Ice Age Trail
sidebar content

Ice Age Trail map

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a thousand-mile footpath - entirely within Wisconsin - that highlights Ice Age landscape features while providing access to some of the state's most beautiful natural areas.

The trail is a work in progress. The blue sections have been completed. I hiked in both the Kettle Moraine area and closer to home, near Cumberland, this fall.

Information on the trail is available at the website of the Ice Age Trail Alliance

 

  • Benches at my starting point
  • Ice Age Trail sign at starting point
  • On my way
  • One mile into my hike, great trail
  • Two miles into my hike and they already have a bench for me. They must know my age!
  • Neat
  • I must be on a picnic
  • Map of the 31-mile Ice Age Trail through Kettle Moraine
  • I could have left my water filter at home
  • Scenery
  • One of, I believe, three shelters in this section
  • Outhouse at the previous shelter
  • Even I can follow these directions!
  • Scenery
  • My first kettle (do not know the name of it)
  • Nice field walk
  • My backpack in for ground of steps leading away from Lake Butler
  • Sign - the trail is well signed with information about the geology and history of this area
  • Sign
  • Sign
  • Sign
  • Butler Lake is a true kettle (just like the name says: a low place where the water collects)
  • Crooked Lake Kettle
  • I found a friend (wish I could take this friend with me. Hope it found its way home.)
  • Deer scrape at the start of my northern section near Cumberland, WI
  • My starting point outside Cumberland, WI on a snowmobile trail. This is the last 40+ miles, which ends north of St. Croix Falls
  • Nice wide snowmobile trail through a great hardwoods forest
  • Hunting camp in the middle of the hardwoods
  • Short road walk
  • Little ugly here
  • Back on snowmobile trail again, which ended up being the trail for most of this section
 

Ice Age logo on post

 

My original plan was to hike the Superior Trail this fall, but for a variety of reasons I could not make it work. Hopefully next spring I can fit it in.

As you may or may not know, I had the inside half of my right knee replaced in 2006 and really have not tested it to see if it could stand up to long-distance hiking of 25 - 30 mile days. I have plans for another thru-hike of the Pacific Crest Trail Hike in 2012 (I originally hiked it in 2002). The Superior Trail would have been the perfect place to test my knee. I would be close to home in case I had trouble and had to leave the trail.

So, unable to make the Superior Trail work, I settled for 3 and half days of hiking the Ice Age Trail. I hiked two different parts of the trail. First, the 30-plus mile section in the Kettle Moraine area in the southwestern part of Wisconsin. This is a beautifully groomed part of the trail as you can see by my pictures. From what I can tell, this is probably the best section of the trail and I recommend it to anyone. It could be done in a day, or stretched out comfortably over 3 days. I got there late on a Friday, hiked until dark and finished the following day.

After finishing this section I decided to go north and hike the last 30-plus miles of the trail from outside Cumberland, Wisconsin to its end along the Mississippi River north of St. Croix Falls, WI.

This section of the trail was really a snowmobile / ATV trail that was not well marked as I found out in a hurry. About two miles into my hike this snowmobile trail forked in two different directions. Here the correct way to go was marked with a yellow blaze mark and Ice Age Trail marker. No problem, until in a mile I came upon a three-way intersection with no yellow blaze markings or Ice Age markers. Of course I did not have an Ice Age Trail map, so I had two choices. I could turn around and go back or I could make a good guess as to which way to go. Really the only choice was the guess, for I hate retracing my steps!

So I made a choice and spent the rest of this overcast / rainy afternoon walking in circles on a maze of snowmobile trails! But as Hoff luck would have it, just before dark I happened upon a yellow Ice Age Marker! All is well once again.

It rained most of that night and was pouring the next morning when I started out. I really must be getting old for usually I enjoy such a miserable test, but this morning I was thinking, maybe I've tested my knee enough! I had cell service and was thinking of calling my cousin Gary Hoff who lived in the area to come and get me, but there was one problem, I was not sure where I was! So I continued on. Again, as Hoff luck would have it, I ran into a soaked bowhunter who also had enough. After few laughs about each other's "common sense" he was nice enough to get me back to my car and this drowned rat headed home.

Good news is my knee held up better than I thought. So, I look forward to giving it an even better test next spring with the hope of hiking the Superior Trail. If all goes well, sights will be on the Pacific Crest Trail in 2012! Although, sitting in my Lazy Boy Chair next to the fireplace feels real good right now!