The Ice Age Trail has received an upgrade. I took a walk on this new two-mile superhighway for bikes, and here are my observations.
The new path is called the Ice Age Junction Trail, and it goes from Highway PD in Fitchburg to the junction with the Military Ridge State Trail in Verona. It's beautiful new smooth blacktop. It mostly goes around the hills that the walking trail has enjoyed. It's a quick ride for people who want to get from point A to point B.
The walking trail still exists, and it goes to the same place. It's still grass covered, maintained with lawn mowers. It's a bit more strenuous than the bike trail, and a bit longer. It meanders through the prairie flowers and wild berry bushes with no apparent concern for speed of travel. More meditative. Less efficient.
In addition to going through the prairie flowers, the blacktop version of the trail goes through a small woods. I think there is some incongruity in a blacktop path going through a woodsy natural space like woods. I get it that cars go through woods on blacktop, but I think of bikes as being more nature friendly. Blacktop is a manufactured surface made of non-natural stuff. It has little in common with spaces filled with flowers and woods.
The new trail has a stopping off point for those who want to rest. It has more access points for bikers than the former walking-only trail, from area streets. Those are good features. It covers part of the walking trail and crosses it. Both trails go under Verona Avenue through a bridge that has been there for some time, but now the path at that location is easier to traverse due to a small bridge that goes over a watery space. I remember crossing it by climbing on rocks and doing some jumping. This is an improvement for bikers and walkers.
I'll stick to the walking trail with all its beauties and meanderings. The day may come when I try the blacktop trail on my bike. Thanks, Madison, Dane County Parks, and the Community Foundation, for offering a new alternative, even if it is blacktop.