Thomas Park – Mountain Biking Trails – Marion, Iowa

Thomas Park is located in Marion, Iowa at the intersection of Blairs Ferry RD and Marion BLVD. Recreation includes mountain biking, running, dog walking, frisbee golf, several playgrounds, and a splash pad. Parking is free, abundant, and spread across several lots. I parked near the disc golf course. There was a restroom but no water fountains. My cell phone service was strong while in the park.

The My Tracks coordinates in the Google Map above and the elevation chart below were generated by riding from the Legion Park disc golf parking lot to the end of the mountain bike trail system. Riding one-way was a mile long and traversed an elevation range of 725 to 775 feet.

The mountain bike trails are not marked but intuitive to follow. I biked a short distance on the wide Boyson Trail path and found the start of the single track along its right edge.

The single track trail started with a short climb, leveled off, dipped, climbed some more, and repeated this sequence throughout the duration. It includes some naturally fallen trees and one human constructed mound, that I was able to ride over with ease in both directions.

There are several advanced features, all of which are optional. The first was a low lying log ride.

The trail twists its way up and down the side of a hill and crosses an access path several times. It is rarely level or straight and, thus, the continuous change in slope and frequent  turns result in an aerobic exercise. The following is an example of one of the many rounded turns, most of which are on a moderate slope.

All of the trails are bidirectional but the following log ride can only be accessed in the outbound direction. The other elevated log ride was near the start and can only be accessed in the inbound direction.

The lone trail sign was an important one because it denotes a transition from intermediate to expert difficulty.

On my first two passes through the system, I biked (and walked) on the expert trail which included several vertically challenging sections. The easiest of the dips can be seen in the following picture. The other dips were steeper and more intimidating.

The expert trail ends near a field, seen below. On my first ride, I continued up a hill by picking up a trail across the access path and to the left of the larger tree in the following picture.

This extension of trail ended with a pile of branches and a total one-way distance of one mile. It is my understanding that there are plans to extend this segment.

On my second pass, I turned left at the field and followed the access path to the lone trail sign and finished with an inbound ride on the intermediate trails. The total distance of this loop was 1.75 miles.

On my third and fourth passes, I turned around at the expert trail sign for an out and back consisting of only intermediate trails and a distance of 1.25 miles. I had the most fun on these passes because I was able to manage most of the terrain. However, there were two spots that gave me trouble in the inbound direction. The first was two trees, seen below, that provide a narrow space with which to navigate.

The second was a fallen tree at a tough angle and immediately preceded by a tight turn that slowed my momentum enough to force me to dismount.

In sum, Thomas Park’s one mile of single track is packed with fun and challenging features. Its uneven terrain results in a surprisingly robust aerobic exercise. In addition, it includes a disc golf course, splash pad, access to the Boyson Trail, and a large playground. Check out Beverly Park and Sugar Bottom for more mountain biking in the area.

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