Ice Age Trail Hikes

by Dianne Koch

Want a nice day trip getaway hike within 90 miles of Dubuque? Want to see interesting scenery? Want to explore a 1200-mile continuous trail that is designated as a National Scenic Trail? What??!!?, you say.  Near Dubuque?

Yes, the Ice Age Trail, a National Scenic Trail on par with the Appalachian Trail and John Muir Trail, follows the glacial endpoints of the last glacier that crept from northern Wisconsin southward. The geological features, such as moraines, kettle ponds, kames, and drumlins that remain provide an interesting backdrop for hikers. With the help of the Ice Age Trail Handbook, hiking has never been easier.

Over the past few months, Kevin and I have traversed three unique segments: the Devil’s Staircase in Janesville, Wisconsin; the Kettle Moraine State Park South Unit near Eagle, Wisconsin; and the Table Bluff Segment in Cross Plains, Wisconsin.

The Ice Age Trail Handbook, available from the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s website, is full of useful information; detailed maps of trails; amenities such as parking lots, restrooms, and restaurants, and Trail Town features; as well as wildlife, plants, and geographical features. The trail is kept in fine shape by county volunteer groups.

All three segments proved to be unique, interesting, and worth seeing in all seasons.  Visiting for day hike options is a good way to start. Invest in their Handbook as a good way to study hiking possibilities and support the organization.  In addition, a topographical atlas is also available for each segment of the trail. Finally, a downloadable app can also give pertinent details; however, cell service can be slow in new territories where the phone is constantly searching for towers, thus running out of energy sooner than normal. That’s why we recommend buying the physical book.

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