Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail is a national treasure, a 1,200-mile footpath that follows the path of the last glacier to cover Wisconsin. The trail is rugged and beautiful, and it’s open all year. In the winter, it’s a spectacular place for a snowshoeing adventure—trekkers are treated to some of the state’s best winter scenery and tranquility. The Ice Age Trail Alliance even maintains a snow depth map to help you plan for your hike! Here are a few places to explore the Ice Age Trail this winter.
Along the shores of Lake Michigan
On its trip south along the eastern edge of Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail passes through Manitowoc County, giving hikers and snowshoers a chance to explore segments in Manitowoc, Two Rivers, and surrounding communities. Just north of Two Rivers, the trail passes through Point Beach State Forest, which has several other hiking, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing loops open to visitors in the winter. Additional Ice Age Trail segments pass through the city of Two Rivers and the city of Manitowoc. Learn more about the Manitowoc-Two Rivers segment here.
Some beautiful snowshoeing can be found in the rolling terrain of northern Wisconsin. A parking area for the Ice Age Trail can be found on First Lake Road, on the borders of Lincoln and Langlade counties. Take the trail east into Langlade County and discover a bit of the 130,000-acre Langlade County Forest. Or head west into Lincoln County, where you’ll find more than 100,000 acres of county forest open to the public. The trail will take you through some wild and remote areas, but lodging is available a short drive from the trail. See hotels, motels, resorts and other lodging options in Tomahawk and neighboring Oneida County.
Easy access from big cities
Some stretches of the Ice Age trail may be easier to reach than you think. In West Bend (a short drive northwest of Milwaukee and about 75 miles from Madison), the off-road portions of the trail pass through Ridge Run Park, the Glacial Blue Hills Recreation Area and the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. All these parks offer scenic hiking through glacial terrain and have parking lots near the trail. Longer-distance trail trekking is possible in the Kettle Moraine State Forest, a short drive north of West Bend. Park on County Hwy H and follow the trail north.
The Blue Hills
The trail section in Rusk County covers about 12 miles, taking snowshoers into the beautiful Blue Hills, the remnants of an ancient mountain range. The trail traverses rolling stretches of hardwood forest, winding paths and historic logging roads. Find the trailhead for the Ice Age Trail in the Rusk County Forest, located near the Murphy Flowage Recreational Area in the northwestern portion of Rusk County. You can pick up the southern edge of the Rusk County trail segment off County Highway O west of Weyerhaeuser. There’s no parking lot, but space to park on the side of the road.
Winter trail tips
The Ice Age Trail Alliance has some good advice to keep your trail adventure safe and enjoyable. Here are some of their tips.
- Plan ahead and start early
- Keep an eye on the weather
- Bring a friend
- Dress in layers
- Invest in good winter gear
- Pack safety gear
- Stay hydrated