Hiking Responsibly During a COVID-19 Pandemic

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Note: Updated 5/27/2020

A hike on a favorite segment of Ice Age National Scenic Trail offers mood-boosting fresh air and sunshine and provides a respite from the uncertainty around us. The Ice Age Trail is a perfect place for slowing down, gathering your internal resources, and gaining clarity.

It’s also important, while we are out exploring the Trail, that we remain respectful of the fact COVID-19 is still in our midst. It’s important to help stop the spread of the virus and help flatten the curve with considerate and responsible behavior.

Is Hiking Still Allowed?

Yes! It’s allowed and good for you, too! However, best practices call for thoughtful social distancing.

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Mammoth Steps to Reconnect

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Overjoyed to Reconnect with the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Mary Johnson.

National Trails Day, Saturday, June 6, 2020

A Day to Reconnect, Refresh, and Assess.

Some days feel like they take FOREVER to get here. This year, Saturday, June 6, National Trails Day, is one of those. We’re marking its arrival by joining together and taking Mammoth Steps on behalf of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

This day will be among the first opportunities for Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers to get back to doing what they love best: creating, supporting, and protecting the Ice Age Trail.

It’s a day to reconnect with the Trail from which they’ve been apart during the last few months.

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Mammoth Beauty Celebration!

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A mother and son enjoy a spring saunter on the Lodi Marsh Segment in Dane County. Photo by Joshua Fager.
Imaginehikers safely sauntering along the entire Ice Age National Scenic Trail from end to end in a single day!

Imagineif they photographed the best features of the Ice Age Trail along the way: the expansive views, tread unfurling ahead, and ephemerals peeking up from the forest floor.

Imaginea snapshot of the Ice Age Trail, in its entirety, as it looks on a single day!

This vision could become a reality with your help.

We have 120 Ice Age Trail segments waiting for you to enjoy, camera in hand and eyes finely-tuned for beauty, as part of our National Trails Day celebration on Saturday, June 6.

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Contest: Trail Inspired Limericks

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Are you looking for a lighthearted distraction from the pandemic?

Limericks are the answer! These short, silly poems offer a much-needed dash of humor to an otherwise uncertain situation.

Try your hand at writing an Ice Age Trail inspired limerick, (or two, or more) and enter them into our contest (in honor of National Poetry Month).

Your limerick could be an ode to mosquitoes, permethrin, ticks, yellow blazes, eskers, or kettle lakes! (Or wherever else your inspiration is found!)

They’re easy enough to write – get the kids involved!

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Spring’s Woodland Beauties

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Hepatica blooms along the Gibraltar Rock Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Nazan Gillie.
It’s a pleasant surprise to find small, dainty wildflowers peeking up through rough, brown leaves scattered across the forest floor. Such delicate beauty after a stark, frozen winter. Their emergence is a less a lesson about timing and patience, than it is of hardiness. They barely wait for a thawing earth before they surface and each year, it seems, their hardiness is tested as they endure one last snowy lashing of winter.

As you turn your face to the sun and head out on a hike, be on the look out for these woodland beauties:

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Hike Responsibly: 13 Things to Know

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Bohn Lake Segment, Washara County. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
The weather is perfect: sunshine, a light breeze, blue sky. It’s ideal hiking conditions. However, our nation is in the midst of a COVID-19 pandemic. What’s a responsible hiker and Ice Age Trail enthusiast to do?

Help Flatten the Curve:  

  1. Stay Local. Limit travel to within your community (or county). If you do not live near an Ice Age Trail segment, please enjoy your local county or city parks, or your own back yard.
  2. Let Go. Set aside your Thousand-Miler goal, whether it was to section-hike segments, or to begin a long-distance, multi-day thru-hike.

Hike Responsibly, if You Choose to Hike: Continue reading

We’ve Partnered with Target Circle

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We are honored and excited to announce that we have 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!

Now through June 30, vote for us through the Target Circle program to help determine how Target’s donation will be divvied up. Find out more about Target Circle here: www.target.com/circle

Please note, voting is based on location and the Ice Age Trail Alliance is being featured in the Madison/Southern WI market which means Fitchburg, Janesville, Lake Geneva, Madison, Pleasant Prairie, Racine, and Sun Prairie.  However, if you live outside these urban areas, you can select one of these stores to be your Target store at which point, the Ice Age Trail Alliance becomes one of your voting options.

We’re asking our supporters, especially those of you who live in the urban areas listed above, to help us make the most of this incredible opportunity. Every vote counts to help us receive a portion of the available Target funds as we continue our mission to create, support, and protect the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

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Give Forest Bathing a Try!

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Along the Milwaukee River Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
The term “forest bathing” may bring up some odd images and a few questions, but in Japan, forest bathing, called “Shinrin-yoku” in Japanese, is a leisurely visit to a forest. Shinrin means “forest,” and yoku means “bath.” So Shinrin-yoku means bathing in the forest atmosphere, or taking in the forest through our senses. The aim of forest bathing is to slow down and let ourselves become immersed in the natural environment around us. Continue reading

Nature’s Wildness is a Necessity

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The Hartman Creek Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

“Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity.”

~John Muir, environmentalist and author of Our National Parks, 1901

Mountains are hard to come by in Wisconsin. Yet, we have the excellent fortune of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail wending its way through the state. The Ice Age Trail provides us with the necessary wildness and opportunity to come home.  A vigorous hike or leisurely walk on a favorite segment of this thousand-mile footpath lets us, the “tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized,” reacquaint ourselves with a vital source of well-being, nature. Continue reading

Celebrating Mammoth’s Back Preserve!

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The double hump, unglaciated bedrock hills of the newly acquired Mammoth's Back Preserve. Photo by Kevin Thusius.
We are super excited to announce that on Monday the Ice Age Trail Alliance purchased 46 acres of land in Dane County at the edge of the Driftless region near the Village of Cross Plains.

This success is thanks to YOU! Along with the help of conservation-minded donors in the Dane County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and local business owner, Mary Devitt, of the Crossroads Coffeehouse, we were able to raise private funds to supplement funding from the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program and the Dane County Conservation Fund.

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Trailbuilding & Stewardship Event

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A crew burns brush piles to restore a remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment in Columbia County. Photo by Kevin Thusius.

For the fourth year running, we plan to torch eastern red cedar and other undesirable woody plants to restore a wonderful remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Already, many pockets of native prairie species are thriving where trees have been removed and seeds are exposed to sunlight. With every push to restore native prairie we also push to revitalize the beautiful views of Wisconsin’s unique topography and waterways.

This special Leap Day event is a twice-in-a-decade type of experience, don’t miss out!
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Ice and Stalwart Volunteers!

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We’re befriending ice to set 22 bridge abutments beneath 8 inches of ice and through 30 inches of cold, dark water to support what will become a 577-foot-long boardwalk elevated 6 feet. Photo by Kevin Kuhlmann.

Wednesday, February 5th, through Saturday, February 8th, we embark on the most complex boardwalk construction project in Alliance history.
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Thank You!

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A father-daughter duo hike the Jerry Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Jessica Featherstone

We are humbled and inspired by the 500+ donors who helped us surpass our $50,000 Challenge Match. Your collective generosity ranged from $5 to $5,000 and came from 17 different states showing the impact the Ice Age National Scenic Trail has on communities close by and those far afield.

Your support inspires us, underpinning all we do, as we work to create, support, and protect the Ice Age Trail. We look forward to doing justice to your donations by improving the Trail, foot-by-foot and acre-by-acre. Continue reading

Fourteen Black Friday Hikes: #OptOutside

#OptOutside. Get a dose of fresh air and hike off that extra slice of pumpkin pie. Photo by Dave Caliebe

#OptOutside. Get a dose of fresh air and hike off that extra slice of pumpkin pie.
Photo by Dave Caliebe

The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to participate in #OptOutside with our partner REI, Inc. #OptOutside takes place on Black Friday (November 29th) and encourages people to take a hike!

Here in Wisconsin, the day after Thanksgiving is also the heart of the nine-day gun deer-hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have set up 14 hikes where deer hunting is not allowed.

All of the following suggested hikes take place in Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities. Continue reading

Wildcard Season! Join us!

It’s wildcard season with not one, but two wildcards! The main event will take place in Marathon County to continue work on the Ringle Segment. A second, smaller event will take place in Langlade County along the Summit Moraine Segment (formerly Old Railroad) to continue storm damage cleanup.

Help us end the “Building for the 23rd Century” tour on a high note by signing up for one (or both) of the events! Please register by Sunday, October 13th.

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Now a Longer, More Sustainable Trail!

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Two volunteers work on securing deck boards for the 166-foot-long boardwalk across Bohn Lake. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

With a chain of lakes as a result of a tunnel channel and deep kettles among the oaks and pines, it’s easy to surround yourself with spectacular glacial landscapes when hiking the Ice Age Trail in Waushara County.

Last week, you chipped in to help the Trail grow a little bit longer and a lot more sustainable. Boardwalk construction, stonework, tread construction, and trail maintenance all whirled together to create a project that improved overall access and visibility to various segments throughout the county.

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September Trail Improvement Days

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Trail Improvement Days are a good way to meet other Ice Age Trail enthusiasts, spend time outdoors, and give back to the Trail you love. Photo by Cameron Gillie-www.aroundwisco.com

Nature offers one of the most reliable boosts to mental and physical well-being. Spending time in the outdoors has been found to improve short-term memory, concentration, and creativity—while reducing the effects of stress and anxiety.

September is a great time to get outside and onto the Ice Age Trail. The prairies are alive with bright yellow blooms of goldenrod and sunflowers. Monarchs dot the landscape feeding on New England asters before they wing their way south! At the edge of the woods, rows of sumac and maple trees wink with red leaves, hinting at more colors to come.

Volunteering on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a great way to meet local Trail enthusiasts, spend time with family and friends, introduce your kids to a volunteer ethic, and enjoy the many benefits that come from connecting with nature.

Trail Improvement Days are usually half-day events and don’t require any previous trail maintenance skills – friendly volunteers will happily show you what to do and answer questions! Continue reading

Build Trail Where a Meltwater River Flowed!

Enjoy the final fall blooms of native prairie plants as you build Ice Age Trail in Waushara County. Photo by Tim Malzhan. 

The vision which guided the purchase of 235 acres surrounding Bohn Lake in 2004 – to create a focal point for the interpretation of a glacial tunnel channel – continues to unfold this month in Waushara County as we build new and improve on existing sections of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Did you know? Bohn Lake is part of a 14-mile-long glacial tunnel channel, created by a meltwater river flowing beneath glacial ice whose outlet was where the Village of Hancock stands today. The Trail weaves in and out of this tunnel channel, opening for interpretation the subglacial flow of water which carved the landscape.

Is this your first trailbuilding experience? We’re offering a dedicated, guaranteed hands-on “Trail Building Basics” class for first-time volunteers

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Persistence, Skill, and Ingenuity!

A volunteer crew who embodies persistence, skill, and ingenuity, smiles despite the rain and mud. Photo by Tim Malzhan.

Nothing comes easily when building new Ice Age Trail in Marathon County. Through persistence, skill, and ingenuity, volunteers overcame all challenges – boulders birthing boulders, remote access to work areas, rain and physical constraints – in what is destined to be a spectacular interpretation of Wisconsin’s glacial landscape. Continue reading

Help Open Two Miles of Trail

A boardwalk built during a previous (Act II) Mobile Skills Crew project along the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Another long-awaited section of new Ice Age Trail will be open for hikers this summer!

The stage has been set for Act III. All we need is you. Join us in our quest to open two additional miles of Ice Age Trail along the Ringle Segment!

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