Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Clear Lake-Clayton trail passes lakes, farms

Clear Lake-Clayton Trail near Magnor Lake.
Clear Lake-Clayton Trail map

Old rail bed turned into 11-mile walking path in two counties

Eleven miles of old rail bed have been converted into a walking path running between the two Polk County villages of Clear Lake and Clayton, the trail’s namesakes. The Wisconsin trail passes several lakes as it nears Clayton.

A good segment of the Clear Lake-Clayton Trail to hike during summer is a 3-mile round trip west of Clayton from County Road P to 65th Avenue.

Magnor Lake
Park at the public boat landing for Magnor Lake on U.S. Hwy. 63 west of Clayton. Magnor Lake covers 229 acres and at 26 feet deep is a popular spot for catching panfish, largemouth bass, Northern pike and walleye. The lake’s water clarity is low, though.

To reach the trailhead, you’ll have to cross Hwy. 63 as the trail is on the south/east of that road. Exercise caution as crossing and watch for traffic turning off of County Road P onto Hwy. 63.

The fairly flat and wide trail parallels Hwy. 63, but a good mix of hardwood trees and bushes line both sides of the path, keeping out the views of passing traffic and offering moderate shade. The trail is popular among ATVs, but there’s plenty of room for both three-wheelers and walkers.

Heading south from Magnor Lake, you’ll enter farm country with fields visible through the tree breaks on both sides of the trail.

Barbo and Paulson lakes
At night quite half-way to your turn-back point, you’ll catch sight of pass Barbo Lake, also on your right. Though a shallow lake at only four-feet deep, it covers 43.5 acres.

From there, the trail curves southward. Near the turnback point, you’ll likely spot Paulson Lake between the trees on the right. At 25 acres and 12 feet deep, the lake sports panfish, largemouth bass and Northern pike.

Upon reaching 65th Avenue, you’ve gone 1.5 miles. This marks a good spot to head back.

Read more about family friendly day hiking trails in my Headin' to the Cabin guidebooks.