Readers' Choice Midwest Hikes: Ice Age Trail, WI

Thru-hike one of the country's least-known National Scenic Trails.

Nachusa Grasslands, IL | Aurora Borealis - Isle Royale NP, MI |Wichita Mountains Wildlife Refuge, OK | Effigy Mounds National Monument, IA | Ice Age Trail, WI | Garden of the Gods to Lusk Creek Canyon - Shawnee NF, IL

About 15,000 years ago, a massive glacier scraped across Wisconsin, gouging out jagged bluffs and bunching the landscape into gnarled ridgelines and eskers. “It’s some of the most interesting, subtly 
beautiful—and lightly traveled—terrain in the Midwest,” says Trilik. In fact, though it’s within 20 miles of 60 percent of Wisconsin’s population, just 55 people have successfully thru-hiked The Ice Age Trail.

Why? Unlike more developed National Scenic Trails like the Appalachian or Pacific Crest, the 1,100-mile Ice Age Trail poses unique logistical challenges requiring A-game routefinding and improvisation: 480 miles of it are on unblazed connecting trails, bike paths, and even some sidewalks. The IAT starts in Potawatomi State Park on the shore of Lake Michigan and tracks south, then northwest along the rugged terminus of an ancient glacier. End at the Minnesota border. Most successful thru-hikers begin in late August to avoid fierce midsummer skeeters and finish in late October. 


Directions Hike west to east to start with long stretches of contiguous trail.

Map and Guide Ice Age Trail Companion Guide and Ice Age Atlas ($20, $35,

Contact (800) 227-0046,