A Little Time and a Keyboard: Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to Spectacular Views in Janesville, Wisconsin

Saturday, October 10, 2020

Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to Spectacular Views in Janesville, Wisconsin

Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to Spectacular Views in Janesville, Wisconsin

Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail including Devil's Staircase in Janesville, Wisconsin

** Disclosure: Thank you to the Janesville Area Convention & Visitors Bureau for hosting us and accommodating our visit. All opinions are 100% my own.

The natural charms of Wisconsin's Ice Age National Scenic Trail in Janesville transported us far from the every day. Hiking along the southernmost portion of the trails we appreciated the forces of nature that molded this intriguing landscape. 

Sometimes I pause along trails wondering what stories old trees have to tell. The Ice Age Trail certainly has many stories along its trails!
Sometimes I pause along trails wondering what stories old trees have to tell. The Ice Age Trail certainly has many stories along its trails!

The Ice Age Trail connects a variety of green spaces, neighborhoods and attractions in Janesville. Much of the trail in this area is paved and perfect for a variety of recreational uses including biking, rollerblading, walking and running. We opted to hike on the more rustic sections of the Ice Age Trail wandering over rolling dirt paths. I feel totally away enveloped by nature and feeling a natural path under my feet.

Fun Fact: Janesville has more miles of the Ice Age National Trail within city limits than any other community.

The Ice Age National Scenic Trail Marker greeted us as we started the trail.
The Ice Age National Scenic Trail Marker greeted us as we started the trail.

Across Wisconsin, the Ice Age National Scenic trail encompass a thousand miles of hiking trails highlighting the state's Ice Age formations reflecting on the state's glacial past. Each section introduces hikers to a unique landscape. The two sections of Janesville's portion of the trail we hiked each presented distinctive natural features. 

The forest enveloped us as we hiked along the Ice Age Trail in Janesville.
The forest enveloped us as we hiked along the Ice Age Trail in Janesville.

We capped off one of our getaway days with an early evening hike along the portion of the Ice Age Trail that ambles through the Robert O. Cooke Memorial Arboretum. A rugged trail guided us through a deeply forested area. Dips and turns added a interesting element with special perspectives. Rolls in the trails definitely remind you have how glaciers sculpted the region.

Away from it all on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Away from it all on the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Throughout the dense forest, we delighted in spotting a range of birds. Bird calls truly brought alive the forest!  Eventually, we dipped out of the forest a bit hiking through a prairie and spying some deer enjoying nibbles. Once through the prairie, we reentered the forest. Forest bathing is quite the splendid way to relax in the evening surrounded by the charms of nature. While the irregular terrain provided for a gentle challenge, the sounds and sights of nature transported us for the evening. Twist and turns also ushered in interesting views and vantage points. Splendid!

Devil's Staircase Rolls on a Bluff Above the Rock River
Devil's Staircase Rolls on a Bluff Above the Rock River

Hiking the Rolling Devil's Staircase Portion of the Ice Age Trail Up Above the Rock River

For an even bigger challenge with breathtaking landscape, we headed over to the Devil's Staircase portion of the Ice Age Trail the following day. We did hike this section before -- late in the fall -- and found it entirely spellbinding. Seeing it in another season further cemented our love for this trail. 

Cliffs along the Devil's Staircase certainly impress!
Cliffs along the Devil's Staircase certainly impress!

Rambling and rolling Devil's Staircase takes hikers up on a bluff along the Rock River. We hiked along the impressive side of a sandstone and limestone escarpment. In spots, hiking takes you very much on the edge with the river below. The trail does descend down to the river. The entire hike unfolds spectacularly picturesque views throughout.

Craggy rock features, ferns and moss meld picturesque scenery at Devil's Staircase in Janesville, Wisconsin.
Craggy rock features, ferns and moss meld picturesque scenery.

Sculpted and craggy rock faces dotted with moss and ferns reaching down to a forest floor full of a meld leaves, moss and plans craft a wonderland. Throughout the trail, we savored spectacular view after spectacular view. Hiking Devil's Staircase provides such a novel experience amazing visitors with fantastic views and experiences.

Marveling at nature along the Devil's Staircase Portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.
Marveling at nature along the Devil's Staircase Portion of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

Hiking Tip: Check with the Ice Age Trail Alliance for more info on the trail, helpful suggestions, itineraries and challenges.

Celebrating a National Treasure:

This year, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is celebrating 40 years! After an effort begun in 1958 by Raymond Zillmer to establish a National Park encompassing trails marking the glacial history of Wisconsin, the Ice Age Trail finally joined the National Trails System when President Jimmy Carter signed the law establishing the Ice Age National Scenic Trail on October 3, 1980. Today's trail reflects the work of hundreds volunteers over the years to establish trails and maintain them. What a remarkable treasure! Once you have hiked this natural treasure, you will yearn for more. We look forward to return hikes in the Janesville area as well as experiencing new-to-us-segments of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail.

For more on Janesville, see my post: A Weekend Full of Art, History, Nature and Foodie Discoveries in Janesville, WI: A Complete Getaway for Couples 

Hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail  to Spectacular Views in Janesville, Wisconsin


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