In the Verona area, the trail generally follows the Johnstown Moraine, a terminal moraine of the glacier's Green Bay Lobe.
A key figure in developing the trail was the late Ray Zillmer, a Milwaukee attorney and outdoorsman.
As far back as the 1920s, Milwaukee residents began to explore the Kettle Moraine's glacial ridges in southeast Wisconsin. The Milwaukee chapter of the Izaak Walton League purchased 850 acres around Moon Lake near Campellsport in 1926, and volunteers began building trails. In 1937, the state established Kettle Moraine State Forest.
In the 1950s, Zillmer envisioned the Kettle Moraine trails becoming part of a bigger linear park. In 1958, he founded the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation to push the establishment of a national park. Bills were introduced in Congress, but Zillmer died in 1960.
In 1961, the National Park Service said in a report that Wisconsin's glacial features were significant, but such a linear park was too difficult for the federal government to administer.
In 1964, the federal and state governments devised a new plan: nine separate units called the Ice Age Trail National Scientific Reserve. It was created in 1971 to protect glacially important sites.
The federally designated reserve includes Kettle Moraine, Interstate State Park at Saint Croix Falls, Chippewa Moraine near Bloomer, Mill Bluff State Park near Camp Douglas, Devils Lake State Park near Baraboo, Cross Plains (the only federally owned site) near Cross Plains, Horicon State Wildlife Area and National Wildlife Refuge near Horicon, Campbellsport Drumlins near Campbellsport, and Two Creeks Buried Forest near Two Rivers. Those units are generally connected by the trail.
In the early 1970s, volunteers began extending the Ice Age Trail beyond the Kettle Moraine, and the grass-roots Ice Age Trail Council was formed. In 1980, the trail was added by Congress to the National Trails System.
Supporters note than 60 percent of Wisconsin's population lives within 20 miles of the trail. It is also within 100 miles of 18 million Americans.
To date, the state of Wisconsin has permanently protected 7,000 acres. The alliance has added more than 3,000 acres, mostly in narrow conservation easements.
Camping and lodging are available in many areas. Backcountry shelters are available.
A warning: Hunting is permitted along the trail, so hikers are encouraged to wear orange in hunting seasons. Some sections may be closed in late November during deer-gun season.
The alliance has published a detailed trail guidebook for $20. An atlas of trail maps will cost $28.
For more information, contact the Ice Age Trail Alliance at 800-227-0046, http://www.iceagetrail.org. You can also contact the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources at 1-888-936-7463, http://dnr.wi.gov. Contact the National Park Service 608-441-5610, http://www.nps.gov/iatr.
Bob Downing: firstname.lastname@example.org