A Little TLC – and Voila! – Beauty Revealed: Help Build the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Polk County Mobile Skills Crew Projec

Sunset on Straight Lake
Photo Credit: Rita Fox

Huge volumes of molten lava gushed through a split in the earth’s crust a billion years ago, forming the exposed basalt rock outcroppings we see along the Straight Lake and Trade River segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Toss in a continent-sized glacier 10,000 years ago, four Mobile Skills Crew events five years ago, steady love from local trail maintainers and — voila! — a signature section of the Ice Age Trail, the gift we and countless others enjoy today.

But neither man, woman, nor mercurial Mother Nature is quite done with Polk County yet. Two years ago, straight-line winds scattered 100-foot-tall trees like matchsticks across the trail and frost-heave has been tugging and pushing on a 200-foot-long boardwalk, tipping it sideways. Despite the ongoing and dedicated efforts of local volunteers, this section of Trail is in need of a little extra TLC.

Trailbuilding Event

Straight Lake and Trade River Segments
Wednesday, Sept. 14 – Sunday, Sept. 18
Polk County, northwest Wisconsin

As with all Mobile Skills Crew events, no experience is necessary and there’s a role for volunteers of all ages and abilities…bring the whole family! Your contribution is welcome for any amount of time you can give. Training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders, and all participants get free meals and (for those working with us for multiple days) a free place to pitch a tent.

Click here for a project map.

What we’re doing at this project:

  • Opening not 1 or 2 but 4 new dispersed camping areas to provide more tenting options for long-distance Ice Age Trail hikers.
  • Utilizing new technologies and skills learned to retrofit three existing boardwalks and build a new 325-foot-long boardwalk to replace bare planks laid on the ground in an effort to keep feet dry.
  • Clearing and reestablishing the “Trail Stewardship Zone” — an irregularly shaped area on both sides of the Trail. Currently, trees sit gnarled and twisted adjacent to the Trail, creating a hotbed for weedy undergrowth. We will work to restore viewsheds, letting the landscape reveal its natural beauty.

Important note:

Straight Lake State Park will be under construction during the project. If you plan to join us, please review construction info from the DNR prior to heading out.

Looking ahead to future projects:

October 18 – 23, Storrs Lake Segment, Rock County (southern Wisconsin) – register now

We hope to see you later this month!