The IAT & Closing/Reopening of Public Land

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, COVID-19, Closing of Public Land, Impact of Governor Evers' order on the Ice Age Trail.

What to Know Before You Go!

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is open (except where it crosses federally owned land in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest).

As of 5/01/2020, 34 of the 40 state parks, forests, and natural areas, previously closed, will now be reopened.

Reopening does NOT extend to restrooms, campsites, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations, and concession buildings. These facilities remain closed until May 26, 2020.

Reopening means that there is now INCREASED ACCESS to many popular Ice Age Trail segments where portions of the Trail cross state park land!

However, several popular state properties have Safety Capacity Limitations in effect:

  • to minimize overcrowding,
  • to allow for social distancing requirements,
  • to promote a safe and enjoyable experience for staff and visitors

Safety Capacity Limitations restrict the number of people able to park in a parking lot, and therefore use the park or hike, at any given time. Once a lot is full, visitors may be denied entry to the park until existing visitors leave. This system may on occasion limit access to these segments:

Devil’s Lake State Park

  • Sauk Point Segment
  • Devil’s Lake Segment

Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit

  • Whitewater Lake Segment
  • Blackhawk Segment
  • Blue Spring Lake Segment
  • Stony Ridge Segment
  • Eagle Segment
  • Scuppernong Segment

Kettle Moraine State Forest-Lapham Peak Unit

  • Lapham Peak Segment

Please note: These two state natural areas remain closed.

Parfrey’s Glen State Natural Area (remains closed)

  • Sauk Point Segment

Gibraltar Rock State Natural Area (remains closed)

  • A portion of the Gibraltar Rock Segment between both parking areas on County Road V

Please note: If you can find legal parking options near the affected segments, you may certainly hike or run them.

Due to limited parking, you may need to hike during off-peak times of the day. Please hike responsibly.

Updated 4/30/2020 United States Forest Service News Release

The Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest will be lifting the closure order for boat landings (except for some within closed campgrounds) today.  In addition, both motorized and non-motorized trails (i.e. Ice Age National Scenic Trail) on the National Forest will be open May 8 or when local conditions allow for opening. While the boat landings will be available for use, they will not be maintained, nor will any associated facilities be available such as restrooms or garbage receptacles until further notice. Trails will be open however, without restrooms or garbage receptacles at trailheads. Camping on National Forest land is still prohibited. View press release here. Camping notice here.

Please note: The Forest is open for hunting and fishing and access to such activities.

Segments affected by this announcement include: 

Lake Eleven Segment

Jerry Lake Segment

Mondeaux Esker Segment

Hike Responsibly: 13 Things to Know

Help Flatten the Curve:  

  1. Stay Local. Limit travel to within your community (or county). If you do not live near an Ice Age Trail segment, please enjoy your local county or city parks, or your own back yard.
  2. Let Go. Set aside your Thousand-Miler goal, whether it was to section-hike segments, or to begin a long-distance, multi-day thru-hike.

Hike Responsibly, if You Choose to Hike:

  1. Park Status. As of 5/01/2020, 34 of the 40 state parks, forests, and natural areas, previously closed, have now been reopened. Reopening does NOT extend to restrooms, campsites, towers, shelters, playgrounds, nature centers, headquarters, contact stations, and concession buildings. These facilities remain closed until May 26, 2020. Also, several popular state properties have Safety Capacity Limitations in effect. See list.
  2. Do Research. Use the online Hiker Resource Map to locate a new-to-you and less frequented Ice Age Trail segment for your outing (however, please consider limiting your range of travel). You can also use the Ice Age Trail Guidebook or Atlas. You may purchase new editions here (a downloadable PDF version is sent via email immediately).
  3. Plan Carefully. Avoid busy trailheads and parking lots. Have several options in mind, plan B, C, or even D!. If the parking lot is full when you arrive, consider hiking another segment instead, or reschedule your visit.
  4. Yellow Blazes. Stay on the Ice Age Trail. In numerous instances, the Trail crosses private land. Taking a trail that is not yellow-blazed could lead to trespassing and jeopardize our relationships with private land owners.
  5. Connecting Routes. These days, less vehicular traffic, mud, or people, make these portions of the Ice Age Trail an attractive hike option. Consider hiking these smaller, less crowded roads.
  6. Act Smart. Avoid busy Trailheads. Pack out your own trash. Do not litter. Pack your own food and water so you don’t need to stop along the way and spread or contract the virus through contact with others.

Hike Safely, if You Choose to Hike:

  1. Limit your hiking or running partners. No new hiking/running partners. Do not hike in any groups other than members of your household. Shrinking your circle of interactions will help prevent the spread of COVID-19. Also, do not carpool with friends or family who are not members of your household.
  2. Be Safe. Wear a mask. Stay 6 feet away from others. Do not congregate at trailheads. Let others know before you pass them.
  3. Hike Early/ Hike Late. Due to the congestion on Ice Age Trail segments in populated areas, hike at off-peak times. On weekends, peak times are 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
  4. Runners = Extra Space. Runners should give other runners and hikers more space. You are inhaling and exhaling more deeply and therefore more susceptible to absorption and transmission of the virus. Don’t do the “runner nose blow.” It’s a great way to spread the virus.
  5. Stay Home. If you’re not feeling well, or have a compromised immune system, you’re safer at home.

How Can I Stay Upbeat During This Tough Time?

We know it’s tricky to feel happy during these uncertain times, so we’ve pulled together these resources for you to use in whatever outdoor space you have available to you right now, especially if you decide not to travel very far.

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  1. Pingback: The Joy Trip Project | Outside In The Time Of Covid-19

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