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Hikers with large packs walk past a trail marker for the Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Hikers along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail
Luke Kloberdanz

Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Wisconsin’s Ice Age National Scenic Trail is nearly 1,200 miles long, tracing the edge of a glacier that covered the area during the Ice Age 15,000 years ago. As the glacier retreated, it left behind a variety of landscape features, now enjoyed by millions who use the trail each year. Visitors to the trail can enjoy lakes, river valleys, prairies, forests, gently rolling hills, and more, as the trail connects many natural areas and meanders through towns. From biking and hiking to snowshoeing and interpretive centers and more, there is something to be enjoyed along the trail no matter the weather or season.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is unique in that it was primarily built by volunteers. Volunteers are continually working to improve existing segments of the trail and develop new trail segments – clearing up brush and branches, replacing old or damaged signs, constructing shelters, and more. This kind of work is vital as the trail is not yet complete, though more than half of the trail is complete and open to the public. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail crosses lands managed by many different public agencies and private landowners. Authorized by Congress in 1980, the trail became a unit of the National Park Service in December 2023.

The National Park Foundation (NPF) has been a long-standing supporter of the trail and its local philanthropic friends group, the Ice Age Trail Alliance. In 2023, NPF granted the Ice Age Trail Alliance support of its 19 volunteer chapters, helping to boost training, trail maintenance events, and necessary equipment purchases. Additional capacity building grants from NPF have helped the Ice Age Trail Alliance strengthen its ability to have meaningful and lasting impact as a partner for the trail.

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