ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail

Updated on October 17, 2017
Ice Age Trail indicated in Red. Breaks in trail include unmarked or where the Ice Age follows on another trail.
Ice Age Trail indicated in Red. Breaks in trail include unmarked or where the Ice Age follows on another trail. | Source

The Ice Age Trail is a national scenic trail located entirely in the state of Wisconsin. The trail winds for more than 1,000 miles following the edge of the last continental glacier to cut through Wisconsin's landscape. With its Western end located in Interstate Park on the St. Croix River in Polk County and its Eastern end located in Potawatomi State Park on Green Bay in Door County it would take roughly three months to walk through the entire trail.

The trail travels through 30 counties on state, federal, county, and private lands connecting dozens of communities. With hundreds of trail heads and access points located along the route, hikers can pick up on the trail where it is most convenient for them. This also means that you can pick and choose which features you want to see on the Ice Age trail and find the nearest trail head without having to hike for days to get to your desired location.

The Ice Age Trail is primarily an off-road hiking and backpacking trail which provides excellent opportunities for wildlife viewing, sightseeing, bird watching, and where permitted camping. In winter you can find places where the Ice Age Trail is open for snowshoeing and cross-country skiing. Since the Ice Age Trail is primarily an off-road trail ATV's and other motorized vehicles are not permitted.

Personal Experience on the Ice Age Trail:

When I was around seven years old my parents took me and my two younger sisters out hiking. While hiking we found an unmarked trail and started walking. It seemed like days and we still had not double backed and returned to the truck. After about three hours we finally hit a road and started walking what we assumed to be the direction of the truck. We found a bar and my dad got directions back to the truck and returned half an hour later to pick us up.

A few years later my family along with some aunts and uncles were camping up near Post Lake, Wisconsin. The guys all headed out for a day on the lake so the women decided to find a good hiking trail and spend the day hiking and having a picnic. They asked the office at the campsite where a good hiking trail was and we started off. When we got there I looked at the map and realized it was part of the Ice Age Trail. Right away I said that if we wanted to return to the cars we were going to need to turn around at some point or we would never get back. Not to my surprise the adults did not believe me and said we would follow the trail until we got tired or returned to the cars.

Several hours later we were still hiking and very hungry. We had crossed over several roads and still had not turned around. It wasn't until we hit highway 17 with a sign that said Rhinelander ahead that they knew we had gone too far. Instead of just taking the trail back we walked the road and cut back on what they were hoping was a different trail that would lead us back to the cars.

Eventually we made it back exhausted and hungry. Due to my personal experience on the Ice Age Trail I thought it would be helpful for others to learn how the Ice Age Trail works and lend a guide in using the trail properly.

Part of the Ice Age Trail at Devil's Lake
Part of the Ice Age Trail at Devil's Lake | Source

Tips for Hiking the Ice Age Trail:

  • Parking: There are numerous trail heads with parking located throughout the state. All state parks and forests have parking as well as a registration fee.
  • Trail Signage: Blaze yellow is the official color of the Ice Age Trail and will mark the trail route. You will either find yellow paint or a plastic yellow rectangles on trees and posts along the trail (Not all state and county parks mark the Ice Age Trail due to the connecting of other trails, consult a local park map or the Ice Age Trail Atlas for these segments of unmarked trails).
  • What to wear: Although most of the trail is unpaved and consists of uneven terrain, sturdy walking shoes will work just fine. If the trail is not completely secluded to forests it might be wise to stick to pants as walking through tall grasses can cause scratches and the legs to itch. Multiple layers and rain gear is necessary for longer hikes as the weather will change throughout the different terrains of the trail. Keeping your pants and shirts tucked in will help eliminate the possibility of coming in contact with ticks as well as give better protection against mosquitoes and other insects.
  • Safety: During hunting season some stretches of trail may be used by hunters and it's encouraged for hikers to wear blaze orange during hunting season. Be prepared for natural dangers, such as bears, snakes, or poison ivy. Bear attacks are rare, and Wisconsin is home to only two breeds of rattlesnake both of which are endangered. The likelihood of encountering any of these animals is extremely rare. Poison ivy, dehydration, and heat exhaustion are the top three issues to be concerned with when traveling on the Ice Age trail.

Things to Remember When Planning a Hike for the Ice Age Trail:

Although there are hundreds of trail heads and access points located along the Ice Age Trail not all are located in populated areas with facilities. Due to the vast amount of access points, you can generally find them a few miles apart. However, in remote areas they can be as far apart as 10 miles.

Before heading out be sure to grab a wilderness first aid kit, as these trails can become hard to navigate if you are inexperienced or do not understand how the trail works. When taking to the Ice Age Trail it is wise to know where you are starting and how long that particular stretch of trail is. It wouldn't be a bad idea to think out your plans so you can pack enough water and food during the hike, as well as plan a turn around point.

Follow the trail heads. If you see unmarked or deer trails don't take them, it is easier to get lost when you can't find a trail head to follow.

If you are at a state park or forest remember the boundaries of the park. The trail goes through the park and if you don't know the boundaries you could easily get taken out of the park and farther down the Ice Age Trail. For example at Devil's Lake there are other hiking trails that cross and connect to the Ice Age trail, so it is important to always remember which trail you are hiking on and where you need to get off.

Before taking any hike on the Ice Age Trail do the research and prepare a guide for the best possible experience. If you are looking for some ideas on day hikes, the Ice Age Trail Alliance has a great website where you can find just about anything you want to know about the trail. From the history of how the trail was formed, to where you can camp, and everything inbetween this is the best resource when it comes to knowing about the Ice Age Trail. The website is a great resource for free downloadable guidebooks, as well as for finding out what the conditions of the trails are before you head out.

Be sure to bring a cell phone in case of an emergency, but remember it may not always work in remote areas of the trail. Always be sure to tell family and friends where you are going and when you plan to be back. Be prepared and make sure to take enough food and water to sustain you during the hike, and most importantly have fun and enjoy the beautiful scenery and wildlife.

© 2012 Cholee Clay


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      johnooo and moonlake--Thanks for commenting and the votes! They are greatly appreciated.

    • john000 profile image

      John R Wilsdon 

      8 years ago from Superior, Arizona

      I have traveled Wisconsin a bit, but was really interested in your information about the Ice Age Trail. The moraines I saw traveling from Milwaukee north have always been intriguing to me. Now I have hiking to look forward to. Voted up.

    • moonlake profile image


      8 years ago from America

      I didn't know the Ice Age Trail was by Post Lake and l live in this area. Very interesting hub enjoyed reading it. Voted UP.

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks cardelean! I hope so to. It can be a tricky trail if you don't know much about it, especially if you pick it up from another trail.

    • cardelean profile image


      8 years ago from Michigan

      Very informative hub! I bet that many who want to hike this trail will find your stories very useful!

    • Shesabutterfly profile imageAUTHOR

      Cholee Clay 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Thanks Teresa Coppens! It's absolutely beautiful especially in fall:) It was tough walking, but definitely have some great stories. Hiking with the relatives we found a tree that looked just like a black bear cub and fooled the men into thinking we really saw it. Great memories on a truly beautiful trail.

    • Teresa Coppens profile image

      Teresa Coppens 

      8 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Interesting hub on a beautiful looking hiking trail. I would not have been happy about the seven hour walk. I bet it made for some interesting stories later on!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
    ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)