Should hiking be the main focus of your Wisconsin vacation, then you won't want to miss the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Extending some 1,200 miles, this delightful footpath showcases geological effects left over from the last Ice Age. During the Ice Age, glaciers carved out much of the landscape that we see today in parts of the Midwest, though there are hardly a wide number of Midwest attractions that so effectively allow visitors to inspect the creations of this phenomenon. You will be able to enjoy a firsthand look at the effects of continental glaciation when enjoying the Ice Age Trail Wisconsin experience, and when touring the rest of the state, it's interesting to note that the rolling hills, the numerous river valleys, and the abundant lakes are all evidence of past glacial activity.
Ice Age Trail Wisconsin
When looking at a Ice Age Trail Wisconsin Map, you'll notice that it starts on the eastern side near Sturgeon Bay. Dipping southward from there, the Ice Age Trail moves a bit westerly as it approaches the Milwaukee area. In the southeastern part of the state, this extended Wisconsin National Park trail takes a sharp turn towards the west, passing south of Madison before heading north. The western terminus for the trail can be found at Interstate State Park, which rests on the St. Croix River. If you can't pick the trail up at one of the ends, then you can always access it via a number of trailheads that are found along its course. Parking areas are offered at the different trailheads if you are driving. Should you be hanging out in one of the state's larger metropolitan areas, the closest Ice Age National Scenic Trail trailheads can often be reached via public transportation as well.
The Ice Age Wisconsin National Park trail is actually administered by a few different agencies, with the National Park Service assuming most of the responsibility. Aiding in the administration are a number of public and private agencies, who donate resources to help maintain the path. Often times, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail overlaps other popular hiking trails, and it also passes through numerous municipal parks, so you can enjoy a number of different experiences while walking along it. You'll pass over hilltops, wander among forested regions, and be able to take in the natural beauty of the state when you add the Ice Age Trail to your Wisconsin vacation itinerary, and the changing seasons transform the surrounding environments during the course of the year. The trail is open year round, though some parts are prone to closings depending on the various Wisconsin hunting seasons. Wearing bright colors while enjoying the Ice Age Trail Wisconsin experience is recommended when passing through any hunting areas.
When hiking along certain Ice Age Trail Wisconsin stretches, you will have to pay a fee. Fees are also common for those who wish do some camping as well. You might also need a camping permit if you want to set your tent up along the way, so it's important to get the lowdown on all of that before you claim a spot in the wilderness. It's also a good idea to arm yourself with a good map when hiking along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, even if you are just planning a short day hike. The distances between some of the access points, or trailheads, can be relatively far apart. If you're not planning on camping overnight, you might get yourself into a bit of a jam if you don't have your exit strategy planned in advance. Be sure to consider the terrain at hand as well when hiking along this Wisconsin National Park trail, as some stretches are more strenuous than others.
Regardless of whether your Ice Age Trail Wisconsin experience lasts just a few hours or extends over the course of a few weeks, a fun time awaits you. Should you visit the trail in the winter, you might replace hiking with snowshoeing or cross-country skiing, while stargazing at night is popular at any time of year. Plenty of lakes and streams can be accessed while hiking along the trail, so you might look to do some fishing during your excursion, and the hard surface stretches are ideal for biking, snowmobiling, and horse riding. Don't forget to bring your binoculars if you enjoy birding, as it's just one more thing to enjoy when enjoying your time on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail!
Top image: The Cut (flickr)