Fresh Tread in a Storybook Setting

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Rib Lake Segment MSC, Taylor County
Volunteers work together to maneuver a boulder into place for what will become a set of stone steps. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
The Ice Age Trail brings all sorts of folks together, and this MSC event was no exception. First-time volunteers, New Vision Wilderness students, a pair of TikTok celebrities (their Instagram handle is “thruhikers”), and a long-distance hiker passing through joined seasoned trailbuilders as they cut fresh tread on the Rib Lake Segment. This confluence of novelty and experience resulted in more than 3,000 feet of completed trail, with a generous head start on another 1,000 feet!

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A Long-Awaited, 350-foot Lodi Marsh Boardwalk is Complete!

Volunteers wasted no time utilizing built sections of the boardwalk to more easily navigate the marsh as they finished construction. Photo by Riley Dupee.
Volunteers wasted no time utilizing built sections of the boardwalk to more easily navigate the marsh as they finished construction. Photo by Riley Dupee.
In typical April fashion, 40 volunteers experienced all four seasons over three workdays. Each day brought a surprise. Would it rain or snow? Who would lose a boot to the marsh? The only thing volunteers knew for certain: two-inch thick, white oak deck boards are heavier than they look. Nevertheless, they tackled it all with good humor – laughter was as common a sound as the squelching of muck boots.

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Volunteers Braved Cold, Wind, and Ice to Help Make the Ice Age Trail More Scenic

Volunteers of all ages bundled up and came out to help with habitat management events along the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
Volunteers of all ages bundled up and came out to help with habitat management events along the Ice Age Trail. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
Volunteers braved classic Wisconsin winter conditions – frigid temperatures, icy terrain, and steady wind – during the Alliance’s habitat management events in recent weeks.

Winter is an excellent time for cutting and burning. Snow cover offers relatively safe burning of brush piles, and the cold temps prevent sawyers from overheating.

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2021: A Successful Trailbuilding & Stewardship Season!

One of our skilled sawyer Mobile Skills Crew volunteers, Anne Helsley-Marchbanks. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
One of our skilled sawyer Mobile Skills Crew volunteers, Anne Helsley-Marchbanks. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After months of uncertainty, the familiar smiles of volunteers returned in a big way as 2021 progressed. Small events at the beginning of the year built toward the return of our large-scale projects. Despite shifting circumstances, trust quickly emerged as the season theme. Trust the plan. Trust Crew Leaders to lead. Trust volunteers to work carefully. Trust the skills, dedication, and passion of everyone who showed up to an event. As a result, we greeted August with a rousing return to near normalcy – hosting almost 100 volunteers and spanning two segments – that added three new miles of Trail in Dane County. A few months later, the ribbon (and cake) was cut on the newly minted Ringle Segment, an achievement worthy of a year filled with smiles.

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After Five Years, the Reimagined Ringle Segment is Complete

Granite boulders are a common sight along the reimagined Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Granite boulders are a common sight along the reimagined Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Saying thank you feels insufficient compared to the accomplishment’s scale: opening the seven-mile section of the reimaginged Ringle Segment. Hewn from rocky ground, every hour you invested in this five-year project forged a world-class section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Right in our backyard, your selfless dedication created a lasting legacy. We spend our lives working toward achievements in which we take pride. If we’re fortunate, we may create something that lives beyond us. In this case, a signature segment contributing to the health and happiness of people we may never meet.

Be proud of the work you’ve done and what you’ve helped accomplish.

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A Successful Year of Trailtessa Events Planned by Women for Women

2021 Trailtessa events brought women together virtually, in-person, and even in the wilderness. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
2021 Trailtessa events brought women together virtually, in-person, and even in the wilderness. Photo by Justine Kapitzke.
A blend of on-your-own hikes and virtual events kicked off Trailtessa events in 2021. Our planning focused on slowing the spread of COVID-19 and keeping participants safe. Happily, many new and seasoned Trailtessa attendees (325 in fact!) joined us for these adventures. As fall approached, we offered two outdoor in-person events, enabling participants to be together, build camaraderie, and still maintain social distance.

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Closed out Trailbuilding Season with Major Upgrades to Three Segments!

Volunteers prove that moving boardwalk is a group effort. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Volunteers prove that moving boardwalk is a group effort. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
At the confluence of great weather and great volunteers is a great project. In the case of this year’s Wildcard event, three projects on three segments.

Calls of “Coming through!” rang out as hikers passed through the work area. The heavy hiker traffic caused frequent but not unwelcome interruptions. “Holy sh*t!” one hiker exclaimed. “I was here a couple of days ago, and this wasn’t here.”

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New Section of Waterville Segment Replaces Busy Road Walk!

Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
2020 reawakened a love of the outdoors in many Wisconsinites. A perfect distillation of this excitement came from our Waterville Gap Campaign to help get the Trail off of a dangerous road walk in Waukesha County. The call to action went out in July of 2020, and by September we had exceeded our fundraising goal. In an astonishing show of grassroots philanthropy, the project was funded and purchased in under five months, and the new Trail opened in just over a year.

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Cheers to a Successful Weeding and Wine Event Series

Seeds from native prairie plants were collected in addition to weeding out invasive plant species at Weeding and Wine. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Seeds from native prairie plants were collected in addition to weeding out invasive plant species at Weeding and Wine. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
With fall rounding the corner, we bid farewell to long summer evenings, prairies in bloom and abuzz with pollinators, and weed pulling activities. It’s sad for all of us. As the days grow shorter, we can think back to the sunsets shared on Picnic Hill to get us through the darkness of winter.

Thank you to the 40 volunteers who contributed 142 hours in our first year of the Weeding & Wine Wednesday volunteer event series. Their dedication through rain or shine and positive attitudes made this season a great success.

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The Reimagined Ringle Segment is almost a Reality!

The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The less-than-stellar weather, coupled with a record hatch of mosquitos, attempted to slow down the 78 dedicated volunteers at the Ringle Trailbuilding event. Over four and a half days, and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, volunteers contributed 1,972 hours to open a beautiful new half-mile section of Trail. Volunteers cut and hauled lumber, built bridges, constructed rock walls, drafted blazes, crafted tread and slung rotten granite through the air via a highline to more easily – and safely – create a hardened walking surface through a moss-covered boulder field.

The stage is set, and with October rapidly approaching, we await the final act in the Reimagining of Ringle saga.

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Three New Miles of Trail in Dane County!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mammoth's Back Preserve, Valley View Segment, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew Events 2021
A crew of swampers pile brush in an effort to clear the corridor for a new section of Ice Age Trail along the Cross Plains Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Despite the sweltering heat and violent weather, two new Ice Age National Scenic Trail sections are open after a five-day Mobile Skills Crew Reconnect event. The efforts of 86 volunteers, donating 1,852 service hours, created a new path through Mammoth’s Back Preserve and more off-road hiking along the Valley View Segment. Each section is a work in progress and will require continued restoration. But, it is hard to overstate the value of three newly opened miles of Ice Age Trail in Dane County.

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A New Bridge Spans Sailor Creek!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sailor Creek Bridge, US Forest Service, Jerry Lake Segment
Volunteers cart soon-to-be repurposed deck boards to another location. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Perfect weather, minimal bugs, and a fantastic crew, made for quick work as the bridge over Sailor Creek rose from the mud like a lotus. The squelching of boots through curmudgeonly swamp accompanied the din of hammers, saws, and drills, as 20 volunteers came together to complete the 178-foot-long Forest Service structure. In just over three days, the Jerry Lake Project totaled over 500 service hours! “Big Spider Bridge” will allow for the safe crossing of Sailor Creek for the next half century.

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David Lonsdorf Receives Cherished Spirit Stick Award

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Spirit Stick Award, Dave Lonsdorf, David Lonsdorf, Dane County Chapter
David Lonsdorf, a member of Dane County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, was awarded the Spirit Stick; one of the highest honors bestowed by the Ice Age Trail Alliance. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
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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A One-Mile Section Becomes a Jewel

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding season
A newly built 311-foot-long boardwalk greets hikers as they emerge from the woods along the Montrose Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
After two days of sawdust-filled work preassembling frames and cutting deck boards, all hands were on deck to begin construction in the middle of the week. Over three days, despite challenging weather (Tuesday was cut short due to rain), 20 volunteers donated 351 hours of service to construct 311 feet of boardwalk and a 12-foot bridge. These structures offer easier passage for hikers across an area notorious for standing water and muddy conditions.

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Highlighting the Glacial Beauty of the Blue Hills Region

Images worth a thousand words: Glacial rock and water formations are scattered throughout this beautiful landscape in Rusk County. Volunteers took in the sights while walking the land and planning how to best route future trail to highlight and preserve these features. Photos by Dave Caliebe.

Over four days, 19 individuals methodically explored more than six square miles of remote Rusk County. Building on the trail layout event last October, we continued to narrow down the locations for future Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Our group sought ways to connect significant geological features of the area and avoid wetlands and logging interaction where ever possible.

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Ready! Set! Plant!

An image of volunteers getting ready to plant trees. They line up before the area where the trees will be planted, holding red flags that will be used to mark newly planted trees. Pine trees tower above them in the background, before partially cloudy skies.
Volunteers line up, ready to plant trees that will eventually transform the old pine plantation at the Brownrigg-Heier Preserve into a sustainable hardwood forest. Photo by Amy Lord.
2021 is a year of new beginnings, new growth, and reconnecting. Our reforestation effort in Manitowoc County upholds this sense of hope for the year and beyond.

Beginning on Friday, April 30 – National Arbor Day – 60 volunteers came together to plant 5,500 young trees on the Ice Age Trail Alliance-owned Brownrigg-Heier Preserve. Volunteers (some coming from three hours away) donated 730 hours to help improve the earth in an effort extending beyond their lifetimes.

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Volunteers Upgrade Structures on the Waterville Segment

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding, Reconnect 2021
Members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter work together to deliver a boardwalk frame to the construction site. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Over three official days (and one unofficial), 31 volunteers donated 615 hours to build four structures totaling 450 feet. Ahead of the project, efforts by the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter generated momentum with pre-built boardwalk frames. The on-site crews, composed predominately of chapter members, maintained the pace with their skillful construction. They also remained undeterred by the fickle weather, which alternated between snow squalls and spring sunshine. Continue reading

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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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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While Our Volunteers Serve Others, The Trail Gives Back

By Tricia Baker, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Volunteers, COVID Response
We were curious about the many Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers who have professions directly serving those who have been affected by COVID-19. While the Safer-At-Home order suspended maintenance along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail until June, our hard-working volunteers certainly didn’t stop working on behalf of others. Whether working directly with COVID-19 patients in an Intensive Care Unit, or working indirectly, by making and delivering meals through the Meals on Wheels program, our Trail volunteers and “frontline” professionals have made us very proud.

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Tending the Trail: Volunteers Lead the Way

By Christi Lee Ehler, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew events
Volunteers building new trail on the Ringle Segment of the Ice Age Trail near Wausau. Photo by Cameron Gillie.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail users are human — and unfortunately our ingrained negativity bias ensures a particular kind of reactivity to trail conditions: This sock-snagging span of brambles sure is annoying! Yet maybe you’re inclined to take for granted the previous and subsequent miles of bramble-free trail?

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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!

Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance

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

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Trail Improvement Days, Volunteering on the Ice Age Trail, Volunteer, How to Volunteer, Benefits of nature, being out in nature

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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