How to Drive The Northern Iowa River Greenbelt

A portion of the Greenbelt map.

As the snow melts and spring comes, thinking of going for a drive? There are land and roads in every direction.

There are also glacially-formed lakes, one-room schoolhouses, wildlife areas, historic cemeteries, and sustainable farming practicing on display.  The Northern River Greenbelt Association maintains markers that guide drivers on a scenic trip around Wright and Franklin Counties, to help you better understand the area and its natural and human history.

“The scenic drive is to get people out to see the countryside, to see the beauty of it,” said Larry Turner, Chair of the Greenbelt Association. “We spent a lot of time putting it together. There’s a lot to see. “

The group produced a map in the late 90s that shows waterways, historical sites, and green areas throughout the area, from north of Belmond south through Alden. The map is available for free in several locations in Wright County, including the Monitor’s offices, Eagle Grove and Dows Chambers of Commerce, and the Dows Welcome Center.

The map also includes an insert that discusses the land features and historical sites in more detail, as well as symbols on signage that identify sustainable agriculture practices in the fields, including grassed waterways, contour farming, and windbreaks. Turner said representatives from the group drive the route yearly to ensure signage is maintained.

Highlights in the Clarion area taken from the group’s information (slightly edited) include:

Morse Lake

Formerly called Twin Sisters Lakes, this lake is typical of the many glacial lakes found in the area at the time of white settlement. The lake is surrounded on several sides by glacial wetlands which serve as filters for the lake and provide wildlife habitat.

Lake Cornelia

Lake Cornelia is another glacial lake left by the Des Moines lobe of the Wisconsin glacier approximately 12,000 years ago. The lake had a historic depth of 6-8 foot at the time of a white settlement but was dredged in the late 1940’s and now some areas have 14-18 foot of water.  Dredge fill was deposited on the north end of the lake filling in the lake’s natural wetlands. A county recreation area is now built on the dredge fill site.

For more, pick up a copy of the map and/or see the April 3 issue of the Monitor!