Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Hiking Wisconsin's glacier-carved trail will set you back 12,000 years.

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The hills were carved by glaciers, the lakes by melting ice. Every step of the Ice Age Trail puts a geology lesson at your boot tips as it winds across Wisconsin at the edge of what 12,000 years ago was a mile-thick ice sheet. Walk atop “eskers” (long ridges), hike next to “kettles” (ponds formed by melting ice), and move along “moraines” (glacially sculpted hills). So far, 600 miles of the planned 1,000-mile course of the Ice Age Trail are completed. Backcountry shelters are available in a few sections.

RECOMMENDED HIKE: A 32.4-mile stretch through Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest offers an excellent sampling of the Ice Age Trail’s scenic highlights. Elevation gain/loss is minimal on this well-marked and well-maintained section.

WHERE: Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest is 150 miles (3 hours) north of Chicago. Start from the Henry S. Ruess Visitor Center (920-533-8322) west of Dundee on WI 67.

MAPS: Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation sells maps of all the Ice Age Trail segments (see address below). USGS quadrangles Kewaskum and Dundee cover the forest.

CONTACT: Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation, P.O. Box 423, Pewaukee, WI 53072; (800) 227-0046;