Monday, September 2, 2013

Enjoy Northwoods day hike on Ice Age Trail

Only a few miles of the 1200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail cross Burnett County, Wisconsin, and then only in its very remote southeast corner. Still, it’s worth the drive, especially for those seeking a walk among Northwoods autumn leaves.

An accessible Burnett County section for a day hike runs south of the Clam River State Fishery Area from Horseshoe Lake to just north of Offers Lake. This segment can shortened into a roughly 3-mile round-trip day hike, though.

To reach the trailhead, from Siren, Wis., take County Road B east. After driving several miles, turn right/south onto County Road H. Then turn left/east onto Boyd Road. In about a mile, you'll come to the trail, which is on either side of the road. Park well off the shoulder; there is no parking lot, but the road is little traveled.

Head north onto a mixed hardwoods forest, which makes for a pretty walk in autumn. The trail gradually descends a couple of hundred feet over a half-mile.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail essentially follows the edge of where the glacier last seen in these parts towered some 10,000 years ago. Much of Burnett County's terrain – from kettle lakes caused by melted glacier chunks to the flat sandy soil that is the remnant of Glacial Lake Grantsburg – were created during the last ice age.

After rounding a ridgeline, you'll begin traveling southeast on fairly level terrain.

In a little more than a half-mile from there, you’ll reach the South Fork Clam River, a Class I trout stream. This marks a good spot to turn back.

Be sure to bring insect repellent, as there are marshy areas along the way, especially near the river.

Read more about Wisconsin's family friendly day hiking trails in Headin' to the Cabin.