More than 130 volunteers from around Wisconsin helped transform a simple, straight-line footpath into a finely tuned, engaging hiking experience.
The newly renovated Hartman Creek segment of the Ice Age Trail is part of a 1,000-mile-long national scenic trail.
“This project was a boon for the Ice Age Trail in our neck of the woods,” said Debbie Krogwold, coordinator of the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s Waupaca County volunteer chapter. “Not only did our volunteer crews craft a beautiful new trail at Hartman Creek State Park, we also made upgrades to existing sections of the Ice Age Trail in the Emmons Creek State Fisheries Area and on privately owned lands. It’s a great time to hit the Ice Age Trail in Portage and Waupaca counties.”
As with all segments of the Ice Age Trail, the Hartman Creek and Emmons Creek segments are open for walking, hiking, snowshoeing and ungroomed cross-country skiing. The segments straddle the Portage-Waupaca county line and highlight whispering white pine and majestic oak trees and native prairie remnants where black-eyed Susan, lupine and many other plant species seen by early Wisconsin pioneers still thrive.
A map of the trail can be found at waupaca.iceagetrail.org/hike-the-chapter.
The reroute and trail upgrades were finished during a recent Ice Age Trail Alliance Mobile Skills Crew event. Volunteers spent more than 3,000 hours June 21-24 to handcraft about 4,000 feet of new Ice Age Trail tread; build and install kiosks; add updated signage at two trailheads; paint sharp, crisp yellow blazes; and maintain and upgrade an additional 3 1/2 miles of trail.
A significant contribution to the project outcomes came from the Turner family, who offered their farm and business, Turner’s Fresh Market & Greenhouses, as a base camp for the volunteers.
Through the MSC program, all volunteers were given thorough training on trail construction techniques along with free meals and a place to camp. Aspiring volunteer trail builders can learn about other upcoming MSC events around Wisconsin at mobileskills.iceagetrail.org/mobile-skills-crew-calendar.
Volunteers are needed to care for the new segment and keep it in good shape for trail users. Anyone interested in getting involved can get contact information for the Waupaca County and Portage County chapters at <a target="_blank" href="http://www.iceagetrail.org/volunteer-chapters.” target=”_blank”>www.iceagetrail.org/volunteer-chapters.
The Ice Age Trail, one of only 11 national scenic trails, is a 1,000-mile footpath highlighting Wisconsin’s world-renowned Ice Age heritage and natural resources. In central Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail follows a north-south route along the Portage/Waupaca county line, highlighting the beautiful, glacially formed terrain of the Emmons Creek State Fishery Area; Hartman Creek State Park; Skunk and Foster Lakes State Natural Area; and Iola Winter Sports Club.
The Ice Age Trail Alliance is a nonprofit volunteer- and member-based organization established in 1958 that works to create, support and protect the Ice Age Trail.
Visit www.iceagetrail.org for hiking information and volunteer opportunities.