Most everyone with even a slight interest in the outdoors has heard of the Appalachian Trail, but for many, it’s a “far away” thing. Far fewer know about the National Trail System or realize there are opportunities to explore trails in the same class as the AT in every part of the country.
The Ice Age Trail is a perfect example. It’s a thousand miles long and winds from Wisconsin’s western border on the St. Croix River to Lake Michigan’s Shores in the most east-northeast are of the state – at Potawatomi State Park to be precise. The trail roughly follows the outline of the most recent glaciers to cover Wisconsin about 10,000 years ago. Along that “edge” are many amazing geologic features and natural wonders you just won’t encounter anywhere else. You simply must get out there to see them for yourself.
It’s kind of amazing to think the Ice Age Trail covers 1,000 miles which is almost half as long as the Appalachian Trail. But while the AT winds through 14 states, the Ice Age Trail is all in the state of Wisconsin. That makes it even more convenient to plan day and segment hikes, which is how most people enjoy all of the National Trails network.
Each year about 1.25 million people use the Ice Age Trail year round including hiking, camping cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, and a special form of Geocaching called “ColdCaching.” In all, more than 100 people have joined the “Thousand-Miler Club” for hiking the entire trail in segments or as thru-hikers. The economic boon to the state and to the cities along the trail is something like $113 million annually.
Just like the Appalachian Trail is supported by the group called the Appalachian Trail Conservancy, there’s a tremendous group supporting and promoting the Ice Age Trail as well. It’s called the Ice Age Trail Alliance. A visit to their website is the place to begin if you want to know more about the trail, plan a hike, or support the Ice Age Trail by volunteering or making a donation.