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Topic: Ice Age Trail anyone?< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2013, 2:19 pm  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I'm starting to get into backpacking more around my area (I don't have the money to keep traveling the country and hiking right now) and next weekend I'm going to pack through Rusk county on the IAT.  Anyone on here have any suggestions for this region or other parts of the IAT?  Also, I have the IAT atlas and all through Rusk county is marked as legal "primitive camping" without fee or permit.  I'm still going to call the authorities and let them know I'm hiking there, but if anyone knows anything about how that works there and if there are any other things I might need a permit for, I'd appreciate the info.  Thanks.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2013, 7:35 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

In northern Rusk County are the Blue Hills, 1.6-billion year old quartzite roots of an ancient mountain range (like the Baraboo Hills).  The southern part of the county is similiar to Chippewa County, lots of lakes.

The IAT passes through Rusk County Forest land, so like with National Forests dispersed camping is allowed, though in Rusk County the Atlas shows a camping "corridor" along the trail, don't know whether campng is restricted to that marked zone or not.  Be aware though that county forests are managed primarilly for logging, and you most likely will run into clear-cut areas along the trail.  In fact, the IAT Companion Guide states that logging is evident on the Northern Blue Hills Segment.  You many want to contact the county to see if any recent logging operations have been done, for it may be impossible to follow the trail through a clear-cut area that hasn't been cleaned up and repaired (blazes replaced, etc.).  Not only that, but the trail itself may run along logging roads--not exactly scenic.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2013, 10:19 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Darn, I knew I should've gotten the companion guide as well.  In your opinion, what are the most scenic parts of the IAT?  I would love to get to know this trail because it's closer to home than where I've been hiking lately, but I can't seem to decide where exactly I want to hike.  I'm planning on somewhere around 3-5 day hikes if that narrows it down at all.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 07 2013, 11:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Depends on what you mean by "scenic", this isn't the Rockies or Sierra you know. :D  

I'm not familiar with much of the IAT in the norhern part of the state (just too far for me to go to regularly and much of the trail is a little too "wild" from lack of use).  I have been to the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area, and the IAT there is indeed real nice (Someone described it as being "more kettle morainey than the Kettle Moraine), there are even a few backpack camping sites.  Another area I want to get to someday is the Harrison Hills segment, it was featured on the show Discover Wisconsin when they were covering the IAT. A local chapter person described the elevation relief there as averaging 200 feet--that's some real rolleroaster landscape.  Othewise the northern trail is just trees, trees and more trees, with some small lakes and the possible logged area.  However, don't necessarliy write off Rusk County and the Blue Hills, it might not actually be that bad.  The trail could be fully hikeable, though it might not be pristiine in all areas.

One of the best scenic sections of the IAT though is one through the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.  It's a rugged rollercoaster through muh of the route, I think it was first blazed with a jeep. :D  Lots of eskers and kames and other moraine stuff.  It's shelter-only camping, though you don't actually have to stay IN the shelters.

For true scenic wilderness backpacking in the Greater Superior Area, you have to go to the Porcupine Mountains and Trap Hills (on the North Country Trail) in Michigan's UP
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 9:06 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I guess I would beg to differ with IceAgeHiker a bit.  I have hiked most of the Ice Age Trail through Taylor Co., and while he is correct that you are mostly traversing forest, there are some very neat spots there.  The Wood Lake segment is very nice, going by a nice, undeveloped lake and featuring a very nice stretch lined with hemlocks near Gus Johnson Creek which features some other small, remote lakes and wetlands.  West of there you have the Chequamegon NF sections.  Highlights here are the campsite on the Yellow River, which is in a really nice spot on some high ground along the river under some hemlocks, and the hemlock esker, which is basically a long, skinny, high formation that slopes down on both sides.  The only parts in Taylor Co. I haven't hit are most of the sections along the flowage, which is very nice as well and features another esker on the west side.  There are also some nice bogs in the area as well that the trail goes past and that you can combine with some loop trails there.  I also liked the East Lake segment a lot.  I have only hiked a bit of the Harrison Hills segment, but that area is nice and remote and there are some nice lakes it goes past.  He is right that the trail is a bit wild (but that's half the fun) and, due to the lack of volunteers, roughly built and sparsely maintained compared with southern segments.  But I would definitely recommend checking it out if you're up to it.

The North Country Trail has some great scenery in Wisconsin as well, especially Copper Falls, the Brule River State Forest, and some of the Penokee range in the Chequamegon NF, though Tom is more or less correct that if you want the real dramatic scenery the UP is your best bet or the Superior Hiking Trail in MN.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 10:50 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Right now I am planning on one of 3 routes, and I'm wondering which would be my best bet (eventually I'll hike all three and work my way south through various trips).  The first was Rusk county, the second was through Taylor County Chequemagon (park at Jerry lake and hike up and around the east side of the flowage and back down to my car, any thoughts?),  and the third (which I'm even more curious about, looks very pretty on the map) is in Lincoln county around Lookout Mountain.  Any input on either of those other routes?  From what you guys said, Taylor county seems like a good bet.  Ironically, the reason I chose some of those NW counties is because I am practicing my orienteering and training for an off-trail trip out west (which also means hilly is good).  My first choice would've been Lincoln County but I haven't really heard anything on that area.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 11:31 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Whoops, I just realized that Harrison Hills was the Lincoln County section I was talking about.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 08 2013, 2:04 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here's the description of the Harrison Hills segment from the IAT Companion Guide (you can download the descriptions from the IATA site, www.iceagetrail.org):

QUOTE
When the Wisconsin Valley lobe advanced, it most likely had a period where the lobe surged forward. Researchers have found that when today’s glaciers rapidly advance, they gather sediment on their surface, especially along the marginal edges. When the ice melts, deep kettles and high relief hummocks remain. In particular, hummocks are the result of glacial till and sediment in mudflows and slides coming to a halt. The easiest example of this sediment to visualize is the large boulders of a variety of rock types dispersed across the land. The Harrison Moraine that the Ice Age Trail traverses is noted for this spectacular high-relief topography, including many glacially deposited ridges and hills, such as Lookout Mountain. It is the highest point on the Ice Age Trail at 1,920 feet above sea level. Generally on public forest lands, this segment is remote and rugged. The Harrison Hills support a thriving wolf pack. Ongoing timber harvest within this segment could make it challenging to navigate at times. Contact the IATA for updated Trail conditions.

The segment begins near the Langlade/Lincoln county line. From the last segment in Langlade County turn right and go 0.2 miles on First Lake Rd. to its intersection with Parrish Rd. and Fish Lake Rd. The Ice Age Trail heads south off the road from the intersection and briefly climbs, then levels out, through a grassy meadow. For most of the segment, the route alternates between a footpath and grassy or dirt forest roads of various  ages and conditions. In addition, some ATV trails and logging roads criss-cross the Ice Age Trail route. Watch for signage, especially at intersections. The Ice Age Trail route for the most part is well-blazed; however, if you have not seen a yellow blaze in a while, return to the last one seen and look carefully at intersections. Full leaf coverage and the thick areas of forest cannot hide the outstanding geological and end moraine glacial topography the segment offers with its hummocky terrain and many kettles.

A popular fishing destination, the northeastern section of the segment passes many lakes. There are two angler campsites on Chain Lake, one between the west and center lobe approximately 100 feet off the Trail (LI37). The second campsite is located between the east and center lobes approximately 400 feet off the Trail (LI38).  By Bear Lake, an ATV trail parallels the Ice Age Trail.  Cross CTH-B next to the ATV parking area (which includes vaulted toilets). Climb steeply to the top of a moraine and follow it a short distance before dropping down to cross an ATV track. The Trail winds its way through deciduous forest dominated by oak and maple trees. The hike to Lookout Mountain should be relatively dry during normal weather conditions. The Ice Age Trail gradually reaches the top of Lookout Mountain (LI1), which is marred by numerous buildings, including a fire and radio tower. The old fire tower cabin is usually locked; however, the tower can be climbed almost to the top. From up high, the view to the southeast is of the Antigo Flats, a broad outwash plain formed in front of the melting ice. The view to the northwest is of undeveloped kettle lakes and the hummocky forested landscape.  

The Ice Age Trail continues on the southwest side of the base area under one of the radio tower’s guy-wires. From there, head generally south-southwest following the crest of a moraine, then continue in rolling topography for a distance. Beautiful undeveloped lakes seen from the Trail are easily iidentified on Ice Age Trail Atlas maps by their irregular shapes. It is common to see beavers swimming in some of the lakes at dusk. A few open timber harvest areas are reestablishing with what is called a “gap” forest. Pioneer plants, such as grasses, shrubs and raspberry bushes close in on the Trail and the new growth of aspen and birch trees offer little shade. These areas can be rough and confusing at times.  When the Trail reaches maintained gravel Turtle Lake Rd., turn left and go south 0.1 miles before continuing west up and over a rise. Within a few tenths of a mile, drop down and cross Beaver Trail Rd. Return to a grassy footpath and continue west. This area also has a network of public ATV trails. ATVs are often seen or heard nearby; however, the Ice Age Trail does not share any of the ATV trails. After winding through a clear-cut area, the Trail returns to the hardwood canopy. A bench offers a resting area near the North Branch of the Prairie River. The Trail skirts a portion of the end moraine as it makes its way toward a natural spring bubbling trailside. Intersect a high-clearance vehicle road and follow it west a short distance crossing over the Prairie River. Watch for signs to turn sharply left off the dirt road into rows of pines before reaching CTH-J in a grassy opening (LI3).


That's one thing to keep in mind, that logging is common in county forests, as they are not protected wilderness areas.

Oh, Rusk County may indeed not be too bad now, the Mobile Skills Crew was there in June:

QUOTE
Volunteers came to the Blue Hills area of the Ice Age Trail June 13-16 from throughout Wisconsin, and from Michigan, Iowa and Illinois to address overdue trail stewardship needs on an 18-mile-long project area. Seventy-three total volunteers contributed 2,047 hours.

More than 10 miles of trail was mowed, and future maintenance was made easier by removing rocks and other obstacles. More than five miles of trail signage was substantially upgraded. Four boardwalks and bridges nearing the end of their safe/useable lifespan were shored up. Volunteers made trailhead signs visible; updated stiles and fences; brought Pickerel Lake into view and more.
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 8:53 am Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Here are my photos from HWY 64 to HWY E, taken last fall.  I would email the chapter person about Harrison Hills though I know someone you could email who's BP'd it so you could PM me and I could forward on your email.  Also, I recommending contacting the chapter president (named Buzz, email at the site) for a shuttle.  With advance notice I bet you could find someone to do it.  There's also a Facebook group that might be able to help you out at https://www.facebook.com/groups/214797715197465/

http://sdrv.ms/12AG3yz
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 8:02 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've done hikes in Chippewa, Lincoln, Taylor and Langlade Counties recently.  i thought the Chippewa Moraine was pretty good, I did from 267th Ave to Cornell. I did it as two day hikes, but it could be done as an overnight backpacking trip.  Unfortunately, there are larger roadwalks on each side of it.

On this upcoming Saturday I am doing the Lake Eleven Segment starting at Hwy 64 in Taylor County and going to Hay Meadow Road.  That's about a 18 mile day hike, but Mike Duchek backpacked that section last October, and I joined him after Hay Meadow Road.  We ended at County Hwy E. It was a great Backpacking trip featuring the Hemlock Esker, which is very cool.

Also, In Lincoln County I've done the Underdown and Harrison Hills.  Starting at Horn Lake Road there's a really long stretch of trail that could be done in an extended backpacking trip.  The Harrison Hills connects with the Parrish Hills segment and continues down to Lowells Road. After that there is about a 5 mile roadwalk past the Bogus Swamp over to Camp Susan, then the trail continues for a very long ways down to the Kettle Bowl.  I haven't hiked the Parish Hills, but I have done the rest

Check out the photos of my trips at
http://sites.google.com/site/tmansiceagetrailtreks/
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PostIcon Posted on: Jul. 09 2013, 9:44 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks, everyone!

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