Ice Age Trail to be Rerouted in Potawatomi State Park

Trail-building project will draw hundreds of volunteers, Sept. 6-10

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Potawatomi State Park will be rerouted away from the existing shared-use ski and bike trail and onto the edge of the Niagara Escarpment – a geologic formation, which runs from Door County all the way to New York state. 

“With the re-route, hikers will be able to access the Eastern terminus during the winter without compromising the integrity of the groomed ski trails,” said Chad DuChateau, director of trail operations for the Ice Age Trail Alliance (Alliance). 

The large-scale trail-building reroute project will take place Sept. 6-10 at the park.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,200-mile footpath contained entirely within Wisconsin, traversing from St. Croix Falls in the west, to Sturgeon Bay in the east.

“Depending on your perspective, this segment [at Potawatomi State Park] is either the beginning or end of the Ice Age Trail,” DuChateau said. “And, the first (or last) mile of trail needed some improvements. While we were considering those, we took a broader view and decided to put in the work to create a better experience for all types of trail users.”

The project will include:

• Creating .6 miles of new tread along the escarpment;

• Building a 35-step, dolomitic-limestone staircase, which will take hikers to the top of the escarpment;

• Removing overgrown vegetation near the Eastern Terminus in preparation for future beautification efforts;

• Remediating closed, eroded trail to return it to a natural state; and

• Fixing trail signage. 

Nearly 150 Alliance volunteers from across the state will participate in the event. Many volunteers stay for the entire project, others come for a couple of days, or even for a few hours. 

On Saturday, Sept. 9, a large contingent of area boy scout troops will be at the project. 

“It’s always nice to have young people at the projects,” said Patrick Gleissner, trail operations coordinator. “Their energy and spirit pairs well with the expertise of our volunteer crew leaders.”

Funding for the project came from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Knowles-Nelson Stewardship program; the National Park Trust and National Park Service through a Challenge Cost Share grant; and the Dwight and Linda Davis Foundation.

It’s been more than 10 years since the last major Ice Age Trail Trail-building project at Potawatomi State Park. In April 2022, the rock marking the Eastern Terminus of the Trail was moved a few hundred yards west from a parking lot near pit toilets to its current location, which overlooks the old ski hill and offers views of Green Bay.  

The non-profit member and volunteer-based Alliance has been working since 1958 to conserve, create, maintain and promote the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. 

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