What is the Ice Age Trail?
The Ice Age Trail is one of America’s 11 National Scenic Trails. Located entirely in Wisconsin, the route of the Trail generally follows the edges of the last continental glacier in North America, a time known as the Wisconsin glaciation. As a result, the footpath, which is an excellent opportunity for hiking and backpacking, highlights and preserves some of the finest glacial features on earth, as well as other scenic and natural resources.
What are glacial features?
Glacial features are the geologic evidence left behind when glaciers retreat. They include kames, eskers, kettles, drumlins, moraines, and more. Study of these features provide important clues about where glaciers existed and how they changed the landscape.
Where is the Ice Age Trail?
The Trail stretches approximately 1,200 miles from Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River in Polk County in northwestern Wisconsin, down as far as Janesville in Rock County in southern Wisconsin, and then up to Potawatomi State Park on Green Bay in Door County. The Trail’s route goes through much of northern, central, and eastern Wisconsin passing diverse landscapes and habitats. It is one of only three National Scenic Trails contained entirely within a single state, the others being the Arizona and Florida National Scenic Trails.
How much of the trail is complete?
More nearly 700 miles of the Ice Age Trail is currently blazed and open for public use. The Trail is made up of more than 100 segments, which vary in length from just over 1 mile to nearly 15 miles. The blazed, completed segments are joined together by connector routes (typically rural roads and highways) which make it possible to hike the entire 1,200-mile path.
Are detailed maps available?
Yes, a variety of detailed maps are available from the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the nonprofit, volunteer organization that conserves, creates, maintains, and promotes the Trail. They maintain an interactive Hiker Resource Map as well as offer a printed Atlas and Guidebook.
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, and cross country skiing. 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 information about outsoor activities and hunting is available here and here.
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.
Last updated: August 31, 2022