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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, 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
- Distance: 52.0
Location: 42.966629, -88.461217
Hike east from County Road C.
Location: 42.941407, -88.459092
Cross County Road ZZ and continue south.
Location: 42.925792, -88.464494
Turn-off for Shelter #1.
Location: 42.92326, -88.464744
Location: 42.922759, -88.46922
Cross WI 67.
Location: 42.912686, -88.47893
The trail swings south and climbs gradually toward Brady’s Rock.
Location: 42.907767, -88.478909
Side trail to Brady’s Rock.
Location: 42.905362, -88.480432
Location: 42.879203, -88.502963
Cross WI 59.
Location: 42.874372, -88.525402
Pass the side trail to Shelter #2.
Location: 42.873106, -88.527564
Location: 42.858373, -88.579481
Enter Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area.
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.
Location: 42.844815, -88.606472
Crest Bald Bluff, the route’s highpoint (1,033 ft.), then hike north.
Location: 42.819014, -88.618944
Location: 42.816543, -88.6459
The trail winds west, paralleling the northern banks of Lake La Grange.
Location: 42.804076, -88.652329
Cross US 12.
Location: 42.780984, -88.695159
Turn left onto Hi Lo Road.
Location: 42.780455, -88.695089
Turn left onto Kettle Moraine Drive and walk 0.25 mile to the ranger station.
Location: 42.782043, -88.691208
The section hike ends at Whitewater Lake Ranger Station.