Stretching more than 1,000 miles through Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail traces the edge of the last glacier that covered North America, highlighting the finest features of the glacial landscape, as well as other scenic and natural resources. The moraines, eskers, erratics, kettles, drumlins, kames and dells (dalles) of the trail are sure to expand your knowledge of Earth’s icy past—as well as your vocabulary.

The Conservation Fund is working with local, state and federal agencies, as well as with private landowners and community organizations, to permanently protect new segments of the trail and create better public access.

Piecing the Trail Together

In 2008, the Fund partnered with the National Park Service and the Ice Age Trail Alliance to assist the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources in acquiring 915 acres from Wausau Paper Co. in Marathon County. The protection of this land conserves a critical 2.5-mile segment of the trail. The Wisconsin congressional delegation helped secure federal funding for the acquisition through the Land and Water Conservation Fund, and the state provided additional funding through its Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program.

In 2013, through our Land Conservation Loan Program (, we provided financing to the Ice Age Trail Alliance to purchase 156 acres on the trail in Taylor County. This new segment will provide better public access to the trail and will help connect the trail in the Town of Rib Lake with blocks of Taylor County Forest.

Also in 2013, we worked with the National Park Service (with assistance from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources) to add more than five acres in Dane County to the Ice Age National Scientific Reserve. The reserve consists of nine sites—six of which are united by the Ice Age Trail —and was created through federal legislation to protect, preserve and interpret the exceptional examples of glaciation in Wisconsin. The Dane County property sits on top of a glaciated hill and provides a spectacular view of where the unglaciated and glaciated areas meet. Part of the viewshed had been planned for residential development, which would have forever spoiled this remarkable landscape. Emphasizing their strong support for the trail and its importance to the state’s history, the Wisconsin congressional delegation again secured funding from the Land and Water Conservation Fund.

Why This Project Matters

Roughly half of the trail passes through privately owned land. Piecing these properties together is essential to telling the story of Wisconsin’s natural history, as well as creating one of the premier hiking trails in the country.


What is a drumlin? Learn more about glacial landscape features with the Ice Age Trail Alliance’s glossary.

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