One For The Ages
The Ice Age Trail showcases some of Wisconsin’s unique geographical features
Some 25,000 years ago, a glacier flowed into what is now Wisconsin and covered most of the state until melting back over 10,000 years later. It left behind a series of geological features unique to glaciation that are more prominent in Wisconsin than anywhere in the world: features like dells, outwash plains, kettles, moraines, eskers, erratics, drumlins and kames. In fact, the final stage of glaciation in the last ice age—which lasted from 2.5 million years ago until 10,000 years ago—is known as the “Wisconsin Glaciation.”
Running through it all is the Ice Age Trail, a nearly 1000-mile footpath that follows many of these formations across the length of Wisconsin. In the 1950s, Milwaukee resident Ray Zillmer founded the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation (now known as the Ice Age Trail Alliance, or IATA) with the goal of creating a linear park that followed Wisconsin’s terminal moraine across the entire state. In 1980, Congress recognized the Ice Age Trail as a National Scenic Trail, one of only 11 nationwide.
“Much of the trail offers solitude, but occasionally it takes you right down the main streets of charming Wisconsin communities,” says Matt Kaufmann of the IATA. “If you’re a trail runner, walker, hiker, backpacker, snowshoer or cross-country skier, the Ice Age Trail is the perfect place to explore and connect with Wisconsin’s wonderful landscape, culture and world-renowned Ice-Age history."