Register Now For The 2016 Annual Conference and Membership Meeting

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Featured hike at Plover River. Photo by Dave Caliebe

Each April Ice Age Trail enthusiast gather for the Alliance’s Annual Conference and Membership Meeting. This serves as a time for camaraderie, educational presentations, entertaining guest speakers and exploring some of the best segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Please join us for an inspiring event!

Online registration is now open for the April 7-10 Annual Membership Conference at Stoney Creek Hotel in Rothschild, WI.

Thursday features an all-day adventure that includes a guided hike by  geologists Dave Mickleson and Lisa Siewert on the Backpacker Magazine featured Plover River Segment, box lunch and guided tour of the Leigh Yawkey Woodson Art Museum in Wausau. Local docent, Gail Piotrwoski will be sharing highlights of the museum with Annual Conference goers.

Friday’s featured speaker is Steven Gonzalez, Exectuive Director for the El Camino Real de los Tejas National Historic Trail Association. Please join Steven as he shares what makes the El Camino Real de los Tejas a national treasure. He will also highlight the ways the National Historic and Scenic Trail communities work in tandem to preserve the American story.

Saturday’s featured guest speaker Jay Erskine Leutze, Trustee and Acquisition Specialist for the Southern Appalachian Highlands Conservancy and author of Stand Up that Mountain: The Battle to Save One Small Community in the Wilderness Along the Appalachian Trail. Jay will share the story of how one small community came together to protect a critical piece of the Appalachian Trail.

For a complete list of all the hikes, program activities and awards ceremonies, check out Annual Conference News [PDF download] from Mammoth Tales.




Let’s Rendezvous!

photo by Tim Malzhan

photo by Tim Malzhan

As the calendar shuffles along toward spring and shadows get shorter our thoughts of trailbuilding are gaining momentum. Soon it will be time to slap new laces on steel toes, pick up a fresh pair of gloves and file a clean edge on the pick mattock. In a few short months we’ll be back in morning roundup and our tools of the craft will have a nice patina of duff and sawdust. Until these warm thoughts come to fruition, we’re planning on helping you scratch that trailbuilding itch with the Winter Rendezvous!


photo by Dave Caliebe

Just like the French voyageurs of the past, hearty souls will gather at UWSP – Treehaven in Tomahawk from February 5 – 7 to share stories of winter adventures, enjoy the landscape and rekindle fires. Please join us and catch up with old friends or make new, and find out what is in store for the 2016 Mobile Skills Crew season. There will be plenty of frivolity mixed in with x’s and o’s. No previous trailbuilding experience is necessary as all are welcome. You can register and see a full agenda here.

We look forward to seeing you at the Winter Rendezvous or on the Trail in the near future. Until then, we hope your thoughts of creating new Ice Age Trail experiences break up cabin fever and help you gain a spring in your step.

Alliance Accepting Scholarship Applications

For decades Wisconsin citizens have rallied around the Ice Age Trail, from when the idea of a thousand-mile footpath was freshly born to when the first tread was built. The future of the Trail will rely on future generations to carry on vision. The Ice Age Trail Alliance is making a down-payment on the future with the Doug “Stickman” Sherman scholarship.A photo of Doug "Stickman" Sherman

The scholarship is awarded to a college-bound young adult who has volunteered with the Alliance, in honor of the work of Doug “Stickman” Sherman, a longtime Alliance volunteer who passed away in 2014. Over a number of years, Stickman hand-carved hundreds of hiking sticks for students taking part in Saunters, the Alliance’s school program that brings kids onto the Ice Age Trail.

For weeks on end, students carried Doug’s creations all across Wisconsin – along the shores of the Wisconsin River, on towering bluffs overlooking Devil’s Lake, through the deepest northwoods forests, around the crags of Eau Claire Dells and across vast prairies.

The sticks provided balance, confidence and a helping hand. In essence, Stickman was with young hikers every step of the way as they explored the Ice Age Trail and took on a steady calm that only the solace of nature can provide. We are happy to carry on Mr. Sherman’s positive impact to tomorrow’s Trail supporters through this scholarship.

                                                  How to Apply

photo by Leah Bradley

photo by Leah Bradley

The Doug “Stickman” Sherman Scholarship is a one-time $500 award and is open to young adults who are preparing to go to college. In order to qualify, applicants must have:

• A history of volunteering with the Ice Age Trail Alliance and/or serving as a Saunters mentor
• A love of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and a desire to create, support and protect the Trail for future generations
• Future goals that include a degree in the environmental or education fields or a related field

Interested students should reference the application form [PDF] for complete instructions on how to apply. All submissions must be postmarked by March 1, 2016.

New Feature Rich Trail Map Launched

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There is no surprise that most people visiting the Ice Age Trail Alliance website do so to see where the Trail leads. Whether they are first timers or IAT veterans the map page is a huge draw. So when it came time to upgrade the site we turned to the online map. Thanks to financial support from Travel Wisconsin , we have added new clickable layers. The first, Trail Stories, is a place for IAT users to share their adventures with one another. This serves as a good place for seeing what is going on in the trail community at your favorite (or soon to be favorite) segment. Another layer, Trail Conditions, is a clearinghouse for all Ice Age Trail Alliance certified trail conditions. This layer includes both positive and not so positive conditions and is a good place to look before hitting the trail. Finally, be sure to look at the Itinerary layer for 18 prebuilt adventures. Itineraries fall into three categories: Avid Hiker for the backpacking sort, Family Friendly for when the kids are along and Day Hiker for just about anyone!

Each layer is designed to help you enjoy the Ice Age Trail even more than before. So please take a look, post a Trail Story, be part of the conversation and let us know what you think.

Travel Wisconsin

Congress Passes Permanent Extension of the IRA Charitable Rollover

As of last week, both the U.S. House of Representatives and the U.S. Senate have passed a permanent extension of the IRA charitable rollover, and President Obama has signed the bill into law.

This provision, which had expired at the end of 2014, will now be effective retroactive to January 1, 2015. Unlike prior years, the provision is no longer scheduled to expire. Donors age 70½ and older may transfer up to $100,000 from their IRA to a qualified public charity. The transfer will be made free of federal income tax and the gift qualifies for the donor’s 2015 required minimum distribution (RMD) for the year. Many people have been waiting for passage of this law before acting on 2015 IRA distributions. If you wish to direct an IRA distribution to charity, contact your custodian soon, as it can take some time for these distributions to be processed.

To make an IRA rollover gift to the Ice Age Trail Alliance contact your custodian and request that an amount be transferred directly to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Your gift can be cash or stock in any amount up to $100,000.

If you are gifting cash, direct your custodian to make your gift to:
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Inc.
PO Box 128 Cross Plains, WI 53528
Federal Tax ID # 39 – 6076028

If you are gifting stock, direct your custodian to transfer your stock to our account at:
Robert W. Baird & Co
c/o Dan Gundrum, 414-765-1465
IATA Account # 4464-2597
DTC # 0547

When you make an IRA gift to the IATA, please email or call us and let us know.

We’ll need your name, address, and phone number so we can properly thank you when your gift arrives:
[email protected]
608-798-4453 x-22

Raise your voice…support land acquisition funding


Your help is needed to protect future segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Recently, Ice Age Trail supporters successfully advocated for the Wisconsin state legislature to continue Stewardship Program funding for the Ice Age Trail.

Today, we ask you to do the same for federal funding.

The Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF) has recently expired. For the past 50 years, LWCF funds — collected from off-shore oil and gas royalties — have protected land in every state, supporting more than 41,000 state and local park projects. Closer to home, LWCF funds have helped protect more than 50 Ice Age Trail properties, including portions of the popular Devil’s Lake and St. Croix Falls segments.

LWCF must be permanently reauthorized and fully funded before the end of the current legislative session, which means it must be included in the FY 2016 Appropriations package.

Our request is simple: Please ask your representative to urge House Speaker Paul Ryan to include LWCF re-authorization in the FY 2016 Omnibus Appropriations Bill.

Thank you for your support of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Village of Hartland Becomes First Ice Age Trail Community

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The Ice Age Trail is projected to pass through 137 – 146 communities as it courses through Wisconsin, connecting people and places along the way. Building strong relationships is critical to the long term success of the Alliance and expansion of the Trail. To meet this need the Alliance has created the Ice Age Trail Community program.

This past fall the Village of Hartland, in Waukesha County, completed the application and assessment process to become the first official Ice Age Trail Community. The Hartland Business Improvement District (BID) and Village administration joined hands to submit an application that set a very high standard for future communities to meet. They took a look at existing infrastructure and amenities through the eyes of a hiker. Plans are underway to enhance the presence of the Ice Age Trail as it passes through downtown, raising awareness of the national treasure found within the community.

Visitors to Hartland will immediately see the impact this program has had on the community. Whether the trip takes them to the Lake Country Fine Arts School where they can see the Ice Age Trail themed mural or stop at Señor Tomás Restaurant along the banks of the Bark River, trail users will know they are in a community that supports the Ice Age Trail Alliance. The next time you are looking for a place to hike take a look at Hartland and support the communities that support the Ice Age Trail. Don’t forget to tell the business you patronize you are there to hike the Trail!


Hunting Season and Hiking the Ice Age Trail

There can be a lot of details to navigate when you hike the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin’s fall and winter seasons: hunting season dates, trail closures on private property, and public lands where the Trail is open and hunting is also allowed.

Visit our Hiking During Hunting Seasons page to get a full breakdown of all the things to consider. Here are the main things you’ll want to remember:

  • WEAR BLAZE ORANGE or other bright colors. This applies to you and your pet. We consider October through April as Blaze Orange Season on the Trail.
  • THE TRAIL CLOSES IN SOME AREAS WHERE IT CROSSES PRIVATE PROPERTY. The Trail Conditions page has information on sections that close, but it may not have all of them. Many of our volunteer chapter coordinators know the parts of the Trail that close in their region; contact the coordinator in the area you want to hike to find out about Trail closures. Sections that close should also have on-the-ground signage announcing the details of the closure.
  • THE 9-DAY GUN DEER SEASON is from November 21-29 this year. This is the most popular season and the time you’re most likely to see your hiking options limited.

2015 Regional Rallies – Register now!

Each fall the Ice Age Trail Alliance hosts Regional Rallies to bring together volunteers from across the land for planning, training and camaraderie. These events are excellent opportunities to learn what it takes to create a world class hiking trail and get involved locally. This year’s theme is Joining Forces for Maximum Impact. Participants will hear the latest updates from the Alliance, discuss the creation and execution of exemplary trail events, and begin planning regional outings. Lunch will be provided.

  1. Saturday, October 31 – Polk County (Register Here)
  2. Saturday, November 7 –  Walworth County (Register Here)
  3. Sunday, November 8 – Portage County (Register Here)