Heading out on my 11th and last National Scenic Trail!
After finishing the Natchez Trace we dropped Greenleaf off in Nashville and Troll and I drove to Illinois where we picked up Little Bird. She’ll be hiking the first couple of weeks with me while Troll will still support us for a little while.
So what is the Ice Age National Scenic Trail all about? It is a thousand-mile footpath that highlights the landscape features created by the glacial ice during the ice age some 12,000 years ago. The Trail is entirely within Wisconsin and is my last of the eleven National Scenic Trails to hike. I know there will be a lot of road walking on this one as well but we’ll start on the western end which has the most trail. It will give me a little break from the pavement pounding.
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The western terminus is at the end of the pothole trail which is a short hike out and back. The pothole is impressive, maybe 15 feet deep, created by the power of water and debris.
From the terminus sign there is a great view over the Saint Croix river. On the other side of the river is Minnesota but we head east towards the other end of Wisconsin.
The trail is lovely and after a short climb we end up at the visitor center. We look at the molars of a mastodon and learn more about glacial geology. I even sucker Little Bird into watching the 24 minute informational video. The video features a family visiting places along the ice age trail and talking about the geological features. The whole thing is cringeworthy but the information is fun to learn especially since we will see it all in the next 1100+ miles.
We hike on, can’t resist a coffee stop in town but then make good time on the nice trail. We climb an esker (I could explain but maybe you should watch the cringe video instead), walk through some grassy pastures, into the woods and over some rock croppings. Eventually we wind our way back to the river. Lovely purple flowers line the trail and skunk cabbage abounds in the swampy areas.
After a chilly ford we join a road and walk a connector segment to the Gandy Dancer Rail Trail which leads us to a dispersed camping area in Centuria. It’s a grassy field next to a town pavilion with water and bathrooms. It’s a little odd to be in a little neighborhood with a barking dog and a light shining from the electrical building near us but it works.
We soak up the local flavor at the sports bar where it’s bingo night! We order cheese curds and learn how to say B twenty tooo with a Wisconsin accent.
A great first day!
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