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Ice Age Trail UPGRADE: National Park System designation, paves the way for trail expansion

Ice Age Trail Sign.jpg
Posted at 9:12 PM, Dec 08, 2023
and last updated 2023-12-11 11:52:26-05
  • Wisconsin's Ice Age Trail recently earned designation as a unit of the National Park System, opening doors to increased resources, including crucial federal funding.
  • With 700 blazed miles ready for hikers, the trail awaits completion with the remaining 500 miles consisting of connector routes and rural roads.
  • Senator Tammy Baldwin and the Ice Age Trail Alliance highlight the trail's significance in attracting visitors nationwide.

Wisconsin's beloved Ice Age Trail, a 1,200-mile stretch that showcases the natural beauty and resources and its recent designation as a unit of the National Park System opens doors to increased resources, including federal funding, to facilitate the completion and enhancement of the trail.

Today, the Ice Age Trail has 700 blazed miles, making it fully ready for hikers. The remaining 500 miles consist of connector routes, rural roads, and back highways linking existing segments of the trail. The possibility of federal funding is poised to play a crucial role in connecting these pieces.

Senator Tammy Baldwin (D) of Wisconsin has been a driving force behind the trail's recognition, having introduced legislation for nearly a decade to bring the Ice Age Trail in line with other scenic national trails. In a recent statement, Senator Baldwin emphasized the trail's importance in attracting visitors from across the country,

"Visitors from all over the country come to enjoy Wisconsin's great outdoors, and the Ice Age Trail, along with the North Country Trail, makes nature accessible to so many while attracting new customers to our businesses and restaurants on main streets across the state," says Sen. Baldwin.

Melissa Pierick, of the Ice Age Trail Alliance, added, "So that's all those people that go to Yellowstone, they go to Glacier, you know, they're going to all the national parks. They also go and visit the National Scenic Trails, the National Battlefields, and the National Seashore. So this will just bring greater visibility on a national scale to the trail, maybe beyond the hiker audience that we have right now."

Looking at the Ice Age Trail map may look like just a winding trail that wraps around the state, but it is tracing the path where glaciers once ended. Pierick says the trail is full of glacial significance, offering a journey through geological history. Opening the doors to federal funding could help new visitors easily access all 1,200 miles of this iconic trail.

Click here for more information on theIce Age Trail.