When complete, the Rolling Prairie Tri-County Trail System will connect several communities and two state parks as it travels through quintessential northeastern Iowa prairie. Following an 80-mile east-west route, it will traverse the counties of Franklin, Butler, Bremer, and Fayette.
The railroad on which the trail is built was originally begun in 1871 by the Iowa-Pacific Railroad Company. Over the years, the line changed hands and was last owned by Union Pacific Railroad.
In Franklin County, a 9-mile section runs between Coulter, the trail's western terminus, and Hampton. It ends only a block north of Hampton's Progress Park, which provides numerous recreational amenities, such as an aquatic center, skate park, playground, and tennis, basketball, and volleyball courts.
In Butler County, a paved 6-mile segment extends from Allison to Clarksville, where the trail provides access to the Heery Woods State Park, which offers fishing, boating, camping, and picnicking, as well as a nature center. In Clarksville, you can seamlessly continue your journey on the 5.5-mile Shell Rock River Trail
, also known as the Butler County Nature Trail. The trail heads east and then south to reach the city of Shell Rock.
East of Shell Rock, another section picks up in Waverly. The 7-mile Waverly Rail Trail
links directly to the 6-mile Readlyn Grump Trail
, for a continuous 13-mile ride. Along the way, you can also take a short 2-mile spur on the Denver-Jefferson Trail
to visit the city of Denver, affectionately called the Mile Wide City.
In the future, the trail will continue further east to end in Oelwein.
In Clarksville access the Rolling Prairie Trail at Heery Woods State Park (N. side: 19195 Highway 188; S. side: 27887 195th Street). You can also access the trail at the intersection of West Jefferson and South Ely streets or from Volunteer City Park.
In Allison, access the trail from Wilder Park on Highway 3 (southwest of town). The trail entrance is at the back (northeast) section of the park.
In Hampton, parking is available in Progress Park (600 1st Street NW).