With many Thanksgiving and Black Friday plans canceled, you may be looking for safe and family-friendly alternatives to gatherings. When making your holiday plans, consider taking a walk on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. It may be the perfect place to slow down, find internal peace, and gain clarity during the season of gratitude.
However, the Thanksgiving holiday also takes place in the heart of the nine-day gun deer hunting season. Keeping this in mind, we have 13 hikes to share with you where deer hunting is not allowed. All of the following suggested hikes take place in or near Ice Age Trail Communities. These hikes represent a perfect blend of natural surroundings and urban amenities.
Please Note: Hiking the Ice Age Trail has remained a relatively safe activity that allows for social distancing to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Please remember to hike responsibly and comply with public health protocols.
Self-Guided Hikes: Explore Our Trail Communities!
(Listed west to east)
St. Croix Falls Segment (9 miles)
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 of this proud Trail Community along the way.
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.
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.
Trail Alert: Beginning November 9, the IAT will be closed from the Military Ridge State Trail by the Little League Complex to Whalen Rd. due to a sewer reconstruction project. From the north, hikers should continue west on the Military Ridge State Trail, south on S. Main St., and east on Whalen Rd. This detour will be in effect through Spring 2022.
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.
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 restoration work by the Rock County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance and partnering Boy Scout troops.
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 1930s.
Lapham Peak Segment (7.6 miles)
This segment of the Ice Age Trail connects to Delafield and makes for a longer Black Friday hike. 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.
Delafield Segment (2.8 miles)
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.
Slinger Segment (1.5 miles)
Walla Hi Segment (2.3 miles)
City of Manitowoc Segment (7.3 miles)
City of Two Rivers Segment (2.8 miles)
Thank you for hiking responsibly during the Thanksgiving Holidays! Happy Trails!