Monday, January 25, 2016

The Brooklyn Wildlife Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail

Section hiking the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) is my winter treat. At the pace I'm going, looks like I'll enjoy this treat for many winters to come. After parking on Frenchtown Road at the tee made with Pillar Road in Belleville, I began to hike the 2.5 mile (4 km) portion of the Montrose Segment leftover from my last IAT hike before heading into the 3.5 mile (5.6 km) Brooklyn Wildlife Area. As I stepped from the car I enjoyed watching the fat, red moon from the night before setting and heard an owl call.

After climbing a hill between two fields, I followed the trail through a wooded area, turned briefly west, then headed back to the east, walking up through a field. The woods offered views of exposed sandstone bedrock peeking out through the snow, while the fields offered expansive views of the surrounding lowlands.  Headed south once again, I followed the trail through the fields. 

Scaring up the occasional rabbit, I passed through another wooded area, down a ridge, through another field, and back into the woods. After a bit of climbing, I arrived at an open prairie with a bench and more nice views. I followed the trail northeast for a bit, across a prairie where a dispersed camping area (DCA), meant for multi-day hikers only, can be found on a spur trail just before the trail re-enters the woods. After passing through the woods, I found myself at the end of the Montrose Segment on County Highway D.

Prairie on the Montrose Segment of the IAT.

Bedrock outcropping on the Montrose Segment of the Ice Age Trail.

Across County Highway D, I entered the Brooklyn Wildlife Segment. The Brooklyn Wildlife Segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail straddles Dane County and Green County. The Brooklyn Wildlife Segment consists of of hills and wetlands. It is mostly wooded with the occasional open area.

On this Segment, there are spur trails and cross trails that can be confusing. Keeping an eye out for yellow blazes helped me stay on track. About halfway down the trail, I passed through an open area and enjoyed a nice view of the wetlands below. Just after this, I passed from Dane County to Green County. I hiked past a hand pump, and followed the trail as it made a brief hairpin, then headed south to the Hughes Road parking area. At the parking area, I turned around hiked the hike in reverse, backtracking back to the car.

On the backtrack, the sun came out from behind the clouds. As the thermometer slipped above the 32°F (0°C) mark, the world came to life. I had seen no one on the hike out, but on the backtrack I ran into a number of walkers and hunters in the Brooklyn Wildlife Segment. I heard a large flock of geese and had trouble believing my ears - geese in January - until I saw them. Songbirds came out to play, and hawks started hunting. The day warmed quickly, and the icy trail became slippery. I was glad to have my hiking poles with me, but wished I hadn't forgotten my Yaktrax at home. It's amazing what a little bit of sunlight can do.

Snow on the IAT.

The Brooklyn Wildlife Segment of the IAT.

Nice views on the Brooklyn Wildlife Segment of the IAT.

Nice view from the bench on the Montrose Segment of the IAT.

Map of today's hike.

Trail Conditions - Well trampled snow, frozen into hard lumps on the more well-traveled Brooklyn Wildlife Area portion. When the sun came out, the icy parts of the trail became extremely slippery.

Distance Covered  - 12 miles (19 km) out and back.

Difficulty - Moderate, but the frozen lumps and slipperiness at the Brooklyn Wildlife Area made the hike more difficult than expected.

Concerns - Brooklyn Wildlife is a hunting area, wear blaze orange. Heard numerous shots and ran into armed hunters on the trail.

Location - Parked at the Frenchtown Road parking area at the tee with Pillar Road in Belleville.

Highlights - Startling a large flock of doves.

Total Official Ice Age Trail Miles Completed to Date - Total official Ice Age Trail distance completed 130 miles (208 km). Trail 70 miles (113 km), connecting route 60 miles (96 km).

Total Additional Backtracking Miles Completed - 115  miles (184 km).  

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