Hiking, helping along the Ice Age Trail

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CSI Media Staff | February 26, 2016

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a thousand-mile footpath that highlights landscape features as it travels through some of the state's most beautiful natural areas. The trail is entirely within Wisconsin and is one of only 11 national scenic trails.

But the Ice Age Trail is more than a path through the woods. It is a place for mental and physical rejuvenation, a place to unwind after a hard day and enjoy the landscape of Wisconsin. More than 1 million people use the Ice Age Trail each year to hike and snowshoe, to backpack, to disconnect and reconnect.

Behind the scenes, a vibrant community of volunteers across the state works to build and maintain the trail, making it one of the country's best hiking experiences.

The Walworth/Jefferson County chapter was formed in 1993; since then, the chapter has hosted numerous hikes, including popular weekly walks and special interest hikes such as full moon, prairie flower, birding and National Trails Day hikes. Other activities include an Adopt-a-Segment program, monthly trail maintenance days, family events and potlucks.

Chapter meetings are held at 7 p.m. on the third Tuesday of each month at the US Bank building, 101 E. Walworth St.,in Elkhorn.

Weekly hikes are held Tuesday and Wednesdays; contact Ellen Davis at 262-740-1113 or Norwin Watson at 262-473-6251 or go online to IceAgeTrail.org to view maps of the trail and get more information.

The chapter's Kettle Trekker Hiking Award program recognizes those who have hiked all Ice Age Trail segments in the chapter's territory.

Want to go a step further in helping keep the IAT in good condition? The Walworth/Jefferson County Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance is seeking volunteers with a love of the outdoors.

Trail adopters and adopter assistants maintain their own one- to one-and-a-half-mile section of trail, removing trash, cutting back encroaching brush, reporting downed trees and erosion problems, and keeping the trail in good condition for hikers and runners.  

Tools and training are furnished by the IAT; adopters and their assistants set up their own work schedules.  Adopters can be individuals, couples, families, businesses, social groups, scout troops – anyone interested in helping to maintain and protect this section of Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
A casual orientation and hike will be held for potential adopters on Saturday, Feb. 27 at 10 a.m. Participants should Meet at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age Trail kiosk—three miles east of Whitewater, between Sweno Road and County Highway O—then hike an easy 1 ½ mile section of the Ice Age Trail to see first-hand what kind of maintenance is involved. A question-and-answer session will follow. To receive an information packet and attend the orientation – or for questions about the program, please contact Bonnie Nommensen at 262-495-3412.

Monthly work days, usually held on the third Saturday of the month, deal with larger-scale issues of brush removal, erosion control, short re-routes, boardwalk installation, rock work, and more.  Tools are provided, but volunteers must furnish their own work boots, gloves, and water – and expect to get dirty.  

The next monthly work day will be March 19. Work day volunteers meet at 9 a.m. at the U.S. Highway 12 Ice Age Trail kiosk, three miles east of Whitewater, between Sweno Road and County Highway O, then drive to the work site. For questions or additional information, contact Jerome Converse at 262-473-7304, or Andy Whitney at 262-949-0286.




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