Frequently Asked Questions
What is the Ice Age Trail?
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is one of America’s eleven National Scenic Trails. It is predominantly an off-road hiking trail, similar to the Appalachian Trail. The route generally follows the edges of the last continental glacier in North America, a time known as the Wisconsin glaciation. Besides providing an excellent opportunity for hiking, the trail preserves some of the finest features of Wisconsin’s glacial landscape as well as other scenic and natural resources.
What are glacial features?
Glacial features are the geologic evidence left behind when glaciers retreat. Study of these features provide important clues about where glaciers existed and how they changed the landscape. Glacial features include kames, eskers, kettles, drumlins, and moraines.
Where is the Ice Age Trail?
When completed, the trail will stretch over 1,200 miles from Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River in Polk County in northwestern Wisconsin to Potawatomi State Park on Green Bay in Door County. The trail’s route takes it through much of northern, central, and eastern Wisconsin passing through a diversity of landscapes and habitats along the way. It is one of only two National Scenic Trails contained entirely within a single state, the other being the Florida National Scenic Trail.
How much of the trail is complete?
Today approximately 600 miles of the trail in segments varying from 2 to 40 miles are complete and open to the public throughout Wisconsin. These completed segments are joined together by temporary connecting routes, so it is possible to hike the entire 1,200 miles.
Are detailed maps available?
Yes, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources maintains an on-line interactive mapping service where individuals can create and print out detailed maps of the trail. The Ice AgeTrail Alliance has a comprehensive trail atlas available for sale.
What uses are allowed?
The Ice Age Trail is built primarily for hiking, with some segments being suitable for cross country skiing. Portions of the trail that follow state-owned rail/trails are governed by the rules for use of those trails. For example, where the Ice Age NST follows the Sugar River State Trail, the permitted uses are hiking, bicycling, cross country skiing, and snowmobiling. ATV's or other motorized-wheeled vehicles are not permitted on any segment of the Ice Age NST.
Hunting is permitted on the publicly owned portions of the trail in the Chequamegon National Forest, Kettle Moraine State Forest, county forests, and state wildlife areas. Segments of the trail on privately owned land are open to hunting only by permission of the landowner. More....
Is there camping allowed?
Camping facilities, either automobile accessible campgrounds or walk-in campsites, exist along the trail in national, state, and county forests, and in many state and county parks. When planning a visit you should check with the local land management agencies regarding the location and availability of camping and other facilities.
Who builds and maintains the trail?
Construction and maintenance of the trailis a cooperative effort of many public and private agencies. Volunteers have built and continue to maintain much of the nearly 600 miles of trail now open for use. Work crews from publicly sponsored programs, such as the Wisconsin Conservation Corps, the Sprite and Rawhide Boys Ranch programs, and county youth conservation corps have also built many miles of the trail.
Why does the trail logo show a shaggy elephant?
The “shaggy elephant” is actually a mammoth, which is now extinct. Mammoths were the largest animals living in Wisconsin during the Ice Age. Other animals that lived during that time include the sabertooth tiger, cave lion, and giant beaver.
Did You Know?
The oldest exposed bedrock along the Ice Age Trail occurs at the Dells of the Eau Claire in Marathon County and Grandfather Falls in Lincoln County. In both areas bedrock outcrops have been dated at about 1.8 billion years old.