Spotlight: Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Meander through Wisconsin’s glacier-carved landscape
What You’ll Find
During the Ice Age 15,000 year ago, a massive glacier extended over North America. Today, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail traces the edge of this once impressive glacier across Wisconsin. One of eleven National Scenic Trails across the country, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (NST) covers nearly 1,200 miles accessing the rolling hills, river valleys, lakes and ridges sculpted by the glacier. Primarily a hiking trail, visitors can choose between a quick stroll on a nearby neighborhood segment or plan a thru-hike, backpacking and exploring the forests and prairies of Wisconsin.
Spanning the state of Wisconsin, the trail’s western end is located in Interstate State Park on the St. Croix River in Polk County. The eastern end is located in Potawatomi State Park on Green Bay in Door County.
Opportunities to backpack and camp along the Ice Age NST are plentiful but require some research and thoughtful planning as some segments of the trail pass through private property. To plan an overnighter, invest in the Ice Age Trail Atlas and Guide books to find camping locations at or near the trail.
Or, opt to put your feet up as you stay in one of the local inns along the trail. Visit the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s website for a complete listing of inns, B&Bs and cottages.
Make Sure You
Get outside and enjoy National Trails Day on June 7 — a day designed to promote and celebrate the importance of trails in the United States. Join one of the many fun trail events along the Ice Age NST.
Follow along the Eau Claire River (French for “clear water”) and the Dells of the Eau Claire to experience a gorge carved from the thawing of ice which in turn sent a rush of melt-water through a fault in the bedrock — leaving the mylonite rock bluffs we see today. Part of the Eau Claire Dells segment in Marathon County, this segment boasts some of the oldest exposed bedrock along the Ice Age NST – dating back 1.8 billion years.
When hiking the Ice Age NST, be on the lookout for the yellow trail markers. These yellow blazes are the most common trail signage and are often painted or plastic rectangles. Although the official trail logo and marker is a sign featuring a wooly mammoth (designating a section of the trail certified by the National Park Service), hikers should be aware there are many trail markers along the entire route.
Visit the Ice Age National Scenic Trail website for a general overview of the trail and its history. Delve deeper into your planning with a visit to the Ice Age Trail Alliance website, a member- and volunteer-based organization whose mission is to create, support and protect the Ice Age NST.