The vacation is winding down and we’re on our last day. We’re trying to pack in everything we haven’t gotten around to doing yet.
Yesterday I slept later than normal so I didn’t go on a run but I think I got just as good of a workout in on the Ice Age Trail. The Ice Age Trail is one of only 11 designated National Scenic Trails in the country. It’s not yet complete but will be 1,000 miles long and stretch over much of the state of Wisconsin when it’s fully developed. The trail was named for the unique geological structures and formations left behind from the glaciers that covered this area many thousands of years ago. More than 700 miles of trails are complete and open to hikers in the summer and snowshoers in the winter. There are several trail heads across the 700 miles and two of them are near Pardeeville – the heads of the Portage and Marquette segments of the trail.
The Marquette segment is only five miles long so we started there and hiked to the Portage trail head. Starting near high noon was probably not my smartest idea as the sun was pretty brutal. But we were stocked with water and sunscreen so it wasn’t entirely unbearable.
The hike was a pretty easy one with pretty flat terraine. But one piece of advice I wish I would have heeded was to wear long pants, despite the heat. The trail is not developed in terms of there being a paved path or a path of small gravel. The “trail” is created by a team of volunteers who mow a path through the tall grass, so it was a little overgrown in some areas with scratchy, pokey limbs, leaves and grass. The bugs were also out in full force. But I guess annoying bugs and invasive foliage is the price you pay for amazing views.
Much of the trail ran along the outskirts of private property where dozens of hunting towers littered the fields. As we hiked, I was thinking it was poor planning to have a hiking trail run right through the center of a hunting range. I even spotted several shell casings littering the trail — yikes!! But I’m also thinking it’s not an issue most of the time as it looked as if the trail had not been traversed in some time.
We made several stops along the way to enjoy some rare spots of shade to rehydrate or take pictures. With that, it took about an hour and a half to finish the hike. I’m already looking forward to doing it again in the fall when the sun isn’t as intense and the bugs not as hungry for human flesh.