Ice Age, North Country scenic trails designated as units of National Park System

For the Tomahawk Leader

WISCONSIN – The National Park Service earlier this month announced that three national scenic trails have become the country’s newest national parks, with two being in Wisconsin.

The Ice Age, New England and North Country national scenic trails, all previously established by Congress and administered by the National Park Service as part of the National Trails System, are now also recognized as units of the National Park System.

“The new status for the Ice Age, New England and North Country national scenic trails will increase public awareness and use of these amazing pathways,” said National Park Service Director Chuck Sams. “Their combined 5,500-plus miles travel through parts of ten states and hundreds of communities, from large cities to rural towns, providing countless close-to-home opportunities for people to easily access green space and enjoy the benefits of outdoor recreation.” 

At nearly 1,200 miles in length, the Ice Age National Scenic Trail winds across most of Wisconsin, peppered with lakes, river valleys, gently rolling hills and more to remind users of the fact that much if it existed under a glacier 15,000 years ago. The trail passes through Lincoln County, between Tomahawk and Merrill.

Three national scenic trails, including the Ice Age Trail in Wisconsin, have become the country’s newest national parks. Photo courtesy of Lindsey Moore.

The New England National Scenic Trail in Connecticut and Massachusetts stretches 235 miles from the shores of Long Island Sound to scenic mountain summits. It offers panoramic vistas of New England’s natural and cultural landscape, including traprock ridges, historic village centers, farmlands, unfragmented forests, quiet streams, steep river valleys and waterfalls. 

The North Country National Scenic Trail is expected to be a 4,600-mile continuous path when completed. Traversing sections of Michigan, Minnesota, North Dakota, New York, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wisconsin, it showcases the varied landscapes of the Lake Superior Region, Adirondacks, Ohio River Valley, and North Dakota plains. The trail will pass through Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland and Iron counties in Wisconsin.

The designation will not result in any immediate changes to the size or structure of the trails, which already have access points, signage, operating budgets, superintendents, staff and volunteers.

The 428 units of the National Park System are commonly referred to as “parks” since there are more than 25 different name designations, including national park, national battlefield, national monument, national seashore, national historical site and national scenic trail.

Collectively, the parks cover over 85 million acres in all 50 states, the District of Columbia and U.S. territories.    

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