Ice Age Trail: County Road C to Hi Lo Road

Hike a landscape carved by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago on this 32.3-mile section hike that follows the Ice Age Trail through Kettle Moraine State Park.
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Hike a landscape carved by glaciers more than 10,000 years ago on this 32.3-mile section hike that follows the Ice Age Trail through Kettle Moraine State Park.

The 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail delivers big-wilderness solitude and prairie vistas dotted with whimsically shaped glacial erractics—rocks with no geologic business being where they are—and this 32.3-mile point-to-point is the trail’s best weekend slice. From County Highway C trailhead, hike south through intermittent grassland, forest, and pine-tree farms to Road ZZ at mile 3.2. After the turn-off for Shelter #1 at mile 4.8, head south for .3 mile and cross WI 67. You’ll hike through an ancient (dry) lakebed featuring the feathery purple blooms of blazing star in July.
At mile 6.8, a .25-mile side trail leads to Brady’s Rock, a crumbled outcropping of pale Niagara dolomite. Continue through calf-high walking fern to WI 59 at mile 11.1. Cross Road S and head west across prairie dotted with wild lupine and prickly pear. Atop a moraine, overlook indented kettles that formed when ice blocks calved off glaciers and were buried and insulated by glacial gravel. The subsequent melting created the depression. At mile 12.8, a .2-mile spur trail leads to Shelter #2; camp here for a sprawling sunset view over the prairie.
Next day, head into forested hills while pileated woodpeckers jackhammer away overhead. Enter Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area, and gain a moraine-top viewpoint high above Blue Spring Lake. At mile 19.4, a side path leads to the Stone Elephant, a ridgebacked glacial erratic. In 1.4 miles, reach the top of grassy 1,032-foot Bald Bluff. Continue south, then ascend a steep side trail 400 yards into dense trees to reach Shelter #3, where you’ll spend the second night.
On the final day, clamber ahead 3.2 miles west to La Grange Lake. Push through thick honeysuckle to the US 12 trailhead at mile 28. Turn left onto Hi Lo Road, then take Kettle Moraine Drive to Whitewater Lake State Recreation Area and a trailhead parking lot.
-GPS data provided by Ice Age Trail Alliance

Trail Facts

  • Distance: 52.0

Waypoints

IAT001

Location: 42.966629, -88.461217

Hike east from County Road C.

IAT002

Location: 42.941407, -88.459092

Cross County Road ZZ and continue south.

IAT003

Location: 42.925792, -88.464494

Turn-off for Shelter #1.

IAT004

Location: 42.92326, -88.464744

Shelter #1

IAT005

Location: 42.922759, -88.46922

Cross WI 67.

IAT006

Location: 42.912686, -88.47893

The trail swings south and climbs gradually toward Brady's Rock.

IAT007

Location: 42.907767, -88.478909

Side trail to Brady's Rock.

IAT008

Location: 42.905362, -88.480432

Brady's Rock

IAT009

Location: 42.879203, -88.502963

Cross WI 59.

IAT010

Location: 42.874372, -88.525402

Pass the side trail to Shelter #2.

IAT011

Location: 42.873106, -88.527564

Shelter #2

IAT012

Location: 42.858373, -88.579481

Enter Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area.

IAT013

Location: 42.853133, -88.589979

Check out the Stone Elephant, at mile 19.4. This four-foot-high by seven-foot-long gray sculpture resembles the arched back of a large pachyderm buried to the nape of its neck. According to Native American legend, the
granite formation was used as an altar where the Prairie Potawatomi sacrificed their vanquished foes.

IAT014

Location: 42.844815, -88.606472

Crest Bald Bluff, the route's highpoint (1,033 ft.), then hike north.

IAT015

Location: 42.819014, -88.618944

Shelter #3

IAT016

Location: 42.816543, -88.6459

The trail winds west, paralleling the northern banks of Lake La Grange.

IAT017

Location: 42.804076, -88.652329

Cross US 12.

IAT018

Location: 42.780984, -88.695159

Turn left onto Hi Lo Road.

IAT019

Location: 42.780455, -88.695089

Turn left onto Kettle Moraine Drive and walk 0.25 mile to the ranger station.

IAT020

Location: 42.782043, -88.691208

The section hike ends at Whitewater Lake Ranger Station.