Monday, May 23, 2016

Janesville Segment of the Ice Age Trail

There is nothing like the fragrance of honeysuckle. Smelling of Fruit Loops and roses, no matter how many times I run into it on a hike, it is so fragrant I find myself looking around wondering who would wear so much perfume on the trail. Turns out honeysuckle lines the Ice Age National Scenic Trail (IAT) throughout the Janesville Segment. If you love the stuff, check out this segment in mid-May.

The Janesville segment of the IAT is a hike of contrasts. Contrasts between abandoned factory buildings near the downtown and luxurious homes near Parkview Drive prove striking. Contrasts between homeless persons huddled under piles of blankets with their plastic bag treasures in close proximity and joggers passing by wearing skimpy but pristine, brand-fancy athletic shoes and attire seem ironic. Janesville is actually the first segment of the IAT along which I experienced trailside homelessness. The contrasts of Janesville make me wonder whether the people of Janesville should be thankful for the prosperity GM brought to the region, or resentful of the gaping hole left behind when GM's Janesville operations shut down.

Janesville Assembly's chimney.
Baby geese at Riverside Park
Baby geese at Riverside Park.

Downtown Janesville.

Abandoned factory in Janesville.

Making progress on the Janesville Segment of the IAT.

The trail is fully paved and relatively flat, one could hike this segment pushing a baby stroller. There are plenty of park benches and parks for rest stops along the Janesville Segment. The western portion of the segment follows the scenic Rock River and heads through downtown Janesville and some industrial areas. The remainder of the segment turns away from the Rock River and passes by a ball park, the Rotary Gardens, a golf course, a residential area, some big box stores, Briarcrest Park, and more big box stores, until finally crossing over the top of Interstate Highway 39/90. Along the trail there are underpasses, overpasses, and many joggers and bicyclists. If you are hiking to find silence and solitude, you will quickly realize the Janesville Segment of the Ice Age Trail is about as far from a wilderness experience as one might find, but provides some interesting sights and the feeling of adventure that comes with wondering what's around the next corner.

Wood violets, the Wisconsin state flower.

Scenery along the IAT.

New Life Assembly of God in Janesville.

Pond next to the big box stores in Janesville.

Downtown Janesville.

Along Palmer Drive.

Nearing the end of the segment.

Robin tending the nest along one of the many underpasses along the Janesville Segment of the IAT.

Since I was back-tracking rather than shuttling, I split the hike in half. I hiked from Riverside Park to Blackhawk Park and then backtracked to Riverside Park on the first leg. On the second leg I hiked from Blackhawk Park to Rotamer Court and back. In hindsight, the hike could have been done in one shot with a bicycle stashed at one end, but I hiked it both ways. I saw Janesville twice, with the parks providing convenient parking locations.

The Janesville Segment of the IAT.

Trail Conditions - 65°F (18°C) with paved, well-maintained bicycle trails. Bring your map, the trail is signed but there are cross-trails and the map will help you avoid any confusion.

Total Distance Covered  - 20.8 miles (33.5 km) out and back, 10.4 miles one way.

Difficulty - The Janesville Segment is easy and relatively flat, you can ride your bike or push a stroller the entire length of this segment if you like.

Highlights - Honeysuckle, a nesting robin, an eagle, views of the Rock River, some amazing back yards.

Location - Parked at Riverside Park and at Blackhawk Park in Janesville, Wisconsin.

Total Official Ice Age Trail Miles Completed to Date - Total official Ice Age Trail distance completed 166 miles (265 km).

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