By Whitney Meckikalski, guest writer and new member
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.
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.
In 2000, a young man applied for a position with the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation as its Eastern Field Coordinator based in West Bend. A two and a half hour interview ensued, and a day later, Kevin Thusius accepted the position. Within 24 hours, he was meeting with a landowner in Door County. That’s baptism by fire, but it was a productive meeting. It would eventually lead to a permanently protected corridor for the Ice Age Trail 12 years later! Talk about patience. Continue reading →
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.
Strung like pearls along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail’s winding route are both beautiful and geologically significant properties owned by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Take, for example, the Marimor Preserve, in Taylor County, known for hosting one of the state’s finest examples of a terminal moraine. Another is the Moraine-Outwash Preserve in Langlade County – it offers spectacular views across the Antigo Flats and illustrates its name-sake glacial feature. And then, the Muir Preserve, in Marquette County, which protects the area surrounding John Muir’s boyhood homestead, allowing Wisconsinites better to appreciate the land’s hold and influence on Muir.
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!
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.
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.
By Sevie Kenyon, volunteer writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
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.
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.
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.
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 nearIce Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.
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.
By Amy Lord, Education and Outreach Manager & Eric Sherman, Membership and Grants Coordinator
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 →
Like the witch-hazel flowers that dazzle in autumn as its leaves fall to the ground, the 2020 Reconnect Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season had a final flourish before settling in for winter. We all needed a bright spot this year, and Mother Nature provided plenty of brilliance during the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event. The weather, the leaves, the volunteers were perfect.
It was a much-needed respite from the unsettled “real” world. Bad news only came when your name was called to help move rotten granite. Continue reading →
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.
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.
By Eva Ballering, Land Steward at the Ice Age Trail Alliance
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.
By J.J. King, Ice Age Trail Hiker and Proud Thousand-Miler
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 →
By Aberdeen Leary, Ice Age Trail Alliance Outreach, Education, & Engagement Program Intern
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!
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.
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.
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.