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The Three Rivers Trail runs for nearly 40 miles from the small community of Rolfe—named after the early English settler who married Pocahontas—to just west of Eagle Grove. The mostly rural trail is named appropriately for the three rivers it crosses, including the West Fork and East Fork of the Des Moines River and the west branch of the Boone River, and is ideal for those seeking peace and solitude.
Starting in Rolfe at the small trailhead and parking area, you’ll head southeast on a flat route with little to no grade. For those wishing to bike, the town of Rolfe offers a bike-share program; look for the bike station at the J.B. Wilcox Shelter and Picnic Area at the trailhead. During the first 16.5 miles to Humboldt, you’ll head over the West Fork Des Moines River and through prairie and farmland, crossing many railroad trestles along the way. Just before the trail crosses Pilot Creek Road, look for a sizable historical marker denoting the site of a battle between the Winnebago and Sioux Indians in 1854 to control the area’s abundant resources. Here, you’ll also find a parking lot, a pit toilet, and a picnic shelter.
Be sure you stock up on water and snacks for your journey, as there are no food amenities or public water fountains along this stretch.
After Jerry Hatcher Road in Humboldt, you can curve left onto a separate, 6-mile spur trail that extends north to open farmland (note that there’s no outlet at the spur’s end) or south to Frank A. Gotch State Park, a 67-acre campsite, and the confluence of the East and West Forks of the Des Moines River. Back on the main trail in Humboldt, the trail continues southeast to Dakota City and passes the Humboldt County Historical Museum—a complex of historical buildings reflecting early life in the county—located at the southern end of the Dakota City Memorial Park & Campground. Most prominent is the 13-room mill farmhouse built in 1879. You’ll then cross the East Fork Des Moines River before continuing to more rural settings once again.
The trail continues through trees and farmland, crosses over the last of its namesakes, the Boone River, and ends abruptly about 1.5 miles west of the small town of Eagle Grove, at Calhoun Avenue. There are no amenities at this end of the trail, and trail users who wish to enter town must take local roads.
To reach the western trailhead in Rolfe from US 169 heading north, turn left onto 270th St., and go 11 miles. Continue onto 570th St. for 5 miles, and then turn right onto 290th Ave. Go 10.1 miles, and turn right onto 470th St. After 1 mile, turn left onto 300th Ave. Go 0.3 mile, and look for the small trailhead on the right (just before the road curves left and becomes Railroad St.).
To reach parking south of Humboldt from Fort Dodge on US 169 heading north, turn right onto 120th St.; go 2 miles, and turn left onto National Ave. After 2 miles, continue onto 100th St./280th St. for 0.2 mile, and then continue onto Lone Tree Road for 3.5 miles. Turn left into the parking area where the trail intersects the road.
To reach parking at the eastern endpoint from Webster City on IA 17, take IA 17 N for 13.5 miles. Turn left onto W. Broadway St., go 0.9 mile, and continue onto 270th St. Turn right onto Calhoun Ave. After 1.3 miles, look for a small parking area to your left, where the trail begins.
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