The public lands of northwestern Wisconsin saw a high number of visitors last year, according to Interstate Park manager Matt Densow.
The park is also the western end of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, which crosses Wisconsin at the edge of the state’s glaciated regions. The trail is more than 1,000 miles long, with 600 miles as volunteer-maintained official segments, and another 500 miles of connecting trails, roads, and other routes.
About 300,000 people visited Interstate in 2020 — an increase of 50,000 from the previous year, or about 20 percent. Densow shared the information with the Indianhead Chapter of the Ice Age Trail Alliance at the group’s annual meeting in February, according to Steve Gardiner in River Town News.
The trail association also experienced a 42 percent increase in membership last year.
Officials credit coronavirus for increased interest, because it pushed more people to enjoy outdoor recreation.
Meanwhile, history will be made on the trail and at Interstate tomorrow, when through-hiker Emily Ford is expected to reach the end of an incredible journey, only the second person to complete the trail in winter.
The Duluth resident will also become the first woman and first Black person to hike the entire trail. She has been joined by her dog Diggins, named after Olympic skier and St. Croix Valley native Jessie Diggins.
Ford started the hike on December 28 and is expected to reach Interstate tomorrow about noon. Well-wishers are welcome. Details and some requests for visitors are included in this Instagram post.