DISTANCE
8.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
275 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Loop

dogs on leash

cross country skiing

hiking

snowshoeing

trail running

forest

lake

river

snow

backpacking
Monday, June 26, 2017

I took my 7 yr. old and 10 yr. old around the loop as a weekend backpacking trip. This is the first overnight backpacking trip they've ever been on. We camped at the site right off of the Ice Age Trail the first night, as we didn't get to the trail until around 7:00 PM. The campsite is just south of the western junction and has a good water source right across the trail, though it does require you to walk on some logs across a bog to get to open water.
The next morning we walked down to the southeast corner of the loop and the beaver pond campsite. This hike took us about 2 hours, with a lot of climbing over and around downed trees that cross the trail. There were also several areas where the trail was underwater and there was plenty of deep mud for us to navigate around. At one point the trail crosses a logging road and we saw a blaze off to the west, but when we got down there and followed what we thought was the trail we lost it and ended up off trail for about half a mile until we found the trail again.
The second night we camped at the beaver pond, which is just a beautiful site. There is a pit toilet just to the south of the campsite. There are also log benches to sit on and a cooking grate. Somebody had left a pile of logs, so we had a nice toasty fire.
The hike back out to the road took us about 3.5 hours. There was quite a bit less downed trees and swampy areas to navigate, but it was a longer hike. It did rain during the night when we were at the beaver pond, so there were some muddy areas that we don't think would have been quite so bad on a dryer weekend.
Overall, I think that this loop pushed my kids to their limit, but not over the limit to where they weren't having fun anymore. For adults it's a challenging, but not overly difficult hike. It would probably more pleasant and less challenging in the fall or winter when there isn't so much moisture to deal with. The trail doesn't appear to get much use, as many parts were overgrown or on the verge of being overgrown.
We didn't see anybody from the time we left the IAT until we got back to the truck. We had a great weekend and my kids are already asking about taking another trip. I'd highly recommend it for a quick weekend getaway. I don't think I'd enjoy trying to tackle this one in a single day, though it's definitely doable if you're so inclined.