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Hike Or Bike Wisconsin's Glacial Drumlin Trail!

Updated on July 21, 2010
Gorgeous views along the Glacial Drumlin Trail.
Gorgeous views along the Glacial Drumlin Trail.
Baby Red Belly snake along the trail. Photo credit: Ben Zoltak
Baby Red Belly snake along the trail. Photo credit: Ben Zoltak

The Glacial Drumlin Trail is one of Wisconsin's environmental victories.

My family and I spent the last seven years living in the urban confines of Chicago, Illinois. After having been raised in Wisconsin, I missed the long walks out into the relative wild. Last year we moved back to my home state and rented an old Victorian right next to the Glacial Drumlin Trail. For me, it has been like having a back yard that stretches out into forever.

The trail is mostly an old railway whose tracks have been removed. So in many ways, when you hike the trail you are in the back forty of many farmers fields. There is also a lot of state owned land that besets the trail with woods and prairie along with more of the same that are privately owned hunting lands.

Over the past year my family and I have spied all kinds of wildlife including: Sand-hill Cranes, Whooping Cranes, Red Belly Snakes, Snapping Turtles, Red Fox, Coyote, Ground Squirrels, Woodchucks, Beaver, Muskrat, Opossum, Spring Peeper Frogs, Leopard Frogs, American Toads, Rabbits, Red-tailed Hawks, Turkey Vultures, Red Winged Blackbirds and the ubiquitous Raccoons. There have also been Mountain Lion sightings in the past few years, although I've never come across one. It has been a real joy to watch the varying wildlife come and go over the seasons, as the leaves fall off the trees and the snow comes and turns everything white. Now in the spring we've been watching all the brown turn to green and we're hearing all the birds chime in again.

In the winter you will see a lot of snowmobiles. But now that spring is here the trail attracts a lot of bicyclists. My family and I mainly hike, we're rollerbladers, but the Glacial Drumlin Trail isn't paved, it's mainly gravel or clay so keep that in mind if you're planning a trip. The trail extends from Madison to Milwaukee but mainly it's most woodsy trails go from Cottage Grove to Waukesha for fifty two miles. If you are planning a bike trip, you will need a trail pass ($20 annual, $4 daily) or there is some likelihood a Ranger will enforce a $5 fee for your biking excursion.

There is a certain piece of mind that comes with visiting the Glacial Drumlin Trail. Drumlins are glacial formations that are long (sometimes ovoid) hills that were created when debris of rocks, sand and gravel collected by the glacier were deposited in large heaping mounds. Perhaps that is one reason Cahokia Amerindian ancestors built many mounds around this area as well. The trail extends a mile and a half south of Aztalan, the remains of the Northernmost Cahokia settlement. Although it's a mile and a half north, on bike its a doable and worthwhile diversion.

Maybe someday the Wisconsin Glacier will return and renew all these wetlands under a half mile thick sheet of viscous ice and stone. But in the meantime if you would like to see what the last glacier left behind, plan a visit to the Glacial Drumlin Trail in southern Wisconsin! This is one of those places that I almost hate to promote because it's something of a local secret, but I think people need more contact with the best of nature, and that is what you will find along the trail.


Don't forget to check out Ben Zoltak's ten other Wisconsin recomendations!!!!!

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    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Springboard, it's another great piece of Wisconsin to explore!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

      Ben

    • Springboard profile image

      Springboard 

      8 years ago from Wisconsin

      Definitely looks like a place I want to check out.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      It is very pretty around here Tammy, though it get's real cold in January (like I have to tell a former Canuck right?) thanks for the comment!

    • profile image

      Tammy Lochmann 

      8 years ago

      Looks like a great place to live. I am jealous. I enjoyed.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      emmett! You don't have to be done! Learning is lifelong. I've always worried about seeing a rattler at Devil's Lake because friends over the years have told me they've seen them there but I have my doubts! Thanks for the comment!

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Ann, I'll bet your brother would love the Glacial Drumlin trail, it offers some very great views and a certain kind of serenity. Thanks for reading in!!!

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hey Mike thanks for the comment, sounds like a great pond. Ponds and lakes are holy places to me. I know what you mean about snakes too, I appreciate them, but like some relatives, more from a distance than up close, LOL.

      Ben

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Pamela thank you for the kind words. It really is a pretty walk, so much to see, I am grateful to live in such a warm and healthy place.

    • emmett24matthews profile image

      emmett24matthews 

      8 years ago

      I see those Red Belly Snakes a lot in Wisconsin. Last one I spotted was last year at Devils Lake State Park. I gotta say if I wasn't done with college, Herpetology would be my major.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thanks Steveo! If you ever make it out this way, stop at Aztalan too, it's really an amazing place!

      Peggy! You might be surprized, the Glacial Drumlin trail does meander for a bit about a mile from the interstate, but mostly it's away from it!

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Good idea! There are abandoned tracks in our area. Of course the closest one that I am thinking of would be near Interstate 10 freeway. Wouldn't be as lovely an area as the one you portrayed.

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      I know what you mean Katrina! It's been rewarding moving away from the big city, but also has made me appreciate the little things even more!

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      That's true cvanthul! I wish I could visit every State's "secret" trail, now that would be a world of fun!

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Hi Peggy! I'll bet the GDT was still a railway then! There is a nationwide movement in place to transform most of the old railways to trails, look for taking political action in your area (Texas in your case) to try and get the railways turned to trails! Thanks for the comment!

      Ben

    • Ann Nonymous profile image

      Ann Nonymous 

      8 years ago from Virginia

      Okay you made it sound absolutely great but one thing will forever hinder me,...that SNAKE! Yikes! The other day i almost walked into a small, harmless garden snake and nearly had a heart attack. But I will tell my brother about this as he has great traveling dreams that are all about mountain biking and things like that! Good hub, Ben!

    • Mike Lickteig profile image

      Mike Lickteig 

      8 years ago from Lawrence KS USA

      It's gotta be terrific to have that kind of proximity to nature so close to home. I am a few blocks away from a hiking trail that leads to a small fishing pond--nothing even remotely close to what you're describing--and I just love it.

      HOWEVER-- I am deathly afraid of snakes. I think I would face down the mountain lion first (maybe not, though--I would need to give that more thought)! I can deal with just about anything else, but snakes give me nightmares.

      Nice hub, Ben. Hope you've been doing well lately.

      Mike

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      8 years ago from Sunny Florida

      Ben, It sounds like a great place to visit. Thank you for a very informative hub.

    • SteveoMc profile image

      SteveoMc 

      8 years ago from Pacific NorthWest

      I have never been in the area, but as usual, your writing in an easy read and I find myself wondering if I will ever be in that area.....maybe sometime when I am really lucky.

      thank you

    • Katrina Ariel profile image

      Katrina Ariel 

      8 years ago from The Highlands of British Columbia, Canada

      I used to live outside Chicago and totally know the need to get away and go for a long walk in nature. Lovely hub!

    • cvanthul profile image

      Cristina Vanthul 

      8 years ago from Florida

      I love reading about all these little local secrets. Every state has its best trails, natural history and local lore that make visits (and hubs) irrestible. Thanks for a good read.

      Cris

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 

      8 years ago from Houston, Texas

      Wow! I grew up in the Oconomowoc area and attended school in Okauchee. Never heard of this Glacial Drumlin Trail...but we moved to Texas in 1960. Maybe it was still a rail line back then? Beautiful country between Madison and Milwaukee!

    • Ben Zoltak profile imageAUTHOR

      Ben Zoltak 

      8 years ago from Lake Mills, Jefferson County, Wisconsin USA

      Thank you kindly Hello, hello, your remarks are always welcome and thoughtful!

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 

      8 years ago from London, UK

      Thank you for such a lovely and inspiring hub of Wisconsin's Glacial Drumlin Trail. I enjoyed reading it and felt I was there.

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