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Five Island Trail Is A Fit Place For All Recreation

By Staff | Aug 18, 2009

Emmetsburg has always taken pride in the beautiful Five Island Lake. Over the past years dredging the lake, building the beach house and adding public docks have all increased the public access to this wonderful asset in our community. Now, after six years of planning, a new lakeside park and three miles of trail will add to the recreation and beauty of the lake.

Six years ago, a group of residents began looking into the possibility of a bike and walking trail for Emmetsburg. They were inspired by the fact that a trail for Emmetsburg was one of the number one items residents chose for the community during the Storm community meetings. Also, in communities that have a trail, it is seen as a safe place for residents to enjoy recreational activities, a boost for economic development, and a favorable asset for those looking to relocate to a community.

The committee looked at several options for the trail. Many communities used old abandoned railroad tracks to provide space for a trail. Emmetsburg has many railroad tracks but all of them are currently used. A trail along the Des Moines River was discussed but access to land adjacent to the river could not be obtained. And after attending many grant meeting to find money for building the trail, it was discovered that you not only needed matching funds to apply for grants but state funds required that you already had a trail in progress.

The possibility of a trail along Five Island Lake began to take shape when Mr. and Mrs. Robert Osterhaus, a private land owner donated a wonderful piece of land along the lake with the intent of it being a destination for the trail. Duhigg Park is located two miles north of the spillway dam on the east shore of Five Island Lake. The area was donated to the trails committee and the county conservation developed it into a beautiful park with public docks and parking, two shelter houses with picnic tables, public bathrooms, grated grills for cooking and benches overlooking the lake. This piece of land was now the matching funds needed to get a trail started. If a trail was developed to start at the trestle south of Lakeshore Drive, Duhigg Park could also provided a destination point for a trail.

Landowners whose property would be adjacent to the proposed trail were contacted many times by the committee and a trail plan began taking shape. Over the last several months, all landowners along the trail have agreed to let the committee use the right a way for the trail development. Also Emmetsburg City Council and the County board of Supervisors both unanimously approved the right of way for a trail. In 2008, the Palo Alto County Gaming Development Corporation gave funds for trail development. Now a trail for Emmetsburg was in the works!

The new Five Island Trail will be built from the trestle south of Lake Shore Drive to Sewell Park. It will continue along the lake crossing a bridge by the dam. At the public docks north of the dam, the trail will cross county road N48, and continue in the county right of way until the next gravel road where it will cross back to the lake side. The trail will then continue to Duhigg Park.

The trail will be a 10 ft wide concrete trail, open from dawn to dusk, for the enjoyment of residents who would like to walk, jog, bike or rollerblade. It could even be used in the winter to snow shoe or cross country ski. The trail will be maintained by the Palo Alto County Conservation once it is built.

The Five Island Trails (F.I.T.) committee is now in the process of raising funds to complete the trail. A kick-off event for the public is planned for Sunday, Aug. 30, beginning at 12 noon at Duhigg Park to celebrate the beginning of the trail development, to give a presentation of the work that are in progress, and to recognize large donations which have already occurred. A meal will be served from 12 noon to 1 p.m. with a presentation following. Donations for the trails may be sent to F.I.T., P.O. Box 166, Emmetsburg, IA 50536.