The Ice Age Trail Alliance supporters, staff, and community members had lots to celebrate August 8-12 during our Ice Age Trail Days.
Beginning with the dream of a single individual, Ray Zillmer who, in 1958, envisioned the Ice Age Trail and established what would become the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Fast forward 60 years and the Ice Age Trail is one of only eleven National Scenic Trails in the United States and the Alliance its strongest advocate.
We now count a dedicated membership base of 3,500 advocates and over 2,100 wildly enthusiastic volunteers who generate almost 80,000 hours of time and effort to create, support, and protect our thousand-mile footpath. Over 1.3 million people are able to use the Trail annually thanks to these folks.
And so we CELEBRATED!
By Building a Mile-Long Section of Trail…
Our mission is simple and singular: to create, support, and protect one of the premier outdoor experiences in the country – the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. To this end, 185 volunteers arrived from across the State to build a memorable 1-mile section of Trail as part of our signature Mobile Skills Crew program. Built by hand, and with 4,100 hours of labor, the Trail hosted its first hikers on Saturday afternoon. Through muggy conditions and a searing sun, volunteers constructed 14 stone steps, 260 feet of stone and timber retaining walls, installed 18 signage posts, cleared acres of brush, and prepared countless meals.
With a Farm-to-Table Dinner, Cake, and Music…
We celebrated the best way we know how, by bringing Trail enthusiasts together for good food, conversation, and music. We enjoyed a delicious farm-to-table dinner prepared by SixChips Catering with farm-fresh veggies from Vermont Valley Community Farm and locally-raised chicken from Stonehaus Farm. 608 Community Supported Kitchen handily prepared pounds and pounds of coho salmon from Sitka Salmon Shares. All the goodness was paired with Esser’s Best Beer. Perfection! Music by Paul Filipowicz and his band mates followed, sponsored by Crossroads Coffeehouse.
By Exploring Favorite Trails…
A Tyke Hike led by Luke Kramer, an Intro to Trail Running workshop hosted by Jonnah Mellenthin Perkins, a Cross Plains History hike by Doc and Char Esser, and a guided hike along the brand new mile-long section led by Director of Trail Operations, Tim Malzhan rounded out Saturday!
By Raising Money for the Trail…
We raised over $2,000 in our PACK the PACKS raffle ticket sales thanks to Corporate Friends, Granite Gear and REI, and our Trail Communities of Cross Plains, Janesville, Lodi, Slinger, Verona, West Bend, and Whitewater.
The packs donated by Granite Gear were packed with outdoor gear from REI and goodies unique to our Trail Communities.
By Introducing Our Trail Friends to Our Friends of the Trail…
Collaboration and partnership are key ingredients in our success during the past 60 years. These elements were evident in our community-wide celebration which opened with partner exhibits, highlighting the important work of organizations whose missions dovetail with and support our work.
We were honored to showcase the good work of these fine organizations:
- Black Earth Creek Watershed Association
- Friends of Festge Park
- Fontana Sports
- Gathering Waters Wisconsin Land Trust Days #HaveFunOutside
- Gateway to the Driftless
- L.L. Bean Madison
- National Park Service
- Partnership for the National Trails System
- Prairie Enthusiasts
- REI Co-op Madison
- US Fish & Wildlife Service
- Village of Cross Plains
- Wisconsin DNR #OutWiGo
Seeds planted 60 years ago with the creation of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and 50 years ago with the passage of the National Trail System Act, have germinated thanks to the enduring contributions of conservation-minded volunteers like YOU. Taking root, the vision of premier, continuous, and permanently protected Trail will continue to grow and strengthen over the next 60 years. We will continue to craft and protect a resilient footpath showcasing the best of Wisconsin’s outdoor landscape.
See you out on the Trail!
Executive Director President