NOTE: IN ORDER TO BETTER SEE PHOTOS IN THEIR FULL 1600 PX. RESOLUTION, VIEW THEM IN THE ALBUM FORMAT BY CLICKING ON THE LEAD PHOTO OR ANY PHOTO IN THE POST. This is especially true for landscape shots. Thanks to Mark for the idea of adding this alert so the photos can be seen at their best!

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Loew Lake Segment - and Some Criticism on the IAT Guidebook

Let me start by saying that knowing I'd have a ride and not having to walk a segment in both directions was pretty awesome this weekend.  However, I'd like to also say that the Ice Age Trail Guidebook that I waited to be published last year is missing some pretty important things and that is not so awesome.  I know they can't include everything, but the trail descriptions are so sparse as to be almost useless.  The maps are so basic it is hard to see what you need to know such as where to get on the trail.  The descriptions of where to get on the trail heads are mostly vague.  Why in this day and age could they not have included GPS coordinates?  I can stand at the trailhead and hit a button that will send a text with that information to let Katrina know exactly where I am but they do not include it in the guidebook.  The book didn't even include the name of the town of Erin that the segment is in, therefore I couldn't find it by putting the nearest intersection in to my GPS because I kept guessing at the town and none of my guesses were correct.

However, on the Loew Lake segment itself I ran across a sign that not only had a topography map of the area but detailed mileage that broke the segment down so you knew where you were and how long to the next "landmark".  It was incredibly helpful, and I know my "Hiking in the Smokys" book provides details like that. I can't imagine why such basic information is not included in the guidebook either.  Every time I want to hike a section I spend way too much time trying to figure out how to get where I want to go.  The website is even more useless, I suspect in an attempt to get you to buy the guide like I did.  There is a link on the page for GPS waypoints, but why not in the book?  I tried opening the online file but I don't have Office on my laptop so it wouldn't open, and I don't want to use Dropbox which is the other option.  I paid for the book, in my opinion it should have been included in it. Thoughts?

how hard would it be to this for every segment in the Guidebook?
Notice the GPS coordinates at the bottom.

Another thing the IAT Guidebook does not provide is much in the way of information on what to expect on the trail as far as difficulty.  Giving it a rating is not as helpful as pointing out whether or not you are going to be going up and down a lot of eskers.  If the terrain is gentle the hike will go quicker than if there is a lot of scrambling involved.

Ups and downs on the last mile and a half of the Loew Lake segment
typical eskers bookended the trail segment

Both ends of the trail had some eskers but the majority of the hike was an easy meander through some gently rolling fields.  One of which provided a view of the Basilica of Holy Hill which is built on a kame.  Finished in 1931 it stands where numerous other chapels stood before it and is the most visited church in the Midwest.  It is the located on the next segment to the north, but I'm saving it until the fall because the views of the fall color are supposed to be spectacular.

The trail leaves the fields and uses Emerald Drive in two different spots, once for .2 mile and the other time for .4 mile.  It wasn't so bad, the state designated Rustic Road was scenic and had a nice sandy shoulder to walk on.

Emerald Drive as it climbs up to County Hwy K from trailhead

Nothing new was spotted growing along the trail, just some more skunk cabbage and hepatica.  Not that I wasn't happy to see the perky little blossoms again!

A portion of the trail also ran alongside the Oconomowoc River, just like the Monches Trail did.  It made a good place to stop to enjoy the breeze and the sunshine.

I completed approximately 4.5 miles in just over 2 hours, something I wasn't expecting but luckily my ride was able to come earlier than originally planned.  We used the extra time to photograph giraffes on the side of the road, it was fun to see one with Katrina along in the car since it's a running joke of ours.

It even had a nosy pal who wanted to know what was going on inside the house.

We also saw signs promising "spectacular sculptures" so we took a detour to get a look.  More on that tomorrow!


  1. I think you should write a guidebook for the Ice Age trail. It sounds like something that is sorely needed. And maybe you'll make enough $$$ you can retire! :) William L Sullivan has certainly made a name for himself here in Oregon. His guidebooks are wonderful!

  2. Not having a GPS, I rely on detailed maps and descriptions. And I am easily lost when not in an urban area!