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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Cultivate New Skills at IAT-U

The green and blue of July are highlighted along the Emmons Creek Segment of the Ice Age Trail. (Photo by Cameron Gillie)

June is gone with the wind, and with the solstice behind us summer in Wisconsin is in full swing. From St. Croix Falls to Potawatomi State Park, wildflowers are in bloom and green blankets the glaciated landscapes along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. July is a time for growing and cultivating, only to reap what we’ve sowed in weeks to come.

You’re invited to participate in Ice Age Trail University, a four-day educational event (July 18 – 21) filled with knowledge, inspiration, and solutions to challenges we face on the Trail.

Grow and cultivate new skills to carry with you and share with others for the rest of your seasons on the Ice Age Trail. Community, dedication, and hands on experience is what keeps our shared vision of the Ice Age National Scenic vision alive and well.

Join us at IAT-U to learn from seasoned and committed volunteers and staff what makes the Ice Age Trail what it is – and what it can be. Continue reading

Trailbuilding Results: Audacious. Sustainable. Inspiring.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Interpretive Site

A volunteer helps build a brand new portion of the Ice Age Trail on the Cross Plains Ice Age Interpretive Site Thursday on the second day of the five-day Mobile Skills Crew event. (Photo by Cameron Gillie-www.aroundwisco.com)

165 volunteers over the course of 3,751 hours helped create audacious, sustainable, inspiring results! 

The physical highlights – sandstone outcrops, windswept views for miles, a glacial story carved in stone, timber retaining walls, a 48-ft Bridge, two elevated boardwalks, and thousands of feet of artfully crafted trail wending harmoniously with and across the landscape – will surely be appreciated for generations to come.

Less apparent are the quiet keys to success; your dedication, your selfless teamwork, and the way in which you cheerfully stuck with what must have felt, at times, like thankless, but no less important, tasks.

Thank you!  We are grateful for all you did to create a masterful new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail!

As we head into the July 4th weekend, there is much to celebrate! Bring your friends and family out to this new section of Trail and show them what a force for good and a collaborative spirit can create!

Download a Project Outcomes map to get a better sense of where the progress is being made for this multi-year project.

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Volunteer Spotlight – Gerald “Buzz” Meyer

Buzz immersed in a good-natured story. Anyone who’s worked with Buzz or accepted a shuttle from him knows he’s a masterful storyteller. Photo by Jo Ellarson.

Article by guest writer, Erika Cannaday

Gerald “Buzz” Meyer’s commitment to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail started with an article in the Star News. One bright morning, in 1990, while paging through the paper, he read about a hike on the Timm’s Hill Trail. While it wasn’t part of the Ice Age Trail, it would become a National Scenic Side Trail. The event was a fundraiser for the High Point Chapter. He decided to participate and set out gathering sponsors, raising somewhere between $50 and $100. After a few years of minimal commitment, he was asked to help out at one of the Chapter’s trail improvement days. Ten years later when Bob Rusch, the Chapter’s volunteer coordinator stepped down, Buzz took on the role he’s now held for nearly twenty years. Continue reading

The Story Continues…

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Interpretive Site, Mobile Skills Crew event,

A volunteer trailbuilding crew uses their “trail eyes” to assess progress on a new section of tread. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Had the World Trails Network (WTN) existed when Ray Zillmer traveled the state talking with farmers, politicians and the movers and shakers of the day about his vision to create a “Glacial National Park” in Wisconsin, maybe Ray would have borrowed these lines from the WTN Trail Manifesto: “trail is our story…our answers lie not at the end but on the way…every trail makes a life.”

A long-awaited section of new Ice Age Trail is ready to open in Dane County. We just need you! Join us and be part of our trail story. Continue reading

9 Boardwalks and 1.4 Miles of New Trail!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew event, Trailbuilding

One of the nine boardwalks constructed along the newly opened 1.4 miles of Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Photo by Gail Piotrowski.

For more than 40 years, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail passed through a parcel of private land, squeezing between a shed and a house on the Ringle Segment. Thanks to your help, the Trail is now open; wending through a more scenic setting, bypassing private property, and is permanently protected.

Thanks to the 172 volunteers who contributed 3,124 hours helping to open 1.4 miles of new Trail that includes 9 new boardwalks totaling 514 feet, dozens of painted blazes, well-crafted tread, and durable stonework tossed in for good measure.

Download a Project Outcomes map to get a better sense of where the progress is being made for this multi-year project.

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Cross Plains Will Soon Host a New Segment of Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Cross Plains Conservancy, Mobile Skills Crew event

Sandstone rock outcroppings will soon be given their due. Corridor clearing for new Ice Age Trail will highlight these lovely landscape features. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Trailbuilding Event & Celebration
Cross Plains Segment
August 8 – 12, 2018
Dane County
Project Area Map [PDF]

Light the Candles for a mile of NEW Ice Age Trail, the 50th anniversary of the National Trails System Act, and the 60th birthday of the Ice Age Trail Alliance!!!

It’s not often we get to rub shoulders with the folks who will benefit most directly from our efforts. Yet, trailbuilding in collaboration with a Trail Community affords us this opportunity. Week-long, we’ll gather with residents of the Village of Cross Plains, sustainable farming practitioners, outdoor retailers, elected officials and other trail enthusiasts from near and far to celebrate the splendor and diversity of Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail, and the soul shaking experience of all stripes of people of all ages and all walks of life coming together over the span of 60 years to make real a shared vision for long distance hiking, conservation, and community. Continue reading

Mudbrook Bridge Ready for Summer Hiking

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Harwood Lakes Mobile Skills Crew event, MSC

Volunteers working on the Harwood Lakes Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail make phenomenal progress as they build a new bridge across the marsh. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Sometimes the best person to summarize a project’s outcome is the boots-on-the-ground chapter leader who was involved with every aspect. Richard Smith offers this recap of the Harwood Lakes MSC event:

“The newly constructed Mudbrook bridge midway between Plummer Lake Road and Deer Fly Trail offers a spectacular view of the wetland in the Mudbrook floodplain, and provides a solid and dry passage through the area. It replaces a bridge and rickety boardwalk conglomeration that has traversed the combination of wetland and beaver dams and which was well beyond “end of life.” Continue reading

3,000 Feet of Hard-Won Tread!

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

Hard-won tread now winds through Marathon County along the rerouted Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Massive undertakings are best tackled in small bites. Thanks to those who joined  us at the Ringle Segment Mobile Skills Crew event, that small bite resulted in more than 3,000 feet of new, hard-won tread anchoring phase two of the revamped Ringle Segment. In addition, a new Dispersed Camping Area opened along a 28.5-mile road walk in southern Marathon County. Continue reading

Crew Leadership and Skills Training is Now Open!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Crew Leadership Training, Mobile Skills Crew Season 2018

Crew Leaders actively participate and provide hands-on training while leading their crews.     Photos by Cameron Gillie of ThePinholething.com

Applications are being accepted!

How do you engage 1,200 volunteers and steadily raise the bar of an award-winning trail program? With terrific volunteer leadership!

Attendance at this training requires a short application which can be found here. Applications are due by March 31 and will be reviewed shortly thereafter, with admittance confirmation issued by April 7. (Completed applications should be emailed to Tim Malzhan, Director of Trail Operations.) Continue reading

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

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

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

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

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

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

Make Friends, Raise Awareness

The Ice Age Trail staffs a food tent at the Wisconsin Farm Technology Days

Hiking at the edge of a pasture.
Photo credit: Rachel Roberts, IAT volunteer

Farm Technology Days  is our chance to feed the farmers who traditionally feed us.

Farm Technology Days (FTD) begins Tuesday, July 11th and runs through Thursday, July 13th. This fundraising opportunity, for the Trail, is about making friends, providing a crucial service, and raising awareness. It’s important to foster a friendly alliance within the farming community; numerous Ice Age Trail segments run alongside swaths of farmland.

While, fences make good neighbors, so does reaching out and being friendly. Let’s be neighborly. Continue reading

Get Out & Give Back – May 20th & 21st

Trail Happenings!

Photo by Dave Caliebe

GET OUT: Hikes

Boost your happiness; immerse yourself in a healthy dose of nature (vitamin Green!).

Dane County Chapter, Cross Plains Segment: Birding Hike

Early spring mornings are the time to see and hear migrating and newly-arrived birds of the woodlands, savanna and prairie habitats along the loop in the highlands above Cross Plains. Bring binoculars; hike leader will help identify avian friends! Continue reading

A Mammoth Invitation to Reimagine

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew 2017

“The newly re-routed Ice Age Trail segment is designed to be an attractive walk. This initial 1.5 miles of trail will meander across rolling terrain filled with big oaks. These old trees create a dramatic over-story and help highlight impressive glacial features like large erratics and boulder fields,” stated Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Specialist. Photo by Tim Malzhan

Life’s transformative events might stew and brew for years until one day…poof; we turn around and find our very being has expanded in ways we could barely imagine.

The reimagining of the Ringle Segment is one such transformative event for the Ice Age Trail.  Here, spring peepers chorus, wolves roam, trillium bloom, and rock, as all farmers, geologists, and trail builders know, begets rock.

For those who embrace bringing landscape stories to life, Ringle is a legacy event. Continue reading

A Phenomenal Kick Off to the 2017 MSC Season!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Soul Shakedown MSC event, Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Brand new trail under construction on the Walla Hi Segment. Photo by Brad Crary

Whew! That’s one way to kick off the trailbuilding season.  2 days, 3 events, 146 volunteers, and 1,994 hours dedicated to enhancing the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Thank you to everyone who came out for the first Soul Shakedown of the year!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Walla Hi Segment, Soul Shakedown MSC

Ground work has been laid for ongoing tread construction on the Walla Hi Segment.  Photo by Brad Crary

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Voulez-vous Rendezvous?

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Winter Rendezvous 2017

Enjoying a winter wonderland during the Winter Rendezvous.
[Photo by David Caliebe]

It’s time for the Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew Winter Rendezvous – a social gathering for anyone interested in volunteering for, hiking on, or learning more about  the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

The 2017 trailbuilding season starter’s whistle is ready to blow; all that’s missing is you.

Please join us and choose from expanded Rendezvous options at beautiful Treehaven, a UW-Stevens Point facility near Tomahawk. Continue reading

Phenomenal Trailbuilding Accomplished at Dueling Mobile Skills Crew Projects

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Mobile Skills Crew Event 2016

Perfect fall weather created ideal working conditions for #TeamMerrimac and #TeamRibLake. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.

The 2016 Mobile Skills Crew “Stones and Ripples” tour ended in triumph at two project sites. Thanks to the combined efforts of 180 volunteers and a whopping 3,222 volunteer hours, a phenomenal amount of work was accomplished – and finished ahead of schedule.

A sense of community and collaboration formed between the two projects through a good-natured social media duel featuring each team’s creativity and trailbuilding skills. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Season Finale

Photo credit: Dave Caliebe

What to do when the best laid plans hit a snag? As all seasoned volunteers know…with eyes forward, you shift on a dime and give it all you’ve got!

The planned Storrs Lake project in Rock County is on hold for 2016, regrettably. This change of plans, therefore, enables us to finish what we’ve started, which we strive to do. This mindset led us to organize two Mobile Skills Crew events which will run concurrently from Thursday, October 20 through Sunday, October 23.

The Sauk County event (Merrimac Segment) will build 3,600 feet of tread that was corridor cleared at the August event. The Taylor County event (Rib Lake Segment) will focus on finishing up work began in May on the Timm’s Hill Trail Connector. (The Sauk County project will be the larger of the two events.) Continue reading