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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 (1), hike south through intermittent grassland, forest, and pine-tree farms to Road ZZ (2) at mile 3.2. After the turn-off for Shelter #1 (3) at mile 4.8, head south for .3 mile and cross WI 67 (4). 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 (5) leads to Brady’s Rock, a crumbled outcropping of pale Niagara dolomite. Continue through calf-high walking fern to WI 59 (6) 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 (7) 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 (8), and gain a moraine-top viewpoint high above Blue Spring Lake. At mile 19.4, a side path (9) leads to the Stone Elephant, a ridgebacked glacial erratic (flip page for details). In 1.4 miles, reach the top of grassy 1,032-foot Bald Bluff (10). Continue south, then ascend a steep side trail 400 yards into dense trees to reach Shelter #3 (11), where you’ll spend the second night. On the final day, clamber ahead 3.2 miles west to La Grange Lake (12). Push through thick honeysuckle to the US 12 trailhead (13) at mile 28. Turn left onto Hi Lo Road, then take Kettle Moraine Drive to Whitewater Lake State Recreation Area (14) and a trailhead parking lot.
Shuttle car drop From Eagle, take WI 67 south seven miles and turn right on US 12. In .4 mile, go left on County Rd. H for 2.5 miles to ranger station parking lot.
To trailhead Return to WI 67 and go north for 11.2 miles. Turn right on County Rd. C and park in .9 mile.
Permit Camping is allowed at shelters only; reserve permits ($12-14/night) up to 11 months in advance. (888) 947-2757
Gear up Sherper’s, 224 E. Wisconsin, Oconomowoc; (262) 567-6847
KEY SKILL: Beating mosquitoes
There’s nothing more devastating to a night’s sleep than a tent full of blood-thirsty mosquitoes—and Wisconsin is home to 50 different species. Here’s how to defend yourself.
Pick your battles Limit strenuous activity to between 8 a.m. and 4 p.m., when mosquitoes are more dormant. Sweating and heavy breathing attract the wrong kind of attention.
Be vigilant Spritz exposed skin with a 30-percent deet repellent every six to eight hours. Drape a bandana or spare T-shirt under a ballcap to create a makeshift head net.
Smoke ’em out Repel bloodsuckers with smoke. Create a smudge with notecard-size pieces of yellow birch bark (a striking silvery yellow and plentiful in Kettle Moraine State Park), roll it loosely, light it and blow it out so it smolders like an incense stick. Frontcountry stand-in: a stogie.
Moving sheets of ice carved the Wisconsin landscape like an enormous snowplow, leaving behind long, ridgelike moraines and misshapen glacial erratics—and Kettle Moraine is one of the best spots on the Ice Age Trail to view them. 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.
With long stretches of treeless prairie, the Ice Age Trail is ideal for evening hiking. Take advantage on your second night: From Shelter #3, hike two miles, past a trailside bench, to a point near La Grange Lake and watch the stars and moon glitter on the ink-black surface. On clear nights, hike by moonlight alone (full moon on July 26 and August 24). On cloudy or moonless nights, hold your headlamp at waist level and shine it onto the trail—this creates long shadows around rocks and roots and increases depth perception. (Wearing a headlamp between the eyes casts uniform light over the terrain and makes it appear flat and two dimensional.) Hear something? Return your headlamp to your forehead, flash the woods and look for two glowing points; eyeshine in animals varies from red (owls) to green (coyotes) to silvery yellow (whitetail deer).
ON THE MENU
On the road
Lunches 1, 2 & 3
Peanut butter and honey roll up
Breakfasts 2 & 3
Grilled Apple and Havarti Sandwich
Apples, trail mix
Glacier Creek Pasta Salad
Trail mix, molasses cookies, granola bars
Satisfying roll-ups of meat, sauce, and cheese
7 ounces pizza sauce
1 cup shredded mozzarella
4 ounces sliced pepperoni
Spread pizza sauce onto tortilla, then add cheese and pepperoni slices. Tuck tortilla sides in and roll like a burrito. Wrap in two layers of aluminum foil and bake over coals for 10
minutes; cut into pieces.
Grilled Wisconsin Havarti with Apple
Crisp fruit and flavorful cheese
¼ cup butter
1 apple, thinly sliced
2 tablespoons sugar
¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon ground cardamom
4 thick slices bread
4 slices Wisconsin Havarti
Sauté apples and spices in butter until syrup forms. Place mixture and cheese between two slices of buttered bread. Fry until bread is golden brown.
The Grocery List
[ ] Butter (dairy)
[ ] Shredded mozzarella (dairy)
[ ] Sliced Wisconsin Havarti (dairy)
[ ] Sliced pepperoni (deli)
[ ] 1 loaf bread (deli)
[ ] Apples, any variety (produce)
[ ] Peanut butter (1)
[ ] Honey (1)
[ ] Pizza sauce (2)
[ ] Tortillas (3)
[ ] Instant oatmeal (4)
[ ] Trail mix (4)
Pack Sugar, cinnamon, cardamom, foil
Pick ’N Save
405 N. Wales Rd.,
Wales, WI; (262) 968-9460