ridge-top park lies east of Verona and southwest of
Madison in southern Dane County.
federally designated trail is marked by yellow blazes on
brown posts as it winds through a restored prairie with
shrubby plants and grasses, oak savannahs and
runs north next to soccer fields and through whatís
known as Ice Age Junction, a permanent open space that
connects to nearby Madison.
Badger Prairie Park, the trail that is envisioned to be
1,200 miles in length runs south to the Verona Trailhead
where it connects with the Military Ridge State Trail.
Ice Age footpath continues south along Badger Mill Creek
to 160-acre Prairie Moraine Park, past farm fields and
Military Ridge Trail is popular with bicyclists and is one
of 41 state-designated trails in Wisconsin. It runs 41
miles from Dodgeville in Iowa County east to Fitchburg in
Dane County along an old rail line.
Ice Age Trail is bigger and more prestigious. It is
different: Its focus is hiking and geology. It is one 11
federally designated trails, like the Appalachian National
Scenic Trail that stretches from Georgia to Maine.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail is not well known. It offers
solitude and glacial geology. Its southern border
generally follows the southernmost extent of the glaciers
that covered Wisconsin 10,000 years ago.
is a land of eskers (glacier-created ridges), moraines
(glacially deposited hills), drumlins (hills formed into
teardrop shapes by drifting glacial ice), kettles
(depressions or basins formed by melted ice), erratica
(house-sized boulders moved by glaciers) and kames
(steep-sided or conical hills formed from sediments).
itís scenic in Wisconsin, itís probably glacial. You
can use ColdCache or a GPS unit to identify geological
features along the trail.
trail is a work in progress ó with about 675 miles
built, linked by back roads.
than 50 years ago, volunteers of the Ice Age Park &
Trail Foundation began creating an S-shaped footpath
through Wisconsin forests and prairies.
western terminus is in Interstate State Park near the
Minnesota-Wisconsin border just outside of St. Croix
Falls. The eastern terminus is near Green Bay on the Door
County Peninsula in Potawatomi State Park that extends
into Lake Michigan, with forests and limestone cliffs that
rise above the waves.
trail runs south and then west across southern Wisconsin
before turning to the north and west. It goes through the
National Park Service partners with the Wisconsin
Department of Natural Resources and the grass-roots Ice
Age Trail Alliance, based in Cross Plains, Wis., with its
5,000 members on planning, upkeep and administrative
responsibilities. It is expected to be complete in 30 to
50 years, said Mike Wollmer, executive director of the
trail travels through 30 Wisconsin counties on federal,
state, county and private lands. There are hundreds of
trailheads and access points. It was designed to be a
premier hiking trail and features some of Wisconsinís
most scenic landscapes.
is primarily a hiking and backpacking trail. Snowmobiling
and bicycling are allowed in a few areas that share the
route with state rail trails. Snowshoeing and
cross-country skiing are also allowed on some sections. It
is generally snow-free from mid-April to late October.
Bugs can be bad in early summer.
long-distance hiking on the trail is done from late August
to late October. To date, about 70 people have hiked the
entire length of the trail in one hike or in segments.
the mile-thick glacier covered two-thirds of North
America, itís called the Wisconsin Glacier because thatís
where it left the most evidence of its passage.
the Verona area, the trail generally follows the Johnstown
Moraine, a terminal moraine of the glacierís Green Bay
Ice Age Trail includes some of the best trails in
Wisconsin: the Pothole Trail in Interstate State Park, the
Blue Hills Trail near Rice Lake and the East Bluff Trail
in Devilís Lake State Park.
key figure in developing the trail was the late Ray
Zillmer, a Milwaukee attorney and outdoorsman.
far back as the 1920s, Milwaukee residents began to
explore the Kettle Moraineís glacial ridges in southeast
Wisconsin. The Milwaukee chapter of the Izaak Walton
League purchased 850 acres around Moon Lake near
Campellsport in 1926, and volunteers began building
trails. In 1937, the state established Kettle Moraine
the 1950s, Zillmer envisioned the Kettle Moraine trails
becoming part of a bigger linear park. In 1958, he founded
the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation to push the
establishment of a national park. Bills were introduced in
Congress, but Zillmer died in 1960.
1961, the National Park Service said in a report that
Wisconsinís glacial features were significant, but such
a linear park was too difficult for the federal government
1964, the federal and state governments devised a new
plan: nine separate units called the Ice Age Trail
National Scientific Reserve. It was created in 1971 to
protect glacially important sites.
federally designated reserve includes Kettle Moraine,
Interstate State Park at Saint Croix Falls, Chippewa
Moraine near Bloomer, Mill Bluff State Park near Camp
Douglas, Devils Lake State Park near Baraboo, Cross Plains
(the only federally owned site) near Cross Plains, Horicon
State Wildlife Area and National Wildlife Refuge near
Horicon, Campbellsport Drumlins near Campbellsport, and
Two Creeks Buried Forest near Two Rivers. Those units are
generally connected by the trail.
the early 1970s, volunteers began extending the Ice Age
Trail beyond the Kettle Moraine, and the grass-roots Ice
Age Trail Council was formed. In 1980, the trail was added
by Congress to the National Trails System.
note than 60 percent of Wisconsinís population lives
within 20 miles of the trail. It is also within 100 miles
of 18 million Americans.
date, the state of Wisconsin has permanently protected
7,000 acres. The alliance has added more than 3,000 acres,
mostly in narrow conservation easements.
and lodging are available in many areas. Backcountry
shelters are available.
warning: Hunting is permitted along the trail, so hikers
are encouraged to wear orange in hunting seasons. Some
sections may be closed in late November during deer-gun
alliance has published a detailed trail guidebook for $20.
An atlas of trail maps will cost $28.
more information, contact the Ice Age Trail Alliance at