Ice Age Trail Alliance acquires land to grow in Manitowoc and Waupaca counties

MANITOWOC — Hikers, get out your maps … Wisconsin’s Ice Age National Scenic Trail is on the grow.

The Ice Age Trail Alliance acquired two properties in Waupaca and Manitowoc counties that are now permanently protected to be part of the trail. The nonprofit Alliance used its own funding to buy the land.

Sixty acres in the town of Schleswig, Manitowoc County, will host more than three-quarters of future Ice Age Trail. This property increases the size of the Alliance’s Brownrigg-Heier Preserve to 316 acres. It also closes a gap by connecting the preserve to Manitowoc County park property, which hosts the 2.3-mile Walla Hi Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

“Our map for this area used to look a lot lie a checkerboard, but over time, it has become much more unified,” said Kevin Thusius, director of Land Conservation for the IAT Alliance, in a news release.

“Now, these uninterrupted acres can benefit from a cohesive management plan that promotes healthy habitats for native plant and animal species,” Thusius added.

He also said this land is important to protect because of its location, as well as its glacial geology.

“This Walla-Hi area represents one of the northernmost pieces of Kettle Moraine topography, which means steep, rolling hills and dry kettles sticking up from mostly flat terrain,” Thusius said.

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The property can be used for a new 2.5-mile section of the Ice Age Trail and connect to the existing trail in Walla Hi County Park.

In addition, the Alliance purchased 28 acres of land in the town of Scandinavia in Waupaca County. This land eventually will host more than a quarter mile of trail in the county.

Tucked between Skunk and Foster Lakes State Natural Area, the acquired land eliminates a current Ice Age Trail road walk. Since it’s adjacent to public land, the new site increases the acreage available for recreation and ecological restoration.

Hikers will especially enjoy the property’s varied terrain — wetlands, mixed hardwood forest and rolling glacial topography, Thusius said.

Protecting land is the first step to completing the Ice Age Trail, according to the news release.

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Once the land is protected, the Alliance develops a management plan that determines property uses and future developments, such as trail and camping locations. State and federal reviews are required. Once approvals are received, construction can begin on the trail and parking lots, boundaries are marked and signage is installed.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail is a 1,200-mile footpath contained entirely within Wisconsin. It traverses the state from St. Croix Falls in the west to Sturgeon Bay in the east, going as far south as Janesville. One of 11 National Scenic Trails, the Ice Age Trail highlights the landscapes that were carved out by ancient glaciers. About 60% of Wisconsin residents live within 20 miles of the Ice Age Trail.

Contact reporter Patti Zarling at or call 920-606-2575. Follow her on X @PGPattiZarling or on Instagram @PGPatti.

This article originally appeared on Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter: Ice Age Trail acquires land to grow in Manitowoc, Waupaca counties

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