Hiking the West Bend Segment of the Ice Age Trail

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment


The West Bend Segment of the Ice Age Trail is an exciting 6.5-mile course through parks and preserves, past lakes and along the Silver Creek. The trail is a wide single track footpath. It can be difficult to follow as it intersects with a network of other trails as it passes through popular recreation areas. This trail is very hilly, with steep inclines, but never tops out at a significant elevation or overlook. It just keeps rolling through beautiful Kettle Moraine scenery. Highlights include Lucas Lake, Ridge Run County Park, and Glacial Blue Hills Recreational Area.


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Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ridge Run County Park



I had avoided the West Bend Segment for many years. I predicted it would be an uneventful hike in an urban setting along sidewalks and roads. I was incorrect. Of all of the trails I hiked in 2019, this one was my favorite with no close second.

Indeed, this trail is set in the middle of an urban area. I even stopped halfway at a Cousin Subs for a sandwich, a rare treat along the Ice Age Trail. But, to my surprise, the vast majority of this trail runs through mature woodlands and up and over so many hills I have a hard time believing that a city the size of West Bend was able to be settled in such hummocky terrain, where the bottoms of deep kettles drop hundreds of feet beside the trail and kames rise abruptly to create a roller coaster of a hike.

I was raised not far from West Bend, and grew up knowing many friends in the area, yet somehow the string of enchanted parks that shoulder the trail corridor had escaped the wanderings of my early years. I began this segment at the Paradise Drive trailhead, and the name should have been an indicator of what was to come.

The very first portion of the trail twisted and turned as it rose over a heathy hill and then entered a deep woods, rising further and further as it rounded Lucas Lake which was still out of view. I could feel the nearby presence of housing, but couldn't see houses. The trail then dove into a valley, crossing Silver Creek at a picturesque bridge. The climb in elevation continued, deeper into woods.

I had completed a multi-day backpacking trip the weekend before, and it felt so amazing to be cruising along this trail without the weight of a 35 pound pack that I nearly broke into a run as the trail descended towards Ridge Run County Park. The extraordinary summer weather combined with the lightness I was feeling put the wind in my sails, and I only once slowed my pace through the hike to County D.

As the trail entered Ridge Run County Park it turned abruptly to cross an extended boardwalk through a sedge meadow on Lucas Lake. Rounding the corner I was immersed in a deep ravine along Silver Creek where throngs of fishermen were casting lines into the slow moving glassy pools of water that were green with the reflections of the tree branches that overhung them. A small cascade at the far end of the ravine added the sound of rushing water to the scene.

The trail continued beside a wetland and then rose to pop out on University Drive where I followed the sidewalk to a precarious crossing of Highway 33. I stopped at the sub shop to grab a bite and continued on as the trail climbed into a greenway with deep ravines and kettles that was crisscrossed with mountain bike trails. A long descent led to a parking area for Glacial Blue Hills - a popular mountain biking park in the area. The last section of the trail flattened out a bit and led through a woodlands that was not quite healthy and closed in by thick underbrush before finishing at County Highway D in Kewaskum. That's where I turned around and did it all over again in reverse to complete a 13-mile out-n-back which took exactly 4 hours to complete - to the minute.

You'll find this trail to be a happy respite from biting bugs in mid-summer as compared with segments Up North. It is an easy trail to break down into smaller excursions and is a close drive from the Milwaukee area. This trail is something of a gateway to the Northern Kettle Moraine where the IAT gathers steam and extends without interruption between Kewaskum and Greenbush.

Long distance hikers won't find any good camping near the West Bend Segment, but there are hotels in West Bend, along with services such as laundromats and grocery stores.

After hiking this segment I eagerly recommend it, and in fact, would urge you to favor this one over more popular sections nearby such as Pike Lake or New Fane. This is one that will remind seasoned hikers why they started spending their every weekend mornings hiking - always in search of freedom and the discovery of new and magical places - this one, right in our own back yard.



Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment



Ice Age Trail West Bend Wisconsin

COUNTY
WASHINGTON COUNTY
COMMUNITIES
WEST BEND
TOTAL MILES
6.5-MILE POINT-TO-POINT
DIFFICULTY
MODERATE-DIFFICULT
LOWEST ELEVATION
954 AMSL
HIGHEST ELEVATION
1129 AMSL
TOTAL ELEVATION GAIN
940 FT
TOTAL ELEVATION LOST
1028 FT

NEXT IAT SEGMENT EASTBOUND
KEWASKUM SEGMENT
NEXT IAT SEGMENT WESTBOUND
CEDAR LAKE SEGMENT


Directions and Trail Map

DOWNLOAD PRINTABLE PDF USGS TOPOGRAPHIC MAP
WEST BEND QUADRANGLE 2015



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Address for your GPS:3470 W Paradise Dr West Bend, WI 53095
| coordinates: 43.398307, -88.210830  |

From Milwaukee40 Minutes
From Madison1.5 Hours
From Green Bay2 Hours
From Wausau2.5 Hours
From Minneapolis5 Hours
From Chicago2.25 Hours




Photos


Trailhead on Paradise Drive
Trailhead on Paradise Drive

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment

Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment



Highway 33 Trailhead
Highway 33 Trailhead
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment
Ice Age Trail West Bend Segment



Glacial Blue Hills Trailhead
Glacial Blue Hills Trailhead


Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive Trail Head
Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive Trail Head