The Ice Age Trail Alliance is proud to participate in #OptOutside with our partner REI, Inc. In its third year, #OptOutside takes place on Black Friday and encourages people to take a hike! Here in Wisconsin, the day after Thanksgiving is also the heart of deer-gun hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have set up nine hikes where deer hunting is not allowed.
All of the following suggested hikes take place in Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.
Hartland Segment (6.8 miles): This stretch follows the Bark River through downtown Hartland before heading south into the Hartland Marsh. Enjoy the perks of extensive restoration efforts in the Marsh before heading downtown for a bite to eat. Several establishments in this proud Trail Community have the Ice Age Trail logo on display. Be sure to let them know you’ve been out for a hike, it helps businesses appreciate the economic impact Trail enthusiasts have on their local economy.
The Hartland Public Library will be open on Black Friday from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Be sure to stop by and check out their fantastic Ice Age Trail collection and interactive display. Download a few more details for your hike along the Hartland Segment.
Delafield Segment (2.8 miles): Located just a skip away from Hartland, the City of Delafield is the most recent Ice Age Trail Community. Hikers through Delafield may pay tribute to Wisconsin soldiers at the Cushing Memorial Park and Wisconsin Veterans Memorial Riverwalk. Download a few more details for your hike along the Delafield Segment.
Lapham Peak Segment (7.6 miles): This segment of the Ice Age Trail connects to Delafield, making for a longer Black Friday hike to work off that extra helping of pumpkin pie. Spanning 1,000 acres, Lapham Peak has numerous hiking paths to follow. Hunting is prohibited in Lapham Peak, however, wearing blaze orange is a good idea this time of year. Download a few more details for your hike along the Lapham Peak Segment.
Janesville Segment (10.4 miles): The southern gateway to the Ice Age Trail, and one of the largest communities found on the route. Along the way, hikers may enjoy numerous parks and educational opportunities. A portion of the hike will take you along the Rock River where lovely views of the river have been opened up during recent restoration work by the Rock County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and partnering Boy Scout troops.
One of the places to linger is the Rotary Botanical Gardens. This 20-acre park will be open from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Friday. Happily, at this time of year, there is no admission charge, however, if you feel inspired and refreshed by your time there, please consider leaving a donation.
Download a few more details for your hike along the Janesville Segment.
Devil’s Staircase Segment (1.7 miles): Connecting with the Janesville Segment, Devil’s Staircase features one of the more unique hikes in the state. For a good portion of this stretch hikers parallel the Rock River and may witness the impressive work done by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930’s. Download a few more details for your hike along the Devil’s Staircase Segment.
Verona Segment (4.9 miles excluding Prairie Moraine Park): With about 200 acres of restored native prairie, the Verona Segment features open views of the surrounding landscape. There are numerous kiosks explaining the Ice Age Trail and Upper Sugar River Valley. Download a few more details for your hike along the Verona Segment.
Valley View Segment (1.8 miles): Situated on the terminal moraine, this segment features some of the finest examples of prairie and oak savannah restoration. If Black Friday is a clear day, hikers will be able to see Blue Mounds to the west. Download a few more details for your hike along the Valley View Segment.
Cross Plains Segment (2.8 miles): Located along Black Earth Creek in a valley between tall bluffs, this segment represents the boundary between the Driftless Area to the south and west and glaciated lands to the east. This hike can make for a nice loop through prairie, oak savannah and the Village of Cross Plains. For those of you who might be tempted to combine this hike with a tour of the Table Bluff Segment, please know that segment is closed for hunting. Download a few more details for your hike along the Cross Plains Segment.
City of Lodi Segment (1.8 miles): This hike starts, or ends, at the 150-foot-long footbridge spanning a ravine between Lodi’s middle and high schools. Based on a 16th century Chinese Rainbow Bridge, this structure is sure to amaze. The Trail through the City is a mix of dirt path and paved sidewalk. Enjoy the quaint downtown along the way. Download a few more details for your hike along the City of Lodi Segment.
TWO BONUS HIKES:
Pike Lake Unit: Join the Washington/Ozaukee County Chapter for their #OptOutside Hike! November 24 @ 10:00 am – 12:00 pm, they invite you to explore the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest with them. Deer hunting is not allowed in the unit. There will be a 4.6-mile hike using a loop trail and a shorter 2-mile loop will also be available. They’ll have a bonfire going at the new amphitheater after the hike. A Wisconsin state park sticker is required. Dogs are NOT permitted at the park facilities, so please leave Fido at home.
2.1-miles of BRAND NEW TRAIL opened up in the Walla Hi County Park in Manitowoc County. Walla Hi County Park is not open for hunting, so go discover this lovely gem. You’ll still want to wear blaze orange or other bright colors since area land is used for hunting. Details about the recent Mobile Skills Crew event which opened this trail, along with maps and photos, lives here.
Hiking During Hunting Season:
For a list of considerations to have in mind while hiking during hunting season please visit the Alliance’s Hiking During Hunting Season page on our website. Some of the basics:
- WEAR BLAZE ORANGE or other bright colors. This applies to you and your pet. We consider October through April as Blaze Orange Season on the Trail.
- THE TRAIL CLOSES IN SOME AREAS WHERE IT CROSSES PRIVATE PROPERTY. Please visit our Trail Map page and select “Trail Conditions” in the box beneath the map to discover which segments are closed for hunting. Not all closed segments may be listed, however, many of our volunteer chapter coordinators know the parts of the Trail that close in their region; contact the coordinator in the area you want to hike to find out about Trail closures. Sections that close should also have on-the-ground signage announcing the details of the closure.
- THE 9-DAY GUN DEER SEASON is from November 19 – 27 this year. This is the most popular season and the time you’re most likely to see your hiking options limited.