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Hike 40 Miles On Ice Age Trail During October Challenge

October Marks 40 Years Since Ice Age Has Been Designated National Scenic Trail

Ice Age Trail, hiking, Cameron Gille
Hikers walk along the Ice Age Trail. Photo courtesy of Cameron Gillie, AroundWisco

Hikers, runners and backpackers alike are invited to join a challenge in October to hike 40 miles of the Ice Age Trail in celebration of its 40th anniversary as a designated National Scenic Trail.

The Mammoth Hike Challenge runs throughout the month and asks participants to hike a total of 40 miles along the Ice Age Trail and visit trail communities nearby. Hiking can be done at any time, either all at once or piecemeal, on any section of the trail, and members of a team can add their miles together to meet the 40-mile goal.

This patch will be given to participants of the Mammoth Hike Challenge who hike 40 miles of the Ice Age Trail in October.
This patch will be given to participants of the Mammoth Hike Challenge who hike 40 miles of the Ice Age Trail in October. Photo courtesy of Amy Lord

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“It’s really up to you how you want to get your 40 miles in during October,” said Amy Lord, outreach and education manager for the Ice Age Trail Alliance.

Spanning about 1,200 miles across Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail forms the terminal moraine of the last Ice Age, which ended about 10,000 years ago. The terminal moraine is the edge of the glacier where debris that’s been picked up and pushed forward by the glacier is deposited in a big heap. The trail runs from western Wisconsin east to about Langlade, south to Janesville and north again to Sturgeon Bay.

Registration is required to participate in the challenge, which is free. Once participants have completed the 40 miles, they will need to submit a completion form. By registering, participants will receive an itinerary for the hike and get access to the SriveON app to help plan the hike.

As part of the challenge, participants can keep track of their miles logged with an Excel spreadsheet hiking log, and those who meet the challenge will be given a limited-edition patch and certificate.

Lord said the Ice Age Trail is one of only 11 National Scenic Trails, including the Appalachian, Pacific Crest and Potomac Heritage. The Ice Age Trail earned the designation in early October 1980.

The idea for the challenge came up early in the pandemic, when the stay-at-home order was in place, Lord said. She said with the renewed interest people had in getting outdoors and hiking, the alliance opted to celebrate in a way that was safe and responsible.

“We want this to be fun,” Lord said, adding that participants can opt to do the same two miles of trail 20 times over, or they can hike 40 contiguous miles. “We want people to get out and explore.”

Part of the challenge is to stop in trail communities, which partner with the alliance as hiker destinations along the trail. The communities are Lodi, Cross Plains, Verona, Janesville, Delafield, Hartland, Manitowoc-Two Rivers, Whitewater, Singer, West Bend, Milton, St. Croix Falls and Cornell.

Lord said whether it’s buying gas, getting carry-out, getting snacks at the grocery store, any amount spent in the communities can help. While visiting three communities is ideal, the challenge requires visiting at least one.

“We know our local communities have had a financial impact with what’s been going on,” she said. “So we’re just encouraging our hikers to support any way that they can.”

Lord said she’ll be hiking near St. Croix Falls and Cornell the first weekend in October. She’ll be in Verona Oct. 10 and in the Cross Plains area Oct. 11. Monty the Mammoth, the Alliance’s mascot, will make an appearance at the locations, too.

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