21 Hikes During the 9-Day Gun-Deer Season

An Ice Age Trail trailhead sign with a yellow blaze stands in the forefront of a fall colors backdrop.
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 Katie Ryan.
The nine-day gun deer hunting season (November 18 – 26, 2023) spans the Thanksgiving holiday, a time when friends and family gather. It’s natural to want to introduce your loved ones to the Ice Age Trail, yet safe hiking options are limited. Keeping this in mind, we have 21 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. Most of these options take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communities and are a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.

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Preventing Tick-borne Illnesses

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With warm weather enticing hikers into Wisconsin’s wild spaces, it’s a good time to consider how to prevent tick-borne illnesses while recreating outdoors. Tick-borne illnesses typically first cause flu-like symptoms and usually can be treated with antibiotics if caught early. Untreated, they may cause serious health problems, including death in rare cases. Information on tick-borne illnesses and tips to prevent tick exposure can be found below.

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We’re hiring: AmeriCorps VISTA member!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, AmeriCorps VISTA, Stewards Individual Placement Program, Hiring

Position Description

As the 1,200-mile-long Ice Age National Scenic Trail winds through Wisconsin, it travels through remote regions of the state containing low-income counties. Yet, these areas also hold some of the state’s greatest natural beauty.

The AmeriCorps VISTA member will help create a bridge between the Ice Age Trail and the positive societal and economic impacts created when visitors visit and locals embrace the Ice Age Trail.

Activities will vary, but they will include assisting in outreach initiatives and cultivating a strong social media presence promoting the positive impacts the Ice Age Trail can have on local economies.

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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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Ice Age Trail Community Partnership Thrives in Slinger

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Slinger, Trail Community, Trail Community Celebration, Mammoth Hike Challenge, Monty, Monty the Mammoth
Monty the Mammoth and Hootie the Owl oversee the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new multi-use trail in October 2020. From left to right: Joe Fay, Slinger - Allenton Rotary; Monty the Mammoth - Ice Age Trail Alliance; Russ Brandt - Village of Slinger President Hootie the Owl Slinger School District Mascot; Wally Steger - Slinger Allenton Rotary. Photo courtesy of Village of Slinger.
In October 2020, the Ice Age Trail Community of Slinger opened a multi-use, community trail that hosts a new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The multi-year effort to build the trail came about through strong partnerships and coordination between the Village, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), and multiple landowners, businesses, and community organizations.

The new route of the Slinger Segment replaces a previous 0.7-mile road walk with a new 0.9-mile section of Ice Age Trail connecting the Slinger Segment to the Cedar Lakes Segment. The scenic trail corridor passes through Slinger’s Community Park and continues north along wetlands adjacent to Little Switzerland Ski Area. Continue reading

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!

By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
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’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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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

History, Hemlocks, and Hummocks: Wood Lake Has Them All

By Robert “Bob” Rusch
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Wood Lake Segment, Wood Lake Loop, High Point Chapter

On September 26, 2020, a captivating 3.6-mile hiking trail, the Wood Lake Loop, opened in Wisconsin’s Northwoods. This trail offers a scenic outdoor experience and a fascinating learning opportunity. Along the loop, you’ll find fifteen interpretive signs that highlight geological and historical sites, with a special focus on the area’s early logging history. These points of interest enrich the hiking experience and foster a deeper connection between the community and its public land.

Enjoy the peaceful forest setting as you walk the loop that circles Wood Lake, a spring-fed 67-acre body of water. The Wood Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail follows the loop trail’s western and southern portions. The white-blazed northern part of the loop, known as the Camp 4 Trail, highlights the historic Logging Camp 4 site, which was in operation from 1906 to 1910.

Hikers may access the loop trail from the Wood Lake County Park, which hosts a boat landing, picnic and swimming areas, rustic camping, drinking water, and restrooms.

Wood Lake Loop trail and blaze 2

The Taylor County Forestry Department brought this loop trail to life with its partners, the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Rib Lake Historical Society LLC. The first step toward creating this walking path began in 2016 when County Forester Jake Walsiak came across unnatural, curving earthen ridges. Thinking them strange and curious, he contracted Bob Rusch, manager of the Rib Lake Historical Society. Bob studied the site and explained how the three-foot-high ridges came to be. 1906, as the Rib Lake Lumber Company was extending its logging railroad, the crew building the right of way encountered a hill. As the laborers used horse-pulled carts or “slushers” to excavate the railroad grade, the equipment left the ridges of earth behind.

Bob shared photos depicting workers using slushers as they built State Highway 13 in the 1920s. He also mentioned that the Historical Society had over 10,000 photographs in its online collection. The images included pictures of men peeling hemlock bark for the tannery, log drives on Wood Creek, and thousands of logs floating in Wood Lake. They also portrayed the Rib Lake Lumber Company’s Shay locomotive at Camp 4, which operated from 1906 to 1973. The idea was born: Use these photographs to illustrate local historical events along the Ice Age Trail.

Jake Walsiak worked with his county forestry committee, which unanimously approved funding for the signs. The Alliance wrote an informative explanation of high-relief hummocky topography and provided an attending color illustration. High Point Chapter Co-Coordinators, Butch Clendenning and Buzz Meyer, organized a group of hardworking volunteers, including Abby Barten and Jennifer Medina-Gray. They hauled signs and posts, dug post holes, and erected them. In September 2020, the Chapter hosted an inaugural hike of the Wood Lake Loop Trail as part of its dedication.

About the Author

Robert “Bob” Rusch hails from Taylor County, near Rib Lake, WI, where he lives with his wife, Ann, on the beautiful Rusch Preserve. This 170-acre preserve hosts impressive geological formations, beautifully forested land featuring several historic sites, and a section of the Rib Lake Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Rusch, a long-time member of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the High Point Chapter, is also manager of the Rib Lake Historical Society.

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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