Friday, January 24, 2014

10 unique places on the Ice Age Trail, so far

Back in December I finally decided to add up all the miles of the Ice Age Trail that I have hiked and it came up to 676 miles.  I have done three hikes since which solidly puts me over 700 miles completed.  So, it’s time to take a look back at some of the most unique and unusual places I’ve visited on the Ice Age Trail so far.  I have listed ten places that have caught my fancy and imagination.  They are listed in no particular order. I do admit that I am holding back a little bit.  I have some unusual places to spare, which I will use for another blog entry when I complete the next 400 miles.  So here we go

The World’s Only Pulp Wood Stacker in Cornell
According to its Historical Marker “The 175 foot tall Cornell Pulpwood Stacker remains as an impressive reminder of the great logging industry that dominates this part of Wisconsin.”  The stacker was built in 1912 and was used until 1972.   The stacker moved large quantities of logs used for papermaking from the Chippewa River and stacked them into large woodpiles.  The area around the Pulpwood stacker is now a park complete with a Visitors Center.  I remember seeing the Pulpwood Stacker off in the distance as I hiked south to Cornell along Hwy CC.
(In Photo: Myself, Will Luedtke and Jared Wildenradt)

Hartland Alley
Kevin Doxtater and I hiked along the parks and streets of Hartland about a week before Christmas in 2013. When we got to Hill Street, a main business district street, we had a hard time figuring out which way the IAT went.  It seems that Christmas Decorations on the street posts covered up the Ice Age Trail urban blazes.  But, after some looking around, I finally figured out where the IAT goes.  It goes down an Alley.  That’s right, it goes down a narrow alley between two businesses, then it crosses a creek into a park.  I’ve never seen a National Scenic Trail go down an alley before.

Sunburst Ski Area
There are many places on the Ice Age Trail where you can see people skiing.  The IAT roadwalk near Merrimac goes right next to Devil’s Head Ski Area, the roadwalk in Slinger goes next to Little Switzerland, and of course there is the Kettle Bowl where you walk along the base of the mountain.  But the Sunburst Ski Area near West Bend stands out beyond all the rest. Because at Sunburst, the IAT comes out right at the top of one of the Ski Runs and you actually walk next to the tow rope to descend the hill. This is an odd configuration for sure, but the people skiing seem to be used to it.


Monroe Grasslands
Heading North from Chicago Road near Coloma in the Mecan Springs Segment, you will soon find yourself in a huge grassland area.  This grassland once was part of a farm owned by Gordon and Joanne Monroe, who still live just east of the parcel.  It’s one of the biggest grassland areas that the IAT passes through and the rolling hills makes it even more impressive.  Walking through the middle of this big wide-open space just gives you a wonderful feeling.  It’s just as simple as that.  I talked with Gordon and Joanne Monroe and they seemed really happy that they sold part of their farm to the Ice Age Trail for everyone to enjoy. Full disclosure, Joanne Monroe is my mom’s cousin and I remember visiting the farm when I was a youngster.

The Bogus Swamp
If Bill and Ted were to have an excellent adventure in a swamp, it would have to be the Bogus Swamp near the town of Summit Lake.  That’s right, the swamp is not really a swamp.  It’s more of a patterned peatland, if you know what that is.  And, evidently it is extremely rare because there is just one other patterned peatland in Wisconsin. The Bogus Swamp is an 850-acre State Natural Area that hosts a variety of rare plants, butterflies and birds, so there’s nothing bogus about that, dude. (In Photo: Myself, Jared Wildenradt and Will Luedtke)

 Hillbilly Hilton
In the Langlade County Forest north of Antigo there is an old logging camp.  That’s not unusual, but this old logging camp has one remaining structure, a fieldstone basement building with a sod roof called the Hillybilly Hilton. This little dugout has two bed bunks that also serve as the seats for a table, a woodstove and a little kitchen area with pots and pans.  Evidently, from talking to Joe Jopek of the Langlade County Chapter, the Ice Age Trail has very little to do with the Hillbilly Hilton.  Sure, hikers and backpackers can stay overnight in the little dugout, but the building was fixed up by a couple of deer hunters who wanted a hunting shack.  (In Photo: Betty Schraith, Gloria Luedtke, Will Luedtke, Jared Wildenradt and Myself)

University of Wisconsin Golf Course.
A lot of people get their exercise by walking around at a Golf Course.  But this is a little different because the Ice Age Trail runs right through the University of Wisconsin Golf course.  The trail goes in the woods and grasslands between the fairways and at one point goes very near the Clubhouse, so you can stop by for some refreshments.  This is something I’ve never seen before, a National Scenic Trail designed into a golf course.  To me, hiking and golfing are very similar, except for in hiking you don’t have to chase after a little white ball.

Grandfather Falls and Dam
It’s kind of weird to list these two features together, but they are right next to each other, so that’s the reason.   North of Merrill, Wisconsin, Grandfather Falls is the largest falls on the Wisconsin River.  A truly scenic area where the Ice Age Trail visits on both sides of the Wisconsin River.  Grandfather Dam just north of the falls is an unusual dam because it uses huge wooden tubes called penstocks that the water shoots down through to turn the turbines.  This is one of the most powerful and efficient dams on the Wisconsin River. It’s so unusual to see a unique natural site and a unique man made site right next to each other. (In Photo: Jared Wildenradt)

Stone Elephant
South of Palmyra in the Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest lies a rock formation known as the Stone Elephant.  When you reach the side trail and see the rock you begin to wonder what the heck they are talking about.  It really doesn’t look that much like an elephant.  Then it hits you, it looks like an elephant’s face with a large elephant trunk.  I guess the rock is a little mislabeled. Instead of being called the Stone Elephant, it should be called the Stone Elephant’s Face.  In a way it kind of reminds me of Mooseface Rock on the Kekekabic Trail up in the Boundary Waters.  The Stone Elephant isn’t that big of a rock, I’d say about 5 feet tall.  So, you can easily climb up on top of it an get your picture taken conquering the Stone Elephant. (In Photo: Jared Wildenradt)

North of North Shuttuck Lake
Normally when someone talks about the Chippewa Moraine, they say what a great Visitor Center is located there.  The Chippewa Moraine, located northwest of Cornwell, is really well done.  Besides the great Visitor Center it has nice backcountry campsites and the Circle Trail that uses the Ice Age Trail as part of its loop.  There are many lakes in this area including the two biggest, South Shuttuck Lake and North Shuttuck Lake.  The Ice Age Trail goes along the shoreline of North Shuttuck Lake and also goes next to a lake north of it. That lake happens to be named North of North Shuttuck Lake.  It’s a nice enough lake without any overly outstanding features, but the name sets it apart. I get a kick out of the name  every time I see it. Fortunately, there isn’t a lake directly south of South Shuttuck Lake.

What unique places will make my next list? Find out when I finish the Trail

For More photos of my hikes go to Tman's Ice Age Trail Treks website at