Incredible Progress Made for October’s Grand Opening

Volunteers work to move a large rock in the mud, while one dog looks on and another naps.
Volunteers work together on a stonework project, while one "volunteer" takes a quick snooze. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Clouds of Northwoods gnats swarmed volunteers, encouraging a run to Walmart for head nets! But, despite this springtime challenge, 101 volunteers donated 2,773 service hours, making incredible progress toward the October 1st Grand Opening.

Volunteers completed the four boardwalks started during April’s Trailbuilding event, and built one more. They also built a bridge along the East Lake Segment, offering a seamless connection between the East Lake and Rib Lake segments.

In the distance in a forest, two volunteers stand next to a nearly completed boardwalk that goes over a creek.
Volunteers completed a total of five boardwalks during this MSC event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Stonework crews completed a stone staircase begun in 2022 and started and finished a second one. They also placed seven stepping stones across a seasonally wet, muddy area. This improvement will also offer hikers a pleasant place to sit and reflect beneath an enormous white pine.

Treadwork crews built an impressive 3,500 feet of tread between CTH-D and Surek Road, leaving only finish work for the Fall project.

A group of volunteers admire a recently completed stone staircase.
Stonework crews completed a stone staircase begun in 2022, plus started and finished a second one. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

The support crew left the work site early each day, returning to base camp to prepare the evening meals. The light breeze off the lake and the occasional evening rain meant far fewer bugs but made grilling a touch more challenging!

In addition to the Trailbuilding, certified sawyer and swamper crews cleared Trail corridor, reopening segments that travel through the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest and the Taylor County Forest.

A scenic shot of a wooden bridge over a creek in the northwoods.
A scenic shot of Sheep Ranch Creek Bridge. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

“This event allowed us to tie up loose ends, especially those related to building boardwalks, and get a head start on the Fall project,” said Dave Caliebe, Trail Program Manager. “All in all, we are in an excellent place for our October 1st Grand Opening. I’m excited for people to see our volunteers’ amazing work.”

Project Outcomes:  

  • 101 volunteers donated 2,773 service hours.
  • Finished 4 boardwalks started in April and built 1 more.
  • Built a bridge (over Sheep Ranch Creek) along the East Lake Segment.
  • Built 3,500 feet of tread.
  • Completed 2 stone staircases, one of which had been started in 2022.
  • Set 7 gigantic stepping stones across a low, muddy area.
Two people smiling stand under an umbrella by a grill.
No matter rain or shine, a grill out is a must at MSC events. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
A group of volunteers sit around a picnic table and enjoy a homecooked meal.
Volunteers enjoy a homecooked meal after an admirable day of trailbuilding. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Special thanks to:

  • Bob and Ann Rusch for decades of commitment to the Ice Age Trail and being the driving force in rebuilding the Rib Lake Segment.
  • Lee “Butch” Clendenning and Gail Clendenning for donating the gap-closing easement, the site of April and May’s trailbuilding projects and for providing a delicious meal!
  • The Village of Rib Lake (an Ice Age Trail Community!) for providing a truly wonderful basecamp at the amazing Lakeview Park and Campground.
  • Dennis Bukovcan for allowing trucks to transport materials through his property, saving us a great deal of muscle power!
  • Tammy Wiese and Becky Burton for stepping up and doing a great job as Crew Leader Managers.

Generous funding for volunteer support and trailbuilding supplies came from

Bob and Ann Rusch.

Up Next:

Storrs Lake Segment, Rock County
June 21 – 25, 2023

This boardwalk building event is at capacity! Thank you to everyone who signed up. We look forward to enhancing the hiker experience with this new structure.

IAT-U: Trail Skills, John Muir Park Segment, Marquette County
July 12 – 16, 2023

Learn new skills from experienced staff and trained volunteers. Ice Age Trail University (IAT-U) classes will include boardwalk construction, trail maintenance basics, and the ins and outs of blazing. Courses have attendee limits.

Learn more and register today.

See our full schedule of upcoming events, here.