I didn't know what a drumlin was until we moved up here -- it's a feature of glacial geology that Appalachia doesn't share. And I pass signs for the Glacial Drumlin State Trail when I'm commuting to work, heading down the highway and wishing devoutly to be able to go on a hike, but, you know, duty calls. So a hike on this trail has been a long time coming, and I was pleased to see a bit of it this past weekend.

The trail officially spans more than 50 miles between Madison and Waukesha. We hiked -- or rather walked -- an approximately 3-mile piece of it from the Rock River crossing to the Crawfish River crossing.

Edging its way between corn fields, the trail is ruler-straight and the footing is extremely friendly. The trail surface is gravel and hard-packed earth. In the winter, the trail serves cross-country skiiers and snowmobilers, so it's level and comfortably wide, with a margin of ground cover plants and, at many places on the trail, a drop-off on either side to a drainage channel.

A hike on this trail is very gentle on the ankles, and there is very little uphill or downhill slope. The trail crosses county roads occasionally, but the crossings are well-marked and visibility is easy. We saw a lot of cyclists while we were walking, and indeed, the trail is perfectly suited to a bike ride.

The bridges that cross the Rock and Crawfish Rivers are in good shape and offer very peaceful vistas. The wildlife highlight of the hike was a bright white stork, on an island in the middle of the Crawfish River, sunning and having a leisurely preen. The wildlife lowlight (as it were) was the mosquitos, which were fairly numerous, especially in the areas of the trail that are shaded and, because of the runoff channels from the adjacent fields, bordered by a lot of mud and standing water. So, DEET is helpful for a summertime hike here. As with pretty much everywhere in Wisconsin, it seems. :)

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Green thoughts in green shades.

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