Thursday, December 17, 2015

Hike edge of ancient glacier in Wisconsin

North of Cumberland, Wis, a fairly flat segment of the expansive Ice Age National Scenic Trail runs at the edge of where the glacier last seen in these parts towered some 10,000 years ago. The hike to Grassy Lake and back makes for just under 4 miles round trip.

To reach the trail, from Cumberland drive north on U.S. Hwy. 63 into Washburn County. At Brick Yard Road, go right/east. At the next intersection, turn right/south onto Old Hwy. 63; park off this road across from the Pershing Road intersection.

The trail unofficially heads east alongside Pershing Road. You’ll pass bucolic farm fields at first, but the trial grows increasingly forested as heading east. Typical Northern hardwoods – maples and oaks – with scattered pines line the route.

At about 0.75 miles, the trail turns left/north. This now official segment of the Ice Age Trail runs on public land. If you feel uncomfortable leaving your car along the highway or want to shorten your walk, this is a good alternative for parking (though it’ll still have to be off the road).

Some 11,000 years ago, this area was beneath a towering glacier, only miles away from its leading edge to the south. The glacier crushed and flattened the landscape, and remnants of it formed many of the lakes seen across northern Wisconsin by depressing the land and melting.

For the next 1.25 miles, the trail roughly parallels the shoreline of Grassy Lake, though you’re never closer than 200 feet to it. The lake covers 38 acres.

The trail soon curves east, briefly paralleling the Grassy Lake’s north shore. When the trail swerves north again, you’ve reached the turn-back point.

Upon reaching 65th Avenue, you’ve gone 1.5 miles. This marks a good spot to head back.

Learn about nearby trails in Day Hiking Trails of Washburn County.