MASON CITY — A ribbon-cutting ceremony took place this morning for the south end of the High Line Trail from 1st Street Southeast to 19th Street Southeast in Mason City as part of the city’s Destination Iowa/Bike North Iowa bike park project. The High Line Trail is on an old Union Pacific railroad line, and when fully completed, the trail will stretch from the city’s south side to north side and connect all the city’s trails together.
Lindsey James of Visit Mason City says the city’s trail system has a positive impact on the community. “We know that people are seeking opportunities to hike, bike and paddle. I don’t think people typically think of Mason City as a destination to do those things, but obviously the investments the city and the county have made recently is changing that. It’s been transformational for our community.”
James says visitor spending has a significant impact on the community and things like this new trail will help bring people here. “2022 numbers will be coming in a couple of weeks, but we know it’s over $100 million in Cerro Gordo County that visitors spend every year. The lion’s share of that is here in Mason City, and this is just going to help that grow.”
When the pandemic hit in 2020 and tourist attractions were closed, many people turned to the outdoors, and James says that was the case with trails like this in Mason City. “We had people reaching out wondering what was there to do outside, requesting trail maps, and wanting to explore our outdoor spaces. Quickly, we became familiar with, everyone knows Lime Creek Nature Center, but became familiar with the arboretum, and MacNider Woods, and Parker Woods. My son and I started going and exploring all the great outdoor spaces that we have and seeing them kind of from a visitor perspective, really appreciating what we have, not taking it for granted. We’ve always said, if residents love it, visitors will too.”
The High Line Trail is part of the $4.5 million Destination Iowa Grant from the state and federal government.