on your skills, everything from a little kid just getting on a bike for the first year of their life and riding it around and going over some small bumps, all the way up to expert jumplines where you have a little more danger, but you are also getting air and experiencing that, working on your jumps, going over features, all sorts of things like that. It’s really a place that’s meant for all skill levels, all age groups to come and enjoy using their bike and really challenge them in a way they are comfortable and able to build skills.”

Burnett says the bike park is the main feature of the city’s Destination Iowa grant, which includes the build-out of a trail system in the area.  “We’re building many miles of single-track trails here. We’ve got the bike park that we’re celebrating today with the groundbreaking, but we’ve already completed the High Line Trail. The Riverwalk has been bid, and that will start construction this year. Just so many elements of outdoor recreation being furthered inside Mason City and in the region. Just an exciting time to be able to work on all these things.”

Alaina Santizo of the Iowa Economic Development Authority says Mason City’s application was part of a very competitive process in choosing award recipients for Destination Iowa grants.  “The county, city and these groups that really coalesced around one plan brought forward, but also the uniqueness of all. This is the first of its kind in our state and even in the Midwest, so it’s really exciting. During those COVID years, we really saw people just really craving those outdoor recreational opportunities and that’s just remained. The COVID days are past us now, but people still love doing some of that outdoor recreation, and the state’s really leaning in on that and investing in it because people love it, and we’re hoping that it will continue to grow.”

Santizo praises the local efforts of Mason City and Clear Lake in recently receiving Destination Iowa grants for projects. This project fits into the program’s outdoor recreation awards, while the Clear Lake Surf District project received funding from the “placemaking” portion of the program. “The projects that both of those communities brought forward were extremely competitive, and so they scored well in our process, and we were pleased to be partners on both of those projects.”

The bike park is scheduled to be completed in the summer of 2025.