You Can Hike the Same Path as Mammoths and Saber Tooth Tigers at This Midwest National Park

Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail is nearly 1,200 miles long.

<p>Reagan Courier/Getty Images</p>

Reagan Courier/Getty Images

Ever wanted to experience life as an ice age animal? Then now may be the time to go for a hike down the nearly 1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Located throughout the state of Wisconsin, hikers and nature lovers can discover this epic trail that was once inhabited by some of the Earth’s most majestic animals.

“A mere 15,000 years ago during the Ice Age, much of North America lay under a huge glacier,” the National Park Service (NPS) explains. “Mammoths, saber-tooth cats, and cave lions roamed the Earth! Some of the best evidence of this glacier is found in Wisconsin such as the state’s many lakes, river valleys, gently rolling hills, and ridges.”

<p>Courtesy of NPS</p>

Courtesy of NPS

Though the trail already encompasses thousands of miles, it’s still a work in progress thanks to a partnership between the NPS, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, and the Ice Age Trail Alliance, which all work to preserve and expand its presence. At the time of publication, roughly half the Ice Age Trail is complete. (The trail was recognized as a park under the NPS in December 2023.)

“The Ice Age Trail is more than a path through the woods,” the Ice Age Trail Alliance shares on its website. “It is a place for mental and physical rejuvenation, a place to unwind after a hard day and enjoy the landscape of Wisconsin. More than one million people use the Ice Age Trail each year to hike and snowshoe, to backpack, to disconnect and reconnect.”

According to the Alliance, the route generally follows the “last outline of the most recent glacier.” Along the way, hikers can spot geologic features including kames (sediment mounds), lakes, drumlins, ice-walled-lake plains, tunnel channels, and more.

The Alliance adds, as you walk the Ice Age Trail, “your footsteps will take you back in time almost 2 billion years.” On the trail, hikers will walk through millions of years of the earth’s history, including seeing the rock outcrops at Grandfather Falls, Lincoln County, and Eau Claire Dells (mylonite), Marathon County, which the Alliance says date back some 1.8 billion years.

Ready to hike it yourself? Check out more on the hike’s NPS website here, or plan a visit via the Ice Age Trail Alliance now. Once you’re done with your hike, consider donating to the alliance to ensure the trail stays just as magnificent for billions of years to come.

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