By Elena Mederas, Communications Support Specialist
In October 2020, the Ice Age Trail Community of Slinger opened a multi-use, community trail that hosts a new section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The multi-year effort to build the trail came about through strong partnerships and coordination between the Village, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (WDNR), Ice Age Trail Alliance (IATA), and multiple landowners, businesses, and community organizations.
The new route of the Slinger Segment replaces a previous 0.7-mile road walk with a new 0.9-mile section of Ice Age Trail connecting the Slinger Segment to the Cedar Lakes Segment. The scenic trail corridor passes through Slinger’s Community Park and continues north along wetlands adjacent to Little Switzerland Ski Area.
Slinger’s Village Administrator, Margaret Wilber, happily reports that the trail has already generated a lot of interest in the Ice Age Trail and in healthy recreation opportunities available in the village.
“People are just loving it, and it’s getting a lot of use,” says Wilber.
The multi-use trail does more than extend the Ice Age Trail; it is also an invaluable addition to the Slinger community. Wilber notes that the trail’s proximity to the middle school provides kids with a connection between the school and the village park. This keeps kids, as well as Ice Age Trail hikers, off of the busy highway 175 and onto a safe pedestrian passageway between key points in the village. Steps to design the proposed route and secure land for the trail began in early 2018, when the village reached out to property owners to gauge interest in the project.
“We wanted to make sure their concerns were met,” Wilber says of private landowners along the proposed trail route. “The property owners were great to work with and were very supportive of the project.”
Finding shared enthusiasm and support among members of the Slinger community, the Village successfully acquired two land parcels from St. Peter’s Church and Harold Roethle, as well as a trail easement through land owned by Raco V, LLC. In addition, Wilber and her colleagues in the Village have cultivated a partnership with Slinger High School to add improvements to the trail, including kiosks, benches, shelters, and a bike rack.
The project was made possible through a WDNR Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Grant and community funding. As a newly-minted Ice Age Trail Community in 2018, the IATA supported the city’s efforts to secure the WDNR grant and expand the Slinger Segment.
A group of Ice Age Trail volunteers officially marked the trailway with yellow blazes during the Washington County Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) project in mid-September, ahead of the official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the trail in October.
“Amy Lord and everyone at the Ice Age Trail Alliance have been really fantastic to work with,” says Wilber. “The ribbon cutting event that we had in October was a lot of fun. With the pandemic, we were very careful to keep it as safe as possible. It was a lovely community event.”
The tremendous response from the community has prompted the Village Board to prioritize the creation of new trails, walking paths, and bike paths in 2021. Wilber looks forward to working with IATA on future projects to invite people onto the Ice Age Trail and showcase the unique history and natural spaces of Slinger.