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)

New Ice Age Trail at Lapham Peak


Thank you to the 226 volunteers who pitched in 4,127.5 hours superbly improving over a mile of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail in one of the most heavily trafficked portions of the entire Trail: Lapham Peak in Waukesha County.

Walking the finished product Sunday afternoon, a hiker exclaimed, “This is awesome…what an amazing change!” Indeed. Together, Ice Age Trail builders, supporters and stewards built 3,500 feet of new tread, 177 feet of rock retaining walls, and 241 feet of boardwalk, and served over 1000 meals. The finished product provides new opportunities for the 350,000 people who visit Lapham Peak annually to take solace and rejuvenate on the Trail.

Save the date: 2016 Annual Conference

The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s upcoming Annual Conference is scheduled for April 7 – 10, 2016 at Stoney Creek Hotel in Rothschild, WI.

This year’s schedule will feature 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.

Additional plans include fantastic hikes on the Plover River and Eau Claire Dells segments, Thousand-Miler presentations, Trail Mix and a few wildcards. Check our website and/or the Spring 2016 issue of Mammoth Tales for registration and updated information.

New Ice Age Trail Databook now available

Pages from Databook2015_2015-0805-2If you’re thinking of hiking the entire Ice Age Trail, either all at once or in bits and pieces, the Ice Age Trail Databook is for you. It includes point-to-point mileage listings for hundreds of access points along the entire Ice Age Trail. The book is intended to be paired with Ice Age Trail Atlas maps.

Special shout-out to volunteers Sharon Dziengel, Gary Hegeman, and Sue Knopf for another top-notch publication.

Check out the Databook in our secure online store.

We hit a bump in the Trail

In case you missed it, the recently passed Wisconsin state budget threatens the Alliance’s work on the Ice Age Trail. The $74,000 capacity grant that we have applied for and received each year for more than 15 years will no longer be available. This grant was a reliable source of support for our efforts, and we are unwilling to lower our commitment to 2,300+ volunteers and 1.25 million trail users.

Consider a few things you can do to keep the Ice Age Trail moving forward and help fill the $74,000 budget gap:

Volunteers take first step toward opening new Rib Lake Segment

Crew members look on as a volunteer places a rock while building new trail.

Volunteers made the first large-scale trailbuilding project of the season a great success! The Rib Lake Mobile Skills Crew project in Taylor County saw 2,000 feet of newly-constructed trail, another mile cleared and ready for construction and 190 feet of new stone retaining wall.

This was the first project in building and opening the 4.7-mile Rib Lake Segment. Volunteers will be back with another MSC event in September to keep the rolling stone moving forward.

Thank you to everyone who attended!

Call for volunteers – upcoming MSC event: Rock County!

The next stop for the MSC program brings us to the Storrs Lake Segment June 24-28, just outside of Milton in Rock County. Join fellow volunteers for a day of being outside, working with your hands and enjoying good company!

The Milton Moraine left behind dry kettles settled by massive white oaks and shagbark hickories, and the event will delve into the heart of this landscape. Work to be done includes a half-mile reroute, boardwalk repair, signage upgrades, a full-blown attack on invasives andprep work to create…drum roll please…a new 1.5-mile section of trail to the north!

Learn more and register here


Thelma Johnson wins National Park Service 2014 Hartzog Award

Volunteer Thelma Johnson takes in the sun at a Mobile Skills Crew Project

Celebrating you, the Ice Age Trail volunteers, at our 2015 Annual Conference, we announced one of our proudest volunteer recognition awards given by the National Park Service. Thelma Johnson of Cumberland, Wis. is the 2014 recipient of the George and Helen Hartzog Award for Enduring Service. Congratulations, Thelma!

Dan Watson, National Park Service Volunteer Coordinator for the Ice Age & North Country National Scenic Trails, submitted the winning nomination for Thelma for the 2014 award.

See a snapshot of Thelma’s dedication to feeding her fellow volunteers through an excerpt from Dan’s nomination:

“Drawing large crowds to fairly remote areas in Wisconsin for back-breaking trail work isn’t easy, yet the Mobile Skills Crew and 12,000 volunteers continue to make the Ice Age National Scenic Trail successful. The food may have something to do with that.

For the past 12 years, Thelma Johnson, now 80 years old and still going strong, has fed an army of volunteers along the 1,200-mile trail. She has donated more than 2,000 hours to serve more than 30,000 meals to hungry volunteers. She commands a crew of cooks to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner for projects that run five days at a time.

Camping alongside the trail crews, she’s the first one up, setting up her mobile kitchen by flashlight at 4:30 a.m. She’s often the last to stop work in the evening, scouring pots as crews rest by the campfire. Finding food for the masses in remote areas may be difficult, but Johnson has kept it flexible and frugal, clipping coupons to keep the budget down.

Johnson’s selflessness and dedication have been noted by fellow volunteers. She is known to have dumped personal contents of her suitcase to fit more food for workers and to have sat in her car to keep her fingers warm in the frigid cold while peeling mountains of onions.”

Thelma’s positive attitude and constant smile add the extra touch to the hard work Dan described, and we’re grateful to have her as a volunteer on the Ice Age Trail!

As Thelma demonstrates, trailbuilding is more than swinging a pick mattock or using a chain saw. Join fun, welcoming and hard-working volunteers at a Mobile Skills Crew project this season and choose from a variety of jobs. You may even get to experience Thelma’s famous bread pudding!


Spring trailbuilding projects a hearty success along the Trail

Stone steps on the Gibraltar Segment of the Ice Age Trail

The sound and feel of rock fitting solidly against rock is unmistakably satisfying. For trail builders, this sound represents a lasting contribution to the hiking community.

Thank you to the 28 volunteers who devoted a combined 1,020 hours to the Mobile Skills Crew Stonework Workshop event in Columbia County this spring, learning and applying stonework skills they’ll share along the Ice Age Trail.

Gaining stonework knowledge and experience was priority #1 during the project, but along the way, they also split boulders for new steps, built over 50 feet of retaining and side walls, and securely set a remarkable 27 rock steps in challenging terrain on the Gibraltar Segment.

Volunteers construct 100 feet of elevated boardwalk on the East Twin River Segment

Thanks also goes out to the 22 volunteers of the IATA Lakeshore Chapter region for devoting over 230 hours to constructing a masterful boardwalk on the East Twin River Segment in May. Last year’s successful Mobile Skills Crew event along the segment opened the serene 1.3-mile section, but one last item needed attention – an elevated boardwalk through a perennial wet area. Volunteers stepped up to coordinate this regional trailbuilding project and complete the 100-foot boardwalk.

Thank you to all our dedicated volunteers!