Ice Age National Scenic Trail - History
By National Park Service
Jan 25, 2005, 13:43

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Ice Age National Scenic Trail


Imagine a public greenway meandering across Wisconsin's glacial landscape. Imagine a trail 1,200 miles long leading both to places of glacial beauty close to home and to some of the remotest parts of Wisconsin. That is what the late Ray Zilmer of Milwaukee had in mind in the 1950's when he proposed that an Ice Age Glacier National Forest Park be established along the entire length of the moraines marking the furthest advance of the last glacier in Wisconsin. An avid hiker, he proposed a continuous footpath, similar to the Appalachian Trail, as the central feature of the park so that visitors could explore and enjoy the glacial landscape at their own pace.

In 1958 the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation was established by a group of Wisconsin citizens to promote the creation of the national glacial park. As the effort to win Congressional authorization of the park gained momentum, volunteers were already at work building the first segments of the future Ice Age Trail in the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The result of these efforts was the creation, in 1971, of the nine-unit Ice Age National Scientific Reserve to be administered by the State of Wisconsin in cooperation with, and with assistance from, the National Park Service. The nine Reserve units contain only portions of the glacial park proposed by Zilmer.

Congress recognized the national significance of the trail and the efforts to establish it in October 1980 by designating it a National Scenic Trail (NST). The Wisconsin legislature also responded to the need to protect the trail by designating it Wisconsin's first State Scenic Trail in 1987.

Today, approximately 300 miles of the trail have been certified by the National Park Service as part of the Ice Age NST. Certification indicates the segment is developed and managed in accordance with approved trail plans and entitles the segment to be marked with the official trail emblem. An additional 250 of completed trail segments are also open for public use and enjoyment.

Source: National Park Service
Source URL: http://www.nps.gov/iatr/expanded/home.htm Read the unedited version of this article.

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