family on a paddle board

Float Your Boat

Just outside of town, you’ll find a couple of perfectly peaceful places to paddle. North of Indianola is Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park. Bring your own canoes, kayaks or paddleboards. Aside from the two sizable Banner Lakes, there’s a collection of small, quaint ponds scattered throughout the park. The calm, quiet surroundings are great for a relaxing afternoon on the water.

Lake Ahquabi is a115-acre lake just southwest of Indianola. There’s a long list of ways to wander the water at Ahquabi. Head to the onsite concessionaire, where you can rent solo and tandem kayaks, fishing kayaks, paddleboats, rowboats, paddleboards and canoes. (You can bring your own non-motorized vessel too.) If you’re up for an adventure for the whole crew, try the Raptor, a multi-person stand-up paddleboat for up to eight friends! Take a peaceful paddle and enjoy this serene natural setting. Or get a good workout in! You can even take some paddling lessons!

Cast your line

Bait that hook for some of the best fishing around! Discover the sweet spots for largemouth bass, catfish, panfish, trout and more.

Lake Ahquabi State Park is a top fishing spot, with several locations to park your fishing pole. Fish the shoreline for largemouth bass, channel catfish or panfish. Or take your gear to the accessible fishing pier. The lake has 13 fishing jetties too. There’s a cleaning station for your catch.

A great place to catch the big one is Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park. Find a spot on the shore or you can fish from your boat on either the north or south lake. You’ll find bluegill, catfish, largemouth bass, crappie and trout. South lake is freshly stocked with trout during cooler months. And it’s no fish story, you can catch a trout weighing up to 10 lbs.!

Other quiet spots for bass, bluegill and catfish include: Lester Pond at Annett Nature Center and Park, Grant Park, Hickory Hills, Bank Swallow Bend and Otter Creek.

fishing in lake

Tasty Tip #456: If you just can’t wait to cook up your catch, head to Groggy Dog pub on the north side of Indianola’s town square for some crispy fish and chips. And take your pick from 16 rotating craft beer selections.

Spin your wheels

Indianola offers exciting trails to trek! Follow former rail lines across the countryside. Brake for a pit stop at an old coal mine-turned-park. Get acquainted with wildlife in the area. Wheel your way to a great day!

Bike the paved 12-mile Summerset Trail from Indianola to Carlisle — an abandoned rail line, winding up and down through beautiful woodlands and wetlands. At the halfway point, add a quick lap around Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park, a two-mile paved lakeside loop nestled in nature. You’ll find restrooms at the park too.

Ready to kick up some dirt? Once an old coal mine, Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park now features six different mountain bike trails designed for three different levels of ability and experience. Expect tight singletrack through the tailings of the old mine — challenging climbs and rapid descents! And the trail names are the best, like Coal Miner’s Daughter, Corner Pocket and Extra Credit.

mountain biker going down hill
Great Western Trail Bike Path

Looking for a longer ride? Pedal the prairie through Warren and Polk counties on the 19-mile Great Western Trail, named for the Chicago Great Western Company whose trains operated on this line from 1892 to 1968. Get a glimpse at some of the area’s wildlife, remaining wetlands and natural prairie grasses.

Explore the natural terrain of Lake Ahquabi State Park. Just you and the treelined trail! More than six miles of it, to be exact. There are plenty of places to picnic and refuel along the way. Our advice? Take your earbuds out and listen to countless bird songs!

Tasty Tip #67: After you’ve tackled the trails, it’s time for a slice of legendary Pete’s Pizza and a big frosty mug of your favorite beer. People travel miles for a piece of this pie! And fun fact, some of Pete’s specialty pizzas bear the names of the locals who created them!

Hit the trail

Indianola is the place to get your steps in. Raise your heart rate on one of our more challenging trails. Or just take a slow stroll to quiet the noise of the day.

Chart your course from the trailhead of our three main hard surface trails. The trailhead is the perfect place to prep. There are restrooms and a vending machine with drinks to whet your whistle (restrooms and vending not available in the winter months.)

From the trailhead: Take the McVay Trail east for a two-mile trek to Pickard Park. Pack a snack in your pack and enjoy some shade at Pickard. Or head north on Summerset Trail for a lengthier hike. Summerset Trail takes you nearly 12 miles through gorgeous woods and wetlands to Carlisle. Find a pit bathroom halfway at Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park. While there, do a two-mile lap around Banner Lakes. Once the site of an old coal mine, Banner Lakes at Summerset State Park is a trophy case for nature and wildlife! If you want to get a good city snapshot, go west from the trailhead on Jerry Kelley Trail.  Follow this sidewalk trail past Buxton Park to Memorial Park (1 mile) and continue west to Wilder Elementary (1.5 miles). Jerry Kelley Trail is a combo of off-street walkways and shared bike paths. Enjoy Buxton park’s beautiful blooms along the way!

Banner Lakes at Summerset Park path
annett nature center walking path

Up for a real wilderness adventure? It all starts at Annett Nature Center. Follow the primary trail down into the forest, through the wetlands, across a rugged wood bridge to the wildlife viewing platform where you can see for miles! Annett Nature Center also offers a host of hikes for explorers of all ages, like Storywalks® where families can find nature-themed children’s books along the trail to read while you hike. Ever heard of geocaching? In this hike/treasure hunt, you’ll grab your phone and use coordinates to search for 25 hidden containers!

Make the most of mowed grass trails at Pickard Park, where there are options for a one-mile hike on Terrace Trail or two-mile trip on the Pond & Prairie Trail. DeNelsky Park’s half-mile loop is a nice, quick trip through the wilderness.

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