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 Tricia Baker, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
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.
By Christi Lee Ehler, Volunteer Writer for the Ice Age Trail Alliance
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?
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.
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.
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 →
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
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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.
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 →
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 →
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 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: 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 →
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 →
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 →
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 →
Construct 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 →
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 →