Ice Age Trail at Devil’s Lake offers heavenly wandering

Wisconsin’s Ice Age Trail is unique for several reasons, including its lack of directness compared to most of the other 10 National Scenic Trails.

Its S-shaped path terminates in the east near Sturgeon Bay and in the west on the St. Croix River. Driving directly between each terminus would require a trip of about 320 miles. Yet the trail winds about for some 1,120 miles, plus an extra 80 or so for a bifurcation that occurs at Devil’s Lake State Park.

Only the North Country Trail, which runs 4,600 miles through eight states (including northern Wisconsin), comes close to the meandering nature of the Ice Age.  But it is a relatively flattened S in comparison.

Most national trails look more or less like fairly direct lines from one end to another when viewed as a whole.  For me, the wandering Ice Age is more charming. The trail beckons as a way of seeing our fine state rather than plowing through it from beginning to end.

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Hiking Lodi in winter? Yes, peas

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Never put off until better weather a hike that’s perfectly wonderful today.

That was my experience for the Lodi Marsh and Eastern Lodi Marsh segments of Wisconsin’s 1,120-mile Ice Age Trail. When planning my next IAT excursion, I frequently deliberate over whether summer’s flowering or fall color increase a segment’s appeal. But this past Saturday, I decided it was simply time to go enjoy the Lodi area despite the chance of a snowstorm.

Along with frequent hiking buddy Chris Sadler, I already had walked roughly 12 miles on three segments from Lodi north to Gibraltar Rock (a beloved overlook)  and the Merrimac ferry on the Wisconsin. We agreed it was a favorite hike, in no small part because we enjoyed Lodi so much.

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