Do-dos and Don’ts of Dog Poop

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Dog Poop, Dog Poop Bag, Dog, Trail Etiquette, Leave No Trace
Remember your baggies! Ice Age National Scenic Trail users should pack out ALL of their pet's dog poop while hiking, Photo courtesy of Getty Images.
Dog waste is more than a nuisance to hikers on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: it also can cause water quality issues and negative health effects for humans and wildlife. For these reasons, Ice Age Trail users should plan to pack out all dog waste generated by their pet while hiking.

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AmeriCorps VISTA Member Joins the Alliance!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Justine Kapitzke, VISTA, AmeriCorps, Spring, Headquarters, Cross Plains
Justine Kapitzke began her year of AmeriCorps VISTA service in April 2021. Photo by Elena Mederas.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is pleased to welcome Justine Kapitzke as the newest addition to the Alliance communications team! Kapitzke is joining the Alliance as an AmeriCorps VISTA member through Conservation Legacy’s Stewards Individual Placement Program.

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A Gift of the Trail: Finding Peace Within Myself

By Whitney Meckikalski, guest writer and new member
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Membership, New Member, Whitney Meckikalski, Pike Lake Segment, Dog
Whitney and her canine companion, The Worst Dog Ever!, enjoy a sunny, winter hike on the Pike Lake Segment. Photo by Whitney Meckikalski.
Growing up and into my twenties, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail periodically made fleeting appearances on the periphery of my awareness. It was something I heard other people talk about – people who walked in different circles than me. They were people I didn’t understand or connect with, being outdoorsy, fit, and adventurous. They were the crunchy granola-types who made homemade deodorant. They seemed to have a crystal-clear idea about Life’s meaning.

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Volunteers Transform Slopes of Steenbock Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Steenbock Preserve, Gibraltar Rock Segment, MSC, 2021, Mobile Skills Crew, Volunteers, Land Stewardship
Dane County Chapter volunteer Tom Wise clears trees to help transform the hillside from an encroaching juniper forest into diverse oak and prairie habitat. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
For the fifth year running, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the US Fish & Wildlife Service (USFWS) came together with volunteers to continue restoration efforts on the Gibraltar Rock Segment. Under exhaustive conditions, crews worked to remove the invading juniper forest from the slopes of the Steenbock Preserve. Thanks to your efforts, biodiversity will be increased and nearly three acres of historic prairie can begin to heal and reclaim the landscape.

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We are hiring an AmeriCorps VISTA member!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, AmeriCorps VISTA, Stewards Individual Placement Program, Hiring
The Ice Age Trail Alliance believes the 1,200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a place where all people can enjoy and embrace the unique natural landscapes and cultural histories of Wisconsin, while finding physical and mental renewal in a peaceful setting, and an enduring spiritual connection to the land. In addition to the personal wellness and motivation one finds on the Trail, the broader community benefits from this resource. Indeed, the characteristics of the Trail are the same forces which create a variety of economic development streams communities may capitalize upon.

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We’ve Partnered with Target Circle

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Target Circle, Voting
We are excited to announce that the Ice Age Trail Alliance has been chosen to participate in a special charitable giving campaign, sponsored and funded by Target. And you have the chance to help direct a portion of Target’s donation to us!

Each purchase you make at Target, online or at a store – provided you’ve signed up for the Target Circle program – earns you the opportunity to vote. You can keep voting multiple times during the campaign!

Thank you for your support, and we encourage you to share your support for us (and your thanks to Target) on social media throughout the duration of the voting!

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The History We Make: From Newbie to Thousand-Miler

By Lou Ann Novak, Guest Writer and Thousand-Miler
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Thousand-Miler Journal, Thousand Miler, Thru-hike
Lou Ann Novak, clearly in her happy place, while on her journey towards becoming a Thousand-Miler. Photo by Lou Ann Novak.
My Ice Age National Scenic Trail experience began in April 2016. I knew nothing about the Ice Age Trail then. I had seen the yellow blazes, but didn’t know what they meant. One day out of curiosity, I searched for ‘Ice Age Trail’ on the Internet.

From the first, I was amazed at how each step seemed to leave the urban world behind. I thought how pleasant it would be to explore a few segments, but I really wasn’t hooked (yet). I bought the IAT Guidebook and Atlas. I enjoyed the mental exercise of planning my hikes. I would review the Guidebook and then map out my route. Since I was a solo hiker, I parked the car, biked one way on public roads and then walked the Trail back to my car.

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Volunteers Ensure Successful 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Stone Steps, Trailbuilding, Volunteers
Volunteers spent 7,727 hours building and improving segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this trailbuilding season, including these beautifully crafted stone steps on the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
In an especially trying year, we learned how valuable the work we perform is as countless people discovered adventure near home. Parking lots filled and overflowed. Quiet, little known segments awoke with the footsteps and chatter of newly initiated hikers.

In May, after an unsettling absence, volunteers reconnected with the Ice Age Trail. Your skills and efforts were needed – and appreciated – more than ever. With our productive start to the year in the rearview mirror, we regrouped and accomplished quite a bit – and did it safely. Thank you for everything you did this year, and in the previous decades, to create one of the Midwest’s best hiking trails.

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Bob & Victoria Connors Push to ‘Close the Gaps’ of the Ice Age Trail

By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Vista, Burr Oak, Oak, Wetland
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail passes through private, state-owned, and Alliance-owned lands. Donations to funds like the Bob & Victoria Land Resource Fund offer the resources needed for the Alliance to acquire and protect land to host the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Nick Lane.

The Connors Family has a strong commitment to “close the gaps” in the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The purpose of the Robert & Victoria Land Resource Fund is to facilitate land acquisition by the Alliance to host and permanently protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The fund offers the resources needed to act quickly when land protection opportunities arise.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Entrusted with Swamplovers Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Swamplovers Preserve, Table Bluff, Wetlands, Vista
The diverse Swamplovers Preserve includes wetland, prairie, and oak savannah habitat, which host a variety of resident and migratory wildlife. The Preserve was recently transferred to the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Photo by Kevin Thusius.
On November 24, 2020, the ownership and management responsibilities of the Swamplovers Preserve, a 433-acre property perched on the rolling hills of southwestern Dane County, transferred from the Swamplovers Foundation to the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

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Support the Trail Through Online Shopping!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Gibraltar Rock Segment, Santa, Santa Claus, Winter, Holidays
You're not the only one who loves the Ice Age National Scenic Trail: Santa enjoys a hike or two as well! Consider supporting the Ice Age Trail while online shopping this holiday season and help protect the places you love.

This holiday season, consider supporting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail while buying gifts for the people you love!

There are several ways you can support the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this holiday season AND get all of your holiday shopping done. See a list of three ways you can shop online and support the Ice Age Trail below.

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Spend Your Thanksgiving Holiday on the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Hiker, Fog, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Fall, October
Looking for an alternative to large gatherings and Black Friday shopping this Thanksgiving holiday? How about a stroll on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail! Photo by Joshua Fager.
With many Thanksgiving and Black Friday plans canceled, you may be looking for safe and family-friendly alternatives to gatherings. When making your holiday plans, consider taking a walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It may be the perfect place to slow down, find internal peace, and gain clarity during the season of gratitude.

However, the Thanksgiving holiday also takes place in the heart of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have 13 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. All of the following suggested hikes take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.

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Donors Instrumental in Protecting Rice Lake Preserve

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Rice Lake, Rice Lake Preserve
Sunrise on Rice Lake bog in Marathon County. The efforts of 111 donors will help us conserve 64-acres along Rice Lake and Rice Lake Creek. Photo by Roger Zimmerman.
Wow! For the second time this year, generous donors stepped up to help the Ice Age Trail Alliance permanently protect a future home of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The support of 111 donors will help create a 64-acre preserve along Rice Lake and Rice Lake Creek in Marathon County.

Fundamental to this campaign’s success was Prairie Springs: The Paul Fleckenstein Trust, which also kindly supported our efforts to protect and expand the Rice Lake Preserve.

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Welcome to the Ice Age Trail Alliance

By Amy Lord, Education and Outreach Manager & Eric Sherman, Membership and Grants Coordinator
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters
The Ice Age Trail Alliance headquarters is located in Cross Plains, WI along the Cross Plains Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

We’re Glad You’re a Part of Our Community!

As wild and crazy as 2020 has been, we would like to take a moment to slow down and say WELCOME and THANK YOU!

Welcome to those of you who recently joined our Ice Age Trail Alliance community, and thank you to those who renewed your membership. The Ice Age Trail Alliance witnessed an unprecedented number of Trail enthusiasts joining in 2020! To date, we welcomed 625 new members, compared with 311 at this same point last year, while our renewal rate remained as healthy as ever. We’re now more than 4,300 members strong, an increase of about 30% over the past decade. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Event: Join us on the Ringle Segment!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Event
The final MSC event of the 2020 trailbuilding season will be taking place on the Ringle Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on October 5-11. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Mobile Skills Crew Event

Ringle Segment

Marathon County (Central Wisconsin)

October 5-11, 2020

To say the least, it’s been a weird year. With plans everchanging, we hold on to the normal activities – the ones we can still do – to anchor our lives. A constant on the Mobile Skills Crew event (MSC) calendar since 2017, trailbuilding along the Ringle Segment provides familiarity: the base camp setting, the scenery, the type of work. It’s fitting, in this discombobulated year, that we end with an old friend.

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Boardwalk Construction a Speedy Success!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Southern Kewaskum Segment, Boardwalk, Trailbuilding, MSC, Mobile Skills Crew
Completed boardwalk on the Southern Kewaskum Segment through the efforts of volunteers during the September Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Exceeding expectations is easy when ideal weather and the perfect group of volunteers align, as they did for the Washington County Mobile Skills Crew event. This combination generated a momentum that blew ahead of the pre-set schedule.

Each task was sizeable but proved no challenge for the crews. Veteran trailbuilders brought new volunteers up to speed under their careful tutelage. A strong team formed to knock out the work, while wearing masks and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

The final product, a 269-foot-long boardwalk, includes a bump-out designed as a wheel-chair passing zone and look-out platform for hikers wishing to slow down and listen to the springtime chorus of frogs.

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Mobile Skills Crew Event a Success During Pandemic!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Volunteers, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC, Boardwalk, LaBudde Creek Segment
A volunteer works steadily and safely while adding the kick plate, a finishing touch along the 248-foot-long boardwalk on the LaBudde Creek Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Our first Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event since February, the LaBudde Creek event brought a kaleidoscope of emotions:

  • anxiety, like when dancing after not having done so in a long while;
  • change, as when seeing with new eyes a way to navigate new norms;
  • gratitude, like when an old friend breaks silence with laughter.

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Enhance Biodiversity Through Seed Collecting!

By Eva Ballering, Land Steward at the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Prairie, Sunset, Summer
A blooming prairie in summer: insects buzz from flower to flower, enriching themselves on sweet nectar. Thick leaves rustle loudly in the hot humid air. Purples and yellows blend together at the horizon. Photo by Eva Ballering.
Following the phenology of the season can be one of life’s greatest pleasures for prairie enthusiasts. With the late summer burst of color, in its final hurrah for the season, the majority of plants start to wind down and prepare for winter. Although this is a notable event, the prairie has been busy all season.  By the time the prairie is in full bloom, many species have already taken their turn to flower, attract pollinators, and produce seed.

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Experiencing John Muir and Wisconsin’s Citizens: The Trail Angel’s Trail

By J.J. King, Ice Age Trail Hiker and Proud Thousand-Miler
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Landscape, Thousand Miler Journal
A glimpse into the landscape that forged John Muir’s love and admiration for Mother Nature. Photo by J.J. King.
My hike along the Ice Age Trail (July 28, 2017 to October 7, 2017) promoted a deep and profound connection with one of America’s most historical citizens as well as remarkable present-day citizens. It provided a link to a champion of the outdoors, John Muir. He kindled the earliest principles of land conservation, preservation and stewardship. Continue reading

Outside Every Day: Kids Spend their Summer on the Trail

By Aberdeen Leary, Ice Age Trail Alliance Outreach, Education, & Engagement Program Intern
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Kennedy Heights, Kennedy Heights Community Center, Outreach and Education
Kennedy Heights elementary schoolers pose after conquering their first hike at Badger County Park in the summer of 2019. Photo by Aberdeen Leary.
When the students at Kennedy Heights Community Center in Madison signed up for summer camp, it’s safe to say not one of them planned on spending every day of their summer outdoors. Yet, as part of the Center’s new initiative, they got to do just that!

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Respecting Ice Age Trail Closures

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Trail Signage
A variety of signage lines the Ice Age National Scenic Trail route. Yellow blazes mark the Ice Age Trail and important trail closure signs and private property notices inform hikers about Trail accessibility. Photo by David Caliebe.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail traverses over 1000 miles of forestlands, prairies, wetlands, and roadways throughout Wisconsin. Many of these paths are made possible by partnerships with private landowners and lands owned and managed by municipal, county, state and federal agencies. As such, hikers must be mindful of a regulations on property types, hunting seasons, and trail signage while hiking the Ice Age Trail, especially when crossing private lands. Guidelines for hiking through private lands are found below.

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Richard Smith Receives Cherished Spirit Stick Award

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Spirit Stick Award, Richard Smith, Cornell
The 2020 Spirit Stick award was presented to Richard Smith for his long-term dedication and service to the Trail. Photo by Ice Age Trail Alliance staff.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Spirit Stick award symbolizes long-term dedication and service to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and is presented to only one recipient per year. The Spirit Stick nominees must exhibit a passion for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail that has become a way of life; lead by example and inspire those around them; and carry out their service in a spirit of cooperation, optimism, and enthusiasm.

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Historic House Vote Secures Funds for Public Lands

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Table Bluff Segment, Dane County
The Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers a stunning example of a restored native prairie. Prairie restoration on Table Bluff has been funded in part by the Land and Water Conservation Fund (LWCF). Photo by Paul Eastwood.

The U.S. House of Representatives took a historic vote on July 22 when it approved the Great American Outdoors Act, a bill that will invest in priority repairs at National Park Service (NPS) sites in Wisconsin and across the country. From the Ice Age Trail National Scenic Trail to the Apostle Islands National Lakeshore, needed repairs in Wisconsin’s NPS sites total $21.9 million, just part of the multi-billion maintenance backlog threatening park resources and local economies.

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Support the Great American Outdoors Act!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mammoth Steps, Mammoth Steps 2020, Devil's Lake Segment
Wisconsinites enjoy access to public lands across the state, including along the Devil's Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Hikers approach the east bluff of Devil's Lake from the south by traveling through Roznos Meadow. Photo by Megan Diermeier.

The historic Great American Outdoors Act (GAOA) was passed by the senate earlier this year, and it will be voted on by the U.S. House of Representatives this Wednesday, July 22.

Please reach out to your state representatives to support the

Great American Outdoors Act!

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2020 Ray Zillmer Award Recipients

The Ray Zillmer Award

The Ray Zillmer Award is named after Raymond T. Zillmer, founder of Ice Age Park & Trail Foundation (now the Ice Age Trail Alliance). The award recognizes individuals whose work exemplifies the ideals that inspired the establishment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Nominees shall have performed at least two of the following:

• Served the Ice Age Trail for at least 20 years.

• Markedly elevated public awareness of the Trail.

• Secured significant funding.

• Significantly advanced the IATA’s mission in some other way.

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