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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Ice Age Trail, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Reconnect, Trail Improvement Days

By the Numbers: 2020 Mobile Skills Crew & Reconnect Trailbuilding Season

494 Volunteers Engaged

7,727 Volunteer Hours Logged

1,277 Feet of Boardwalk

1.3 Miles of New Trail

21 Sawyers Trained

Summary of 2020 Trailbuilding Events

John Muir Park Segment
Marquette County
January 30 – 31

This Land/Trail/Outreach mashup took off like a well-constructed burn pile. Intrepid volunteers worked hard to stay warm while clearing the Muir Preserve to reestablish prairie. Functioning efficiently in teams, 54 volunteers gave 468 hours to remove invasive trees and keep the fires stocked with fuel. Students from Middleton and Madison East high schools came out to lend a hand as well.

John Muir Park Segment Photos

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, John Muir Park Segment, Land Stewardship, Burn Piles, Fire, Volunteers
Volunteers constructed several burn piles during a invasive species removal event to reestablish native prairie in the Muir Preserve. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Holy Hill Segment, Trailbuilding, Boardwalk, Construction
70 intrepid volunteers cut through three feet of ice to install a boardwalk on the Holy Hill Segment in February 2020. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Holy Hill Segment
Washington County
February 5 – 8

As the cold winter continued, volunteers cut through three-feet of ice to install a new boardwalk on the Holy Hill Segment. This previously untested method worked like a charm, with 70 volunteers working for 1,206 hours to complete the structure and deck. Local volunteers came back in spring to add the railings and approach extensions to create a beautiful 663-foot-long boardwalk with a viewing platform.

Holy Hill Segment Photos

Gibraltar Rock Segment
Columbia County
February 27 – 29

During this Land/Trail/Outreach mashup, the Steenbock Preserve was home to sawyers and burn pile builders. They were determined to enhance the Trail experience by clearing eastern red cedar. The prairie will be thankful for the more balanced habitat, and hikers will enjoy some phenomenal views. Alongside students from the Lodi School District, 164 volunteers gave 1,391 hours of effort.

Gibraltar Rock Segment Photos

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Steenbock Preserve, Gibraltar Rock Segment, Volunteers, Students, Lodi School District, Lodi
Students from the Lodi School District joined volunteers at in improving habitat at the Steenbock Preserve. Photo by Amy Lord.
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, US Forest Service, USFS, Sawyers, Volunteers, Certification, Training
The U.S Forest Service trained 21 Ice Age Trail Alliance volunteers as certified sawyers. Photo by Kevin Thusius.
Chainsaw Training
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest
Taylor County
July 30 – August 2

The first Ice Age Trail Alliance sawyers to receive training from the U.S. Forest Service, 21 volunteers received 202 hours of instruction.

LaBudde Creek Segment
Sheboygan County
August 20 –23

While adjusting to a more rustic base camp and a bit less coffee in the morning, 64 volunteers enjoyed warm weather and blue skies. They constructed a 248-foot-long boardwalk over a perennially wet section and repainted signage along a mile of trail. A third-of-a-mile of new tread, by-passing a steep hill on Little Elkhart Road, went from a five-year-old flag line to completion in just three days! Let’s not forget the satellite crew that went south to clear storm damage from the Parnell Segment. Crews accomplished a lot in 1,464 hours.

LaBudde Creek Segment Photos

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.
Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Kewaskum Segment, MSC, Boardwalk, Volunteers
Volunteers constructed a 269-foot-long boardwalk on a wet section of the Southern Kewaskum Segment. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.
Southern Kewaskum Segment
Washington County
September 17 – 19

Slated as a four-day project, it ended after just three days due to the rhythm and cohesiveness of the 27 volunteers and their 683 hours of work. Crews built an arrow-straight, 269-foot-long boardwalk across a low swampy area. A small team was dispatched south to the Holy Hill Segment to remove the old, no-longer-needed, 300-foot-long boardwalk. With the help of the Vermeer, they accomplished this task in just half a day. The quick progress overall can also be attributed to local chapter members who helped complete preassembly beforehand.

Washington County Project Photos

Ringle Segment
Marathon County
October 5 – 11

The capstone of the year was a week-long project along the Ringle Segment, which connected the trailbuilding work of the previous two years. A three-mile stretch from Poplar Lane to Hoot Owl Drive is now complete. 71 volunteers gave 1,754 hours to build 51 feet of boardwalk, an eight-step stone staircase, over 100 feet of stone retaining wall, and an impressive 3,800 feet of tread. We were also joined for two days by a four-person Student Conservation Association trail crew hired to work on the segment’s north end. If you missed out, don’t worry, you’ll get to help complete the final miles of this reimagined reroute in 2021.

Ringle Segment Photos

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ringle Segment, Volunteers, Stone Staircase, MSC
Volunteers built an impressive eight-step stone staircase during the 2020 Ringle Segment Mobile Skills Crew Event. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Ice Age Trail Alliance, Bohn Lake Segment, Mobile Skills Crew, MSC, Boardwalk, Construction, Volunteers
Thirteen volunteers braved the cold, rainy weather to disassemble and reassemble 165 feet of boardwalk on the Bohn Lake Segment. Photo by Dave Caliebe.
Bohn Lake Segment
Waushara County
October 23 – 24

Cold, damp, and rainy weather did not hamper the spirits of the 13 diehard volunteers. They spent 202 hours disassembling and reassembling 165 feet of boardwalk to raise it by 12 inches. They extended it as well by adding 45 feet of boards on either end. The ever-rising water required a reroute of 300 feet of trail upslope. Hopefully, the lake will quit filling up.

Bohn Lake Segment Photos

Blue Hills Trail Layout and Design
Rusk County
October 28 – 31

This training event required wandering the Northwoods in Rusk County and logging over 80 miles in the process of finding a new Ice Age Trail corridor. Covering basic trail layout and design principles, the group learned about data gathering tools and trail basics. 10 volunteers spent 357 hours over four days narrowing down the corridor options for a future reroute.

Blue Hills Trail Layout & Design Photos

Ice Age Trail Alliance, Ice Age National Scenic Trail, Blue Hills, Trail Layout, Trail Design, Volunteers, Scouting, Rusk County
Volunteers walk the Northwoods in Rusk County to determine the route of a new Ice Age Trail corridor. Photo by Patrick Gleissner.

Thank you to our 2020 Mobile Skills Crew Trailbuilding Season Partners and Sponsors!

Thank you for joining us for the 2020 Trailbuilding Season!