Sunday, September 20, 2015

Chippewa Moraine Recreation Area offers variety of day hiking trails to explore ice age

Ice Age Interpretive Center at Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area.
Photo courtesy of Wisconsin DNR.
Day hikers can walk amid several lakes and ponds, all created during the last ice age, at the Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area and Ice Age National Scientific Reserve near New Auburn, Wis.

The recreation area sits atop a 10-mile long moraine, a landform of rocks, gravel and debris pushed together by bulldozing glaciers. It was formed about 12,000 years ago as the most recent ice age came to an end in these parts.

To reach the recreation area, from U.S. Hwy. 53 in New Auburn, go east on County Road M. The rec area is in 7 miles; watch for signs for the David R. Obey Ice Age Interpretive Center, which is on the left/north. The interpretive center is a good spot to start any of the trails, as it offers several displays about the ice age and local natural and cultural history.

Among the trails to hike are:
Circle Trail – The 4.5-mile loop circles both North and Shout Shattuck Lake as well as several ponds. A variety of access points exist for the trail, but the interpretive center is a good spot to park and start the hike.
Dry Lake Trail – The 1.8-mile loop passes five ponds. It starts near the interpretive center.
Ice Age National Scenic Trail – The 1200-mile statewide trail runs roughly where the glacier reached its farthest southern extent during the last ice age. It cuts east-west across the recreation area. From the interpretive center, access it via the Circle Loop.
Mammoth Nature Trail –The 0.75-mile loop passes three ponds. It also starts near the interpretive center.


Learn more about Chippewa Valley day hiking trails in my Day Hiking Trails of the Chippewa Valley guidebook.