Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Wisconsin

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs through Devils Lake State Park.  When Tom and I went to the Devils Lake Visitor Center, I was able to stamp my Passport Book with the Ice Age Trail stamp.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail meanders 1,200 miles across the state of Wisconsin.  The trail traces the path of the moraines left by the last major glaciers 15,000 years ago.  The trail was established in 1980 to preserve outstanding landscapes and features resulting from glaciation.  Although only 680 miles of the trail are currently developed for hiking, more of the trail is finished each year.  The trail is a partnership with the Ice Age Trail Alliance, the National Park Service, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.


Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson was instrumental in developing the legislation that led to the National Trails System Act of 1968.  In 1971, nine area of Wisconsin were set aside to become Ice Age national Scientific Reserves.  Devils Lake State Park is one of the nine areas.  Six of these scientific reserves are connected by the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

There are 11 National Scenic Trails, the most famous being the Appalachian Trail.  The trails are “intended to showcase our country’s spectacular natural resources and beauty, National Scenic Trails are routes of outstanding recreation opportunity. These routes are primarily non-motorized continuous trail and extend for 100 miles or more. The routes traverse beautiful terrain, and connect communities, significant landmarks and public lands.” (Taken from the National Scenic Trails website).

Tom and I walked on the western end of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail last summer when we were at the Interstate State Park on the border of Minnesota and Wisconsin.  The East Bluff Trail in Devils Lake State Park is also part of the Ice Age Trail.

Because the Ice Age Trail runs along the moraines, it provides a beautiful contrast between the areas of Wisconsin that were glaciated and those that were not.  As you look at the map of the trail, you can see the extent of the glaciated Ice Age in Wisconsin.  The Ice Age National Scenic Trail headquarters is in Cross Plains, Wisconsin, just west of Madison.