One For The Ages - Page 2
Most of the trail is not particularly hilly, but what it lacks in vertical gain or loss it more than makes up for with smooth, runable singletrack and lush (or snow-covered or fall-colored, depending on the season) ridgeline views.
The trail is not connected from end to end and there are several interruptions, but numerous long, uninterrupted sections are easily accessible from every part of Wisconsin.
Highlights of the Ice Age Trail
Straight Lake State Park. Located in Polk County just an hour and a half from the Minnesota's Twin Cities, this section, says Kaufmann, is “the Midwest’s answer to Saint Mary Lake [in Glacier National Park, Montana].” The landscape in this 3000-acre park is rich with outcroppings of basalt bedrock, which, being near the surface of the ground, has given spring to several ephemeral ponds, perched wetlands and marshes.
Chippewa Moraine. Located one hour from the city of Eau Claire, this section of the trail hosts the Chippewa 50K and 10K Trail Races in April. Start from the David R. Obey Interpretive Center for easy access to a section that winds through a spatter of seemingly endless kettle lakes.
Plover River State Fishery Area. Explore the hardwood forest and cedar trees along a Class I trout stream, or wander past moss-covered boulders in the space beneath a forest canopy of fir, cedar, hemlock and aspen trees. Located in Marathon County, 30 minutes from Wasau. Bonus tip: visit the Great Dane Pub and Brewing Company in Wasau to quench your thirst and hunger post-run.
South Central Wisconsin and Devil’s Lake State Park. This region of the state, including Devil’s Lake, is the place to find spectacular vistas on the Ice Age Trail. 360-degree views of the Baraboo Hills and the sights from the top of the east and west bluffs that contain the trail are equally impressive. Start out west of Highway 113, about 45 minutes from Madison. Bonus tip: while use of the trail is free, access to state parks requires a vehicle admissions sticker.
Table Bluff. Located near Madison, this route traverses restored oak savanna and prairie where melting glacial waters once poured through the valley floor. Bonus tip: stop at Crossroads Coffee House in Cross Plains for a vegetarian wrap and iced tea.
Southeastern Wisconsin and Kettle Moraine State Forest. One hour from Milwaukee (two from Chicago). This segment follows the extensive Kettle Interlobate Moraine and hosts several of Wisconsin’s large trail races, including the Ice Age 50 Mile, and is suitable for runs of varying length. Mandatory stop: La Grange General Store, for their famous peanut butter balls (they also have several lunch options).