New Section of Waterville Segment Replaces Busy Road Walk!

Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Newly constructed boardwalk on the Waterville Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
2020 reawakened a love of the outdoors in many Wisconsinites. A perfect distillation of this excitement came from our Waterville Gap Campaign to help get the Trail off of a dangerous road walk in Waukesha County. The call to action went out in July of 2020, and by September we had exceeded our fundraising goal. In an astonishing show of grassroots philanthropy, the project was funded and purchased in under five months, and the new Trail opened in just over a year.

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The Reimagined Ringle Segment is almost a Reality!

The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The reimagined Ringle Segment will wind its way on fresh tread and over boardwalk through mossy and hummocky terrain. Photo by Lisa Krueger.
The less-than-stellar weather, coupled with a record hatch of mosquitos, attempted to slow down the 78 dedicated volunteers at the Ringle Trailbuilding event. Over four and a half days, and through rain, mud, and clouds of bug spray, volunteers contributed 1,972 hours to open a beautiful new half-mile section of Trail. Volunteers cut and hauled lumber, built bridges, constructed rock walls, drafted blazes, crafted tread and slung rotten granite through the air via a highline to more easily – and safely – create a hardened walking surface through a moss-covered boulder field.

The stage is set, and with October rapidly approaching, we await the final act in the Reimagining of Ringle saga.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Receives Prestigious National Award for Outstanding Volunteer Service

Ice Age Trail Alliance is the Recipient of 2020 National Hartzog Volunteer Group Award

Volunteers’ hard work and dedication not only builds, supports, and maintains the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, it also wins awards.

During a virtual ceremony on Wednesday, August 25, Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers and staff were named recipients of the 2020 National Hartzog Award for Group Volunteer Service. Bestowed annually by the National Park Service (NPS), the prestigious George and Helen Hartzog Awards for Outstanding Volunteer Service recognize the “exemplary contributions” NPS volunteers make to their park and community.

In 2020, while most National Parks shut down and volunteer activities were stymied, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail remained open and its volunteers continued trailbuilding, maintenance, and support. In fact, a total of 1,499 Alliance volunteers spent nearly 53,300 hours on Ice Age Trail-related activities; all while adhering to mask-wearing and social distancing safety protocols.

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Three New Miles of Trail in Dane County!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail, Mammoth's Back Preserve, Valley View Segment, Reconnect, Mobile Skills Crew Events 2021
A crew of swampers pile brush in an effort to clear the corridor for a new section of Ice Age Trail along the Cross Plains Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Despite the sweltering heat and violent weather, two new Ice Age National Scenic Trail sections are open after a five-day Mobile Skills Crew Reconnect event. The efforts of 86 volunteers, donating 1,852 service hours, created a new path through Mammoth’s Back Preserve and more off-road hiking along the Valley View Segment. Each section is a work in progress and will require continued restoration. But, it is hard to overstate the value of three newly opened miles of Ice Age Trail in Dane County.

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A New Bridge Spans Sailor Creek!

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Sailor Creek Bridge, US Forest Service, Jerry Lake Segment
Volunteers cart soon-to-be repurposed deck boards to another location. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Perfect weather, minimal bugs, and a fantastic crew, made for quick work as the bridge over Sailor Creek rose from the mud like a lotus. The squelching of boots through curmudgeonly swamp accompanied the din of hammers, saws, and drills, as 20 volunteers came together to complete the 178-foot-long Forest Service structure. In just over three days, the Jerry Lake Project totaled over 500 service hours! “Big Spider Bridge” will allow for the safe crossing of Sailor Creek for the next half century.

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Ice Age Trail Alliance Receives Hartzog Volunteer Group Award

By Dan Watson, Volunteer Coordinator, National Park Service – Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
Ice Age Trail Alliance Headquarters in the Village of Cross Plains. Photo by Joanne Ellarson.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance won the National Park Service George and Helen Hartzog award for the Midwest Region – Volunteer Group Award out of 21 outstanding nominations submitted in recognition of 2020 efforts.

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Highlighting the Glacial Beauty of the Blue Hills Region

Images worth a thousand words: Glacial rock and water formations are scattered throughout this beautiful landscape in Rusk County. Volunteers took in the sights while walking the land and planning how to best route future trail to highlight and preserve these features. Photos by Dave Caliebe.

Over four days, 19 individuals methodically explored more than six square miles of remote Rusk County. Building on the trail layout event last October, we continued to narrow down the locations for future Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Our group sought ways to connect significant geological features of the area and avoid wetlands and logging interaction where ever possible.

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Volunteers Upgrade Structures on the Waterville Segment

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age Trail, Mobile Skills Crew, trailbuilding, Reconnect 2021
Members of the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter work together to deliver a boardwalk frame to the construction site. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Over three official days (and one unofficial), 31 volunteers donated 615 hours to build four structures totaling 450 feet. Ahead of the project, efforts by the Waukesha/Milwaukee County Chapter generated momentum with pre-built boardwalk frames. The on-site crews, composed predominately of chapter members, maintained the pace with their skillful construction. They also remained undeterred by the fickle weather, which alternated between snow squalls and spring sunshine. Continue reading

Volunteers Ensure Successful 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Stone Steps, Trailbuilding, Volunteers
Volunteers spent 7,727 hours building and improving segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail this trailbuilding season, including these beautifully crafted stone steps on the Ringle Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
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.

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A Brilliant Finale for the 2020 Trailbuilding Season

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Project, Reconnect
A volunteer crew shovels rotten granite into a pile for distribution along soft tread. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Like the witch-hazel flowers that dazzle in autumn as its leaves fall to the ground, the 2020 Reconnect Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season had a final flourish before settling in for winter. We all needed a bright spot this year, and Mother Nature provided plenty of brilliance during the Ringle Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event. The weather, the leaves, the volunteers were perfect.

It was a much-needed respite from the unsettled “real” world. Bad news only came when your name was called to help move rotten granite. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Event: Join us on the Ringle Segment!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Marathon County, Mobile Skills Crew Event
The final MSC event of the 2020 trailbuilding season will be taking place on the Ringle Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on October 5-11. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

Mobile Skills Crew Event

Ringle Segment

Marathon County (Central Wisconsin)

October 5-11, 2020

To say the least, it’s been a weird year. With plans everchanging, we hold on to the normal activities – the ones we can still do – to anchor our lives. A constant on the Mobile Skills Crew event (MSC) calendar since 2017, trailbuilding along the Ringle Segment provides familiarity: the base camp setting, the scenery, the type of work. It’s fitting, in this discombobulated year, that we end with an old friend.

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Boardwalk Construction a Speedy Success!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Southern Kewaskum Segment, Boardwalk, Trailbuilding, MSC, Mobile Skills Crew
Completed boardwalk on the Southern Kewaskum Segment through the efforts of volunteers during the September Mobile Skills Crew event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Exceeding expectations is easy when ideal weather and the perfect group of volunteers align, as they did for the Washington County Mobile Skills Crew event. This combination generated a momentum that blew ahead of the pre-set schedule.

Each task was sizeable but proved no challenge for the crews. Veteran trailbuilders brought new volunteers up to speed under their careful tutelage. A strong team formed to knock out the work, while wearing masks and following COVID-19 safety protocols.

The final product, a 269-foot-long boardwalk, includes a bump-out designed as a wheel-chair passing zone and look-out platform for hikers wishing to slow down and listen to the springtime chorus of frogs.

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Mobile Skills Crew Event a Success During Pandemic!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Volunteers, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC, Boardwalk, LaBudde Creek Segment
A volunteer works steadily and safely while adding the kick plate, a finishing touch along the 248-foot-long boardwalk on the LaBudde Creek Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Our first Mobile Skills Crew (MSC) event since February, the LaBudde Creek event brought a kaleidoscope of emotions:

  • anxiety, like when dancing after not having done so in a long while;
  • change, as when seeing with new eyes a way to navigate new norms;
  • gratitude, like when an old friend breaks silence with laughter.

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Trailbuilding & Stewardship Event

Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Trailbuilding and Stewardship Event, Gibraltar Rock, Mobile Skills Crew Season
A crew burns brush piles to restore a remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment in Columbia County. Photo by Kevin Thusius.

For the fourth year running, we plan to torch eastern red cedar and other undesirable woody plants to restore a wonderful remnant prairie along the Gibraltar Rock Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Already, many pockets of native prairie species are thriving where trees have been removed and seeds are exposed to sunlight. With every push to restore native prairie we also push to revitalize the beautiful views of Wisconsin’s unique topography and waterways.

This special Leap Day event is a twice-in-a-decade type of experience, don’t miss out!
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Ice and Stalwart Volunteers!

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Boardwalk construction, Mobile Skills Crew events 2020
We’re befriending ice to set 22 bridge abutments beneath 8 inches of ice and through 30 inches of cold, dark water to support what will become a 577-foot-long boardwalk elevated 6 feet. Photo by Kevin Kuhlmann.

Wednesday, February 5th, through Saturday, February 8th, we embark on the most complex boardwalk construction project in Alliance history.
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Trailbuilding Results: Audacious. Sustainable. Inspiring.

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Interpretive Site

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.

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Spectacular MSC Season Finale

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Langlade County MSC, Mobile Skills Crew event 2018

The rock work crew proudly gathers at the culmination of their efforts. Photo by Alaina Dedo.

The Mobile Skills Crew 2018 (MSC) season finale was a thundering conclusion to a successful season of Ice Age National Scenic Trail development, construction, and stewardship. The first-ever MSC event in Langlade County generated the most project hours in the history of all IATA events, and the most miles of new Trail opened in one fell swoop since such data has been reliably tracked. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Old Railroad Segment, Langlade County

Register here

Overview:

This event is all-hands-on-deck & a HUGE opportunity! Please join us and help reroute and reimagine nearly 10 miles of the Ice Age Trail. This is the first MSC event to occur in the gargantuan tableau of Langlade County and promises to be fun for all.

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities. The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Tuesday, October 9, and concludes Sunday, October 14. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

Old Railroad Segment: North woods extravaganza!

Morning mist rises on one of the many lakes along the re-imagined Old Railroad Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.

A grand time of year to be in the north woods is when the sugar maple, oak, and aspen light up in fall colors and, at long last, the mosquitoes, gnats, and flies have had their final say for the season.

Beginning Tuesday, October 9th and continuing through Sunday, October 14th, please join us for the season-finale of the 2018 Mobile Skills Crew “Light the Candles” tour and help create a new, nearly 10-mile long, reroute of Ice Age Trail in Langlade County.

This event is all-hands-on-deck and a HUGE opportunity to elevate the hiker experience in the north woods. Continue reading

Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Event – Cross Plains Segment, Dane County

Register here

Join supporters and staff as we celebrate 60 years of building, stewarding, protecting and promoting the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Celebrate with us at Ice Age Trail Days in Cross Plains, which is both the headquarters of the Alliance and a designated Ice Age Trail Community focused on increasing awareness of the Ice Age Trail and the mission of the Alliance. If you would like to attend other events during Ice Age Trail Days, click HERE to learn more.

Overview:

This new-trail construction party in the Village of Cross Plains celebrates community and built-to-last camaraderie. Tread, signage, stonework and trail stewardship zones will be the focus of this shindig!

No previous experience is necessary; training is provided by certified volunteer crew leaders. There will be roles for all ages and abilities. The IATA provides food, tools, and campsites free to all who volunteer.

See a map of the project area [PDF]

Schedule:

Your contribution is welcome for any part of the event or the entire project. Work begins on Wednesday, August 8, and concludes Sunday, August 12. Trail construction activities begin each day around 8:00 a.m. and typically wrap up between 4:00 and 5:00 p.m. On Sunday, work ends by noon.

What to Bring:

  • We recommend a long-sleeve shirt and pants for trail work.
  • Plan for variable weather – bring warm layers and rain gear.
  • Sturdy hiking or work boots (no tennis shoes) and leather work gloves.
  • Day pack, water bottles, insect repellent, sunscreen and a hat.
  • If camping, bring a headlamp, tent, sleeping gear and toiletries.
  • Consider bringing a lawn chair; you’ll appreciate having it to relax around the fire in comfortable clothes at the end of the day.

Special Notes:

We love dogs, but we ask that you not bring them to this event. Woolly mammoths are welcome.

Mud, Rain, and Slab Hill

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Mobile Skills Crew Project, Walla Hi SegmentDespite rain and challenging conditions, our third MSC event in 15 months at Walla Hi County Park was a great success. Hardy volunteers, 79 in total, helped create and open for business a new, signature section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Over the course of three and a half days and 1,908 volunteer hours, a little over a half-mile of spectacular new trail, one that beguiles the imagination, emerged from within a 15-foot wide trail easement. Slab Hill – the steep pitch that rises 47% over 80 linear feet – will forever be a focal point for trail users. Telling of the skill and dedication of the builders are found in the subtleties – trail drainage dips, well-crafted tread, thoughtful trail signage, and the scores of invasive plants eradicated.  Continue reading