Hiking the Ice Age Trail Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness


Fording the New Wood River on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
Fording the New Wood River on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail


The Averill Kelly Creek trail is a 4.5 mile segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail near Merrill WI. This trail is moderately difficult, without major hill climbs, but at times can become difficult. There are several swampy areas where the footpath becomes invisible. There are three stream/river crossings which require rock hops or fording.

This lightly traveled trail crosses through a privately held wilderness that is infamous as the home of the Averill-Kelly Gray Wolf Pack. Wolves, black bear, white tailed deer, and many other forest animals frequently haunt this area of trail. Standard wilderness hiking precautions are advised.




Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
Swampy sections of the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
I hope that my photos tell a thousand words about this trail. It is dense. Visually textured. Wet. Hot. Thick. A mosquito hell. A wood tick haven. Packed with large predators. You get the idea. This isn't a length of trail that people hike because of its scenic wonders or photogenic vistas. It is a length of trail that you must hike if you are through hiking or section hiking the complete Ice Age Trail.

In autumn this trail might be much better received. In winter it might be beautiful. But, in late spring and summer it is battle between hikers and the swarms of bugs which intend to devour all warm blooded animals who enter this wilderness.

Aside from my complaints, there are a few highlights. There are two creek crossings and one river ford. The creek crossings may normally be jumped or rock hopped. And, crossing the gentle New Wood River is just deep enough that it is worth taking off the hiking shoes. Pack in sandals for the river ford if you are doing this as an out-and-back.

Wisconsin trails are usually so overbuilt that WI hikers don't often get a chance to be forced into fording a river - so it is an exciting change of pace on this trail. I propose the Ice Age Trail could add hundreds of miles of footpath if they didn't try to bridge every small creek.

But, boardwalks over bogs, that's an amenity I longed for as I hiked the outwash area of the Kelly and Averill Creek. The swampy areas slowed my hike down to less than 1 mile per hour. However, much the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment traverses a retired railbed where it was easy to pack in more miles quickly.

I didn't encounter any large predators on my hike, but I was wearing a bear bell and breaking sticks every quarter mile to provide some warning of my presence. I mentioned earlier taking standard wilderness precautions on this hike. If you are doing an out-and-back you will be hiking for 10 miles - mostly under the sun - so bring at least 32 oz. of water. Protect yourself from predators as you see fit: avoid this trail for dog walking (a wolf may stay out of sight to humans, but will attack a dog that is perceived to be invading territory), carry bear spray, be a noisy hiker. Do not pack in smelly food if it is not required. Hike in groups or let someone know when you expect to contact them next. Load maps into your GPS before hiking, and bring a paper topo map. carry first aid and survival kits. Trekking poles are a great help when fording a river. Don't wander off the trail. These are some basic wilderness hiking protocols. If you are not up to taking these simple considerations or do not have at least water and a paper topo map of the trail then you are probably not ready for this segment.

This trail is not like hiking the mild and heavily trafficked trails of southern Wisconsin, it is like hiking the wilderness trails of northern Wisconsin; and that makes even these flat and average miles at Averill Kelly pretty awesome.

This trail segment is on privately held hunting property and is closed for the entire November gun hunt. Also, portions of this trail area closed from October through December.



Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
Along the New Wood River on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail


Overview: Ice Age National Scenic Trail - Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment


COUNTY: Lincoln
COMMUNITIES: Merrill, Irma

TOTAL MILES: 4.5
DIFFICULTY: Moderate-Difficult

IAT SEGMENT TO WEST: New Wood Segment
IAT SEGMENT TO EAST: Turtle Rock Segment

POINTS OF INTEREST: Kelly Creek, Averill Creek, New Wood River

CAMPING: Rustic camping anywhere in Lincoln County Forest across Burma Road from the east trailhead, recommended site in clearing near Turtle Rock trailhead on Burma Road. Absolutely no camping along the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment - please be respectful of this private property whose owners so generously provided an easement for this footpath.


Directions and Trail Map




If viewing on a mobile device, open the trail map above to load into Google Maps App by touching the expand rectangle in the upper right corner

Nearest Address for your GPS: N5305 Burma Rd, Merrill, WI 54452
| coordinates: 45.288037, -89.888952 |

From Milwaukee3.5 Hours
From Madison2.75 Hours
From Green Bay2 Hours
From Wausau40 Minutes
From Minneapolis3 Hours
From Chicago5 Hours


Photos



Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
New Wood River crossing Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail

Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail


Kelly creek rock hop on the Averill Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age Trail
Kelly creek rock hop on the Averill Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail


New Wood River on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail
New Wood River on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age National Trail


Troad hiking on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age Trail
Troad hiking on the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Deer on the road at the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness trailhead
Deer on the road at the Averill-Kelly Creek Wilderness trailhead








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