A Force of Nature Leads the Way

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, A Force of Nature, REI Corporate Partner, Pat Witkowski

A Force of Nature: Pat Witkowski. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.

In August I ran 302 miles. At least half of those miles were on trails, many of them on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Over the 45 hours that I spent on my feet covering ground, strengthening my body and conditioning my mind, my thoughts often wandered toward the very concept of trails. Carved out of the forest and prairies, trails are not static, one-time projects. They are living, breathing entities needing to be maintained and loved, long after they are created. Continue reading

Be EMPOWERED – Saturday, March 10, 2018

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Be Empowered, REI corporate partner

Be Adventurous. Pick up a set of clippers and wrestle buckthorn to the ground. Here, Jo – one of the most enthusiastic volunteers you’ll ever meet – drills holes to assemble a boardwalk. Photo by David Lonsdorf.

Be Giving. Give back to Mother Nature who nurtures you. We’ll arm you with handsaws and clippers for removing invasive buckthorn. Permanent protection of the Ice Age Trail also involves the responsible management of Alliance owned land. There is a season for everything and winter is a great time to tackle invasive species and burn piles of brush.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Be Empowered, Trailtessa, Force of Nature, REI corporate partner

Be Brave. Step out on a bright, cold winter’s day. Truth – confronting days forge badassery. Winter shimmers in hillside hike up to the Steenbock Preserve. Photo by Lysianne Unruh.

Be Crucial. Help unveil the beauty of the Steenbock Preserve. Volunteers are faithfully restoring the land to a mix of oak and prairie savanna. Mother Nature won’t disappoint. Here, the Trail winds its way up, over 200 feet above Lake Wisconsin, and provides majestic views of the lower Wisconsin Riverway and beyond to the Baraboo range.

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Be Empowered, Trailtessa, Force of Nature, REI corporate partner

Winter bonfires burn brush collected during summer season Trail stewardship days. Photo by Lysianne Unruh.

We promise bonfires and you’ll work side-by-side with one of the most dedicated Trail enthusiasts you’ll ever meet, chainsaw certified, Joanne Ellarson and a formidable crew of female volunteers from the Dane County Chapter and the Lodi Valley Chapter.

Be EMPOWERED Event Details:

10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m. (Arrive by 9:45 a.m. for signing in and getting equipment registered to you. You’ll hike in as a group to the work site.)

No experience is necessary and there’s a role for volunteers of all ages and abilities…bring the family! Training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders.

Your participation is welcome for any amount of time you can give. Come for some portion or stay all day, whatever suits you best.

Lunch provided on site. Expect a baked potato bar and veggie/vegan/GF chili.

Park at Merrimac Ferry and hike up to Steenbock Preserve.

Dress warmly and in layers. Even in winter, trail stewardship efforts can have you breaking a sweat.

NOTE: The Gibraltar Rock Segment for the Be EMPOWERED event is located in COLUMBIA COUNTY.

Limit: 50 women ages 14 and above.

Gibraltar Rock Segment description from 2017-2019 Guidebook [PDF]
Gibraltar Rock Segment map from 2017-2019 Atlas [PDF]

Our GENEROUS sponsors for this Be EMPOWERED event – Thank You!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, REI Co-Op, Corporate Partners, Shop local


A Match Made in…Wisconsin

Seek Dry Goods founders Larry & Amanda McMahon with Kingsley on the Ice Age Trail

Seek Dry Goods and the Ice Age Trail Alliance are proud to announce an official three-year partnership. Beginning in Spring 2018, Seek Dry Goods will design and produce clothing and accessories for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, donating a portion of all proceeds directly back to support the Trail.  The collaborative products will celebrate both the history and character of the iconic 1,000+ mile Ice Age Trail.  “We couldn’t be more excited about this partnership” said Seek Dry Goods Co-Founder Larry McMahon “Both of our organizations are based right here in Wisconsin, share a passion for the outdoors and are committed to protecting our public lands for future generations to enjoy.” In addition to collaborative products, Seek Dry Goods will attend and support several Ice Age Trail Alliance events throughout the year, from trail maintenance to the Alliance’s annual conference. “The Ice Age Trail is built through partnerships. As a corporate sponsor, Seek Dry Goods is helping advance the Trail and the Alliance. We couldn’t be happier to have a Wisconsin company, the quality of Seek Dry Goods, supporting our work.” shared Luke Kloberdanz, IATA Director of Philanthropy. “We are regulars on the trail, so it’s a great feeling to be able to give back to something that has given so much to us (and our dog, Kingsley),” said Seek Dry Goods Co-Founder Amanda McMahon.

Sign up for our mailing list at www.seekdrygoods.com or follow @seekdrygoods on Instagram and Facebook to be the first to know when our collaborative products become available and where you can find them!

About the Ice Age Trail 

Sculpted by retreating glacial ice, The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,000-mile footpath that features an amazingly diverse landscape through the heart of Wisconsin. More than 1 million people use this trail every year as they hike, ski, snowshoe and backpack along the route.

The Ice Age Trail is one of 11 recognized National Scenic Trails, which is supported and maintained by the Ice Age Trail Alliance, and is funded through a cadre of supporters including foundations, corporations and governmental partners. The Alliance has attracted a vibrant community of over 2,700 volunteers across the state, who volunteer their time and resources to improve and maintain the trail network.

About Seek Dry Goods

Seek Dry Goods is a Wisconsin-based outdoor lifestyle brand, committed to developing responsibly sourced clothing and accessories.  Partnering with artists from around the world, who share a passion for the outdoors, Seek Dry Goods creates authentic and inspiring outdoor adventure designs.

The name Seek was derived from the company’s core customer, known as “Seekers.”  A Seeker is someone who is passionate and obsessive about the outdoors.  Seekers are never satisfied and are always seeking the next adventure.

Holiday Shopping Supports the Trail!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Corporate Parnters, shop local Black Friday. Small Business Saturday. Cyber Monday.

The days following Thanksgiving kick off a spree of themed days aimed at encouraging you to buy, buy, buy during the holiday season.

You’ll be pleased to know, your holiday spending can support the Ice Age Trail whether you shop at brick and mortar stores or with a click of your mouse. Continue reading

Motorized Vehicles on the Ice Age Trail?

If you’re NOT a fan of this idea then help the Wisconsin DNR shape their plans!

Otherwise, Ice Age Trail users, like you, will frequently encounter bikes, ATVs and other less-compatible forms of recreation while out and about in your favorite outdoor natural area, park, or trail.

Though there are plenty of places where these motorized uses may occur on state lands, certain properties should be held for quiet recreation, such as trail hiking. Continue reading

Be LUCKY – Saturday, February 3, 2018

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Trailtessa, Ice Age Trail, Force of Nature, REI Corporate Partner

Be Lucky. You’ll feel like the luckiest woman on earth as you snowshoe through a blanket of sparkling snow (fingers crossed!) along the Straight Lake Segment in Polk County. Photo by Cheryl Whitman.

Be Community. Warm your heart and bring your tribe. Come ready to meet new friends and deepen friendship with those you’ve known a long time. Winter hiking keeps you connected to the simple things in life: health and vigor; home and tribe. Continue reading

Collaboration Yields New Ice Age Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Bloomer High School Senior Class

The Bloomer High School Senior class spent a day giving back to their community through their trailbuilding efforts. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Entire tomes of poetry have been written about picturesque autumn days such as the ones enjoyed at last week’s Mobile Skills Crew event. But the heart of the story lies in the collaboration the Ice Age National Scenic Trail enables. Continue reading

Be Free – Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Be Free, Trailtessa, Force of Nature, REI Corporate partner, Organic Valley corporate partner

Be Free. Stride out the door – no looking back. Be Determined. Put yourself first, for a morning, a day, and maybe forever. And that’s a good thing. Photo by Carrie Highman-Dream Lens Media.

Be Strong. Crisp fall mornings – blue sky, sparkly frost – are made for trail running. Run away and come home to yourself. Immerse yourself in the beauty of restored prairies as you bound along the Trail. Expanded lungs, expanding possibilities.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Be Free, Trailtessa, Force of Nature, REI corporate partner, Organic Valley corporate partner

Be Self-Care. Running is great for that. Jonnah Perkins, a busy mom of two, makes time to run in her happy place, the foot hills of the Baraboo Bluffs. Photo by Jesse Perkins.

Ultrarunner, Jonnah Perkins, a podium regular who competes in 50K, 50-Mile, and 100K races in Wisconsin and the West Coast, will introduce you to a hidden gem: The Verona Segment in Dane County. This suburban segment makes good use of three county parks and links up to a variety of additional hiking and biking trails.

She’ll be joined by seasoned trail runner and Yogi, Brenda Bland (currently teaching yoga with the YMCA), who has fourteen 100-mile races under her belt, including Leadville Trail 100. Nora Bird, running coach behind Team Bird Training will also add to the available expertise. She competes in ultramarathons in the Midwest and around the country including Leadville 100 and Wasatch 100. Nora loves helping women find their passion on the trail.

Runners Kelly Tyrrell and Lysianne Unruh will round out the support so no one is left behind and we all have fun.

Kelly is a science writer and has competed in several 50K and 50-mile races in Wisconsin, including finishing 3rd female at the Ice Age 50 in 2017. Her first 50-mile race was in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado. Lysianne, IATA staff member and life coach, is a happy, mid-pack runner who accidentally signs up for 50K races while sipping chardonnay and paging through Trail Runner magazine.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Force of Nature, Trailtessa, Be Free

Be Delighted. Kelly Tyrrell, surrounded by a sea of green, hits the trail on an early season run.

Welcoming both beginners and seasoned trail runners, a 3.5-mile loop or a 6.5-mile distance is available. An easy pace will be set and no one will be left behind.

Jonnah, Brenda, Nora, Kelly, and Lysianne will share stories about why they love running, why the Ice Age Trail inspires them, and answer questions about trail running, once we’re all back at the shelter.

Celebratory refueling snacks available at the end of the run provided in part by Organic Valley, especially their Mighty products made with 100% organic beef. Yumbutter will also be on the premises with their mouth-rockin’, world-changing nut butters.  One Barrel Brewing Company will have beer on hand for you too, and Wigwam will be giving away a pair of free socks to each participant!

NOTE: Runners, please wear Blaze Orange and bring a change of warm clothes for post-run yoga/stories/celebration.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Be Free, Trailtessa, REI Force of Nature

Be a Leader. Brenda Bland leads the pack out of the woods at the Voyager 50 Mile Trail Race.

Be FREE Schedule:

6.5-Mile Distance

9:00 a.m. check-in at Holiday Inn Express, 515 W. Verona Avenue, Verona, WI

9:45 a.m. bus ride to the Start (PD – Ice Age Junction Area) for runners running 6.5 miles.

10:00 a.m. Start

11:00 a.m. – 11:40 a.m. arrive at end point (Wesner Road) where the bus will take 6.5-mile distance runners back to Badger Prairie Park.

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. everyone back for mini-celebration

3.5-Mile Distance

9:00 a.m. check-in at Holiday Inn Express, 515 W. Verona Avenue, Verona, WI

9:45 a.m. Start (leave from the shelter to run the 3.5 mile loop)

10:15 a.m. – 10: 45 a.m.  arrive back at Shelter 1, Badger Prairie Park board bus back to hotel

10:30 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. Yoga for Runners yoga session led by Brenda Bland

12:00 p.m. – 1:00 p.m. everyone back for mini-celebration

NOTE: The Verona Segment for the Be FREE event is located in DANE COUNTY.

Limit 80 women ages 16 and above!


Verona Segment description from 2017-2019 Guidebook pages [PDF]

Verona Segment map from 2017-2019 Atlas [PDF]


 Our GENEROUS corporate partners – Thank YOU!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, REI CO-OP corporate partner, Mobile Skills Crew program 2017
 Yumbutter, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Trailtessa, Force of Nature

2018 Regional Rallies – Save the Dates!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Regional Rally, Regional Rallies

Regional volunteer chapter members gather to celebrate successes, share ideas, and benefit from collaboration. Photo by Brad Crary.

Each fall the Ice Age Trail Alliance hosts Regional Rallies to bring together volunteers from across the state for planning, training, and collaboration. These events are excellent opportunities to learn what it takes to create a world class hiking trail and get involved locally.

Participants will hear the latest updates from the Alliance, share chapter successes, and begin planning for 2019 local and regional events. Lunch is provided.

To see a map of all three Regional Rally locations, click here.

Saturday, November 3rd – Chippewa County
Sunday, November 4th – Waupaca County
Saturday, November 10th – Rock County Continue reading

The Northwoods Are Calling: Crisp air, colorful trees, and trailbuilding!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC Mammoth

Spring arrived early enabling a hardy group of volunteers to clear corridor and grub out stumps in anticipation of October’s MSC event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

The trees of the Northwoods are beginning to turn red and gold and, as we say good-bye to summer, a new beginning lies ahead for the Firth Lake Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Due to the expansion of an All-Terrain Vehicle trail in the Chippewa County Forest, to ensure a non-motorized experience for users of the Ice Age Trail, we are building a newly designed 1.7 miles of improved Ice Age Trail. Change can be a good thing. Continue reading

Be a Nature Princess … At Any Age!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Force of Nature, Trailtessa Retreats

Be Fanciful. Be a Force of Nature. Be a Nature Princess…at any age! Make a crown, dust off your boots, and come explore the wild kingdom on the Dunes Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Woodland Dunes Nature Center staff.

Be Adventurous. Do Princesses climb trees and get dirty? Absolutely. This program, inspired by the children’s book, “Do Princesses Wear Hiking Boots?”, is designed to be a royally good time, packed with opportunities to get out and get messy. Continue reading

Backpacking the Ice Age Trail

We’ve hit our group-size limit for this event. We hope you’ll join us next time!


Join us for a 4-day backpacking trip in one of the most pristine sections of the Ice Age Trail – the Chequamegon National Forest. This outing is a collaboration of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and the Verona Ice Age Trail Community.

Trip Details

Dates: Monday, September 18th – Thursday, September 21, 2017 (departing at 7:30 a.m. from the Old County Road PB park & ride in Verona) Continue reading

348 Feet of Boardwalk in 3 Days?

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Clover Valley MSCConstruct a 348-foot-long boardwalk in three days? No problem! Volunteers quickly gained experience as they rotated between crews. This rotation gave everyone the opportunity to learn the necessary skills and to fill in seamlessly wherever someone was needed. Adding to the remarkable pace was the knowledge and previous experience of nine volunteers who had taken part in a boardwalk training earlier in the summer. The seeds planted at the boardwalk training visibly sprouted at Clover Valley and are emerging along the Trail. Continue reading

Help Build Sustainable Trails in Walla Hi!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Walla Hi County Park, Mobile Skills Crew Program

Yellow pin flags mark the center line along the route of the new Ice Age National Scenic Trail as it travels through Walla Hi County Park in Manitowoc County. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Walla Hi County Park in Manitowoc County is home to undulating terrain formed as continental-sized loads of rock and soil, carried by two massive lobes of ice, met and co-mingled. The resulting 125-mile interlobate Kettle Moraine rises in a topographic swell more typically associated with the Adirondack Mountains. This dramatic expression of glacial landscape will soon host nearly 2 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Sustainably built trails, following natural contours of the park, will highlight the impressive rugged beauty of the region. Continue reading

Be HAPPY – September 23, 2017

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Trailtessa, Be Happy, Force of Nature, REI Corporate Partner

Be Relaxed. Join us for a casual afternoon hike amidst the wildflowers and savor a farm-to-table dinner on the beautiful Table Bluff Segment of the Ice Age Trail. Photo by James Mills.

Fall is a luscious time on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Experience the legendary beauty of the Table Bluff Segment with its restored prairie and oak savannah. You’ll exhale a stressful week as you absorb the breath-taking, 360 views well above the valley floor below. Continue reading

Volunteers Open 1.7-mile of Trail

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ringle Segment, Mobile Skills Crew Event

Volunteers relax in the warmth of a campfire after a day of trailbuilding. Photo by Cameron Gillie.

A sense of amazement coursed through the volunteers circling the campfire every time a streak of light from the Perseid meteor shower shot across the sky – nature’s fireworks for millennia. Those shooting stars are like the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew event volunteers who came together in a brilliant stroke of skill, effort, and camaraderie and blasted through the work set in front of them. Continue reading

Welcome to the Party!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Manitowoc-Two Rivers Trail Community

It’s official! Luke Kloberdanz, Director of Outreach and Education for the Ice Age Trail Alliance, looks on as Greg Buckley, Two Rivers City Manager, and Justin Nickels, Manitowoc Mayor, cut the ribbon designating their cities as official Trail Communities. These attractive signs will grace the entrances to each city. Photo by Dolly McNulty.

Manitowoc and Two Rivers, we’re thrilled to have you join the Ice Age Trail Community family!

Hikers! Take a look at our Trail Communities for ways to appreciate the towns you’re hiking through. The Manitowoc and Two Rivers area have the only segments of Trail that put your toes into Lake Michigan waters. You’ll find maps of the Trail (and area segments) making it easy for you to follow the path as it winds through each city. There’s plenty of suggestions, too, for how to extend your stay in a fun and memorable way. Oh, and don’t forget to hit the Washington House for an ice cream sundae. After all, the first sundae in the world was made there!

Volunteers “Amp Up” the Lake 11 Project

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Lake Eleven Project

A project beginning with a small, focused premise, grew quickly as seasoned Trail Eyes broadened the perspective (recognizing additional underlying issues could be addressed with the robust crew on hand). Replacing a footbridge with a 36-foot-long state-of-the-art bridge, designed to last 50 years, was not enough; two critical trail reroutes were added, then a third. Signage upgrades covered a mile and trail maintenance with mowers, weed whackers, and chainsaws extended for an additional three miles of Trail.

A similar expansion occurred with the 88 volunteers at the event. With every tree grubbed, blaze painted, swing of the pick mattock, and sandwich prepared, the individuals completing these tasks became an integral member of this trailbuilding community and helped “amp up” the project. The team went above and beyond, cranking it to 11, Lake 11 that is. Continue reading

A First in the Fourth

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mike Summers Winter 2017 thru-hike

The all too familiar icicles of winter hiking. Photo by Mike Summers.

by guest writer Mike Summers

I crunched up the snow-covered remnants of the Niagra Escarpment in Wisconsin’s Potowatomi State Park on a sunny, 32-degree December day. My westbound thru-hike of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) had begun, and I had no idea what I was getting myself into.

Neither did anyone else.

No one had attempted a self-supported thru-hike in the winter months, and many thought it a little strange to try.* But for me, the dreaded “fourth season” of backpacking invoked not fear, but intrigue. This hike would be a test to see if I really enjoyed backpacking, even in the most unforgiving of conditions. Continue reading

A Bold Attempt

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Jonnah Perkins ultrafarmer guest writer

Wet spring trails greeted Annie Weiss as she traveled through the Northwoods.
Photo by Long Nguyen.

by guest writer Jonnah Perkins

When you mention the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, most people picture the civilized, buffed out trails of the southern and eastern segments. These trails are heavily trafficked by runners and hikers, flocking to the beauty of the forest, from Milwaukee, Madison, and Chicago. Farther up in the northern part of the state, there are wild, remote sections of trail many would not imagine could be found in Wisconsin.

This adventure is exactly what ultrarunner Annie Weiss was after when planning an attempt to break the fastest known time (FKT) on the Ice Age Trail. The personal time-trial-trend is growing in popularity in the ultrarunning community. Setting a new FKT, or even pursuing one, is a coveted notch on the belt of ultrarunners. On May 1st, Annie set out to complete the roughly 1,200 miles of the trail system in 19 days. That’s three days ahead of the current record of 22 days and 6 hours set by Jason Dorgan in 2007. This meant Annie would need to average over 60 miles per day to meet her goal. When I talked with Annie a few weeks ahead of her departure, she was brimming with optimism and a healthy dose of trepidation for completing her plan, especially the northern segments. Continue reading

Help Open New Trail in Marathon County!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Northland College, Mobile Skills Crew project

Students and their professor from a Northland College summer geology class formed a dynamic team with crew leader Ruth McCann.
Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Fresh spring energy unleased in May wove its way through 2,539 volunteer hours and materialized into recognizable magic in the geologic “Landscape Crossroads” of Marathon County.

Join us as Trail friends continue to shape tread and bring boulders to rest in retaining walls. This renewed August effort will open 1.7 miles of brand new trail. Continue reading

Lake Eleven Bridge Building Project

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Event

The work site where the new 35-foot clear span bridge will be constructed and installed.
Photo by Tim Malzhan

Deep in the velvety silence of the Chequamegon National Forest, gnarled trees remind us of the power nature unleashed 15 years ago when the Gilman tornado touched down and chewed through 4,000 acres of forested land, of which 900 acres were approaching old growth status.

Here is where the Ice Age Trail Lake Eleven Segment crosses a stream via an aged pedestrian bridge, declared “unsafe” four years ago. Now, we’re constructing a new 35-foot clear span bridge designed to last 50 or more years.

Join us for this mid-summer adventure where daytime industry meets campfire conversation and flickering fireflies. Continue reading

There is no IAT-U without … YOU!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail University, IAT-U

Photo by Michael Maziarka

The secret sauce of our wildly successful and award-winning Mobile Skills Crew program?

Well-trained volunteers. Absolutely.

When the Mobile Skills Crew trailer pulls up to a work site, the flurry of activity that follows is nothing short of astounding. Tents are set up, meals are cooked, trails are built and boardwalks constructed. Much of what is accomplished, over the course of a few days, happens, in part, because the Ice Age Trail Alliance staff is able to rely on knowledgeable, capable volunteers. Individuals who have raised their hands and said “YES” to learning new skills or deepening their existing capabilities in service of the Trail. Continue reading

Cross Plains Celebrates the Ice Age Trail

The Cross Plains Segment shows off its best summer look. Photo Credit: Lou Ann Novak

In 2017 the Village of Cross Plains became one of eight Ice Age Trail Communities. This designation is more than a sign on the highway and a ribbon cutting. It is an invitation to use the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to celebrate the local culture, history, landscape, and businesses.

This July 14 and 15 the Village, in collaboration with the Cross Plains Chamber of Commerce, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Dane County Chapter, will be taking up the invitation to celebrate! Continue reading