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The Driftless Trail

Imagine hiking a footpath that wanders through the woods, prairies, farms, bluffs and streams of Iowa County’s Driftless landscape. It takes you through state conservation lands and through nooks and crannies owned by people who want to share the beauty of their land with you. Hike the trail for three miles or do a multi-day, 50-mile loop that connects Tower Hill, Governor Dodge, and Blue Mounds State Parks. During the winter, strap on snowshoes or skis. Explore the vistas, valleys, and cultural sites that make this area so widely renowned. This is the vision we have for the Driftless Trail. 


Beyond serving up this unique experience, the Driftless Trail will create a corridor for land conservation and climate change resiliency. It will entice people to exercise, spend quality time with others, and learn about the nature, history, and agriculture they are walking through. And it will be a new economic resource for seven rural gateway communities.


This project embodies DALC’s holistic approach to conservation, a philosophy best described by the late UW-Madison landscape architect, Phil Lewis. He lived in the hills this trail will traverse and created the term “e-corridors” to describe projects that incorporate ecology, environment, esthetics, exercise, and education. DALC adds easements and economics to the mix, and the Driftless Trail covers it all.

Explore the trail!

This is a foot-only trail, to be used for hiking, running, snowshoeing, or cross country skiing. (Some segments are not safe for skiing.)


Here is the status of trail segments that are open or under construction. DO NOT visit segments that are being constructed – this is informational only.



This 1.1 mile “lollipop loop” trail is located just north of Governor Dodge State Park. The first portion of the trail offers a spectacular view - and is exposed to strong winds when they occur. This trail is great for hiking in light snow and snowshoeing in deeper snow, but is not good for cross-country skiing. Find a map and more details in the Weaver Road Trail guide.


If you do explore the Weaver Road Segment, please let us know what you think! Send a note and photos to


Welsh Hills Trail - OPEN

This two-mile loop on the Taliesin property is open for public use. A portion of this loop will become part of the Driftless Trail in 2024. The other part is a paved state trail along Highway 23. Access the trail from the upper parking lot at the Frank Lloyd Wright Visitor Center. This mostly level trail cuts across slopes of restored prairie and savanna, with wonderful views of the Taliesin buildings, agricultural fields, and Lowery Creek watershed. Much of it has no shade, so plan carefully on hot days.

Phoebe Point Trail - OPEN - AWD/4WD required for parking area during winter conditions

This trail is a 1.1 mile-long “lollipop loop”, part out-and-back with a loop in the middle. It offers stunning views up and down the Wisconsin River, across the Taliesin property, and across much of the Lowery Creek watershed. This segment of the Driftless Trail is a collaboration between the Driftless Area Land Conservancy, Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation, and Taliesin Preservation. Find a map and more details in the Phoebe Point Trail Guide.


Knobs Road Trail – OPEN

This trail offers a lot of variety as it traverses oak woods, pastures, hayfields, an orchard, and a Mill Creek tributary. It includes 2.7 miles on a farm that produces grass-fed beef, plus a 1.1 mile stretch of Knobs Road to return to the trailhead. For a nice two mile out-and-back hike, go to the top of the ridge to enjoy a 360-degree vista before turning around. 


PAY ATTENTION TO SAFETY FOR HIKERS AND DRIVERS ON KNOBS ROAD. Park well off the road, at the TOP of the hill. When hiking on Knobs Road, stay on the shoulder of the down-slope side so it is easy for drivers to see you.  


Find a trail description and maps in the Knobs Road Trail Guide.

GPS Coordinates: 43.06505, -90.01802

Find the trailhead on Google Maps here.


The entire Driftless Trail project area is shown below. Trails open for public use are shown in red and trails under construction are shown in blue. 

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Gateway communities:

Spring Green




Blue Mounds

Mount Horeb


DALC will encourage businesses, schools, health care providers, and government officials in each town to engage with the trail as a valuable community resource.


Project history and future timeline

From 2016-2018, a planning team worked with the National Park Service Rivers, Trails, and Conservation Assistance Program to develop the Concept Plan that is guiding this project. The plan includes valuable input from the Ice Age Trail Association, North Country Trail Association, Taliesin Preservation, advisory team members, project area landowners, and the public. This was followed by two years of landowner meetings and trail design work.


In October 2020, DALC began partnering with the WisCorps program to construct the trail. Crews of six young conservation professionals gain valuable work experience while giving this project momentum on the ground – literally. Spring and fall crews will provide construction assistance while DALC staff continue to contact landowners, develop easements, and coordinate all trail development activities.


It will likely take 20 years to complete a network of trails that connect the three state parks, Ridgeway Pine Relict State Natural Area, Trout Creek Fishery Area, Love & Strutt Creeks Fishery Area, and private lands in between. This is an ambitious, exciting, and very rewarding project.

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The conservation world increasingly recognizes that corridors of contiguous, managed natural areas provide great value for movement of wildlife, distribution of native plants, and resistance to our rapidly changing climate. The larger the block of connected natural area, the more wildlife habitat, carbon sequestration, erosion control, and biodiversity we have.


Throughout the Driftless Trail corridor, DALC will implement our two-pronged approach to land conservation – protect land that is managed and manage land that is protected. Both are essential. We will use the trail as an incentive for managing and protecting the land it runs through, and will assist with gathering resources to make this happen.


Hosting the Driftless Trail

Hosting the Driftless Trail

First and foremost, DALC has no power of eminent domain. We will only work with landowners who volunteer to host the Driftless Trail.


The number one reason people enjoy hosting a public trail is the satisfaction of sharing their land with others. DALC listens to landowner needs as we develop either a whole property conservation easement or a trail easement -- both clearly define the trail corridor. We aim to place the trail where it will least affect the landowner and avoid impacts to sensitive natural resources while offering an exceptional hiking experience. Users of this type of trail tend to be respectful of private property. DALC bears responsibility for long-term trail maintenance.

Help Build the Driftless Trail
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Get involved!

  • Volunteer to help with project planning or trail construction

  • Join our “keep informed” list to stay updated on project happenings.

  • Lend your particular expertise by joining our Advisory Team

  • Contribute much needed financial support. (Donate online or contact our office.)


Questions?  Contact Barb Barzen, Project Coordinator, via email or 608-930-3252.

Thank you to Driftless Trail financial and in-kind supporters:


Alliant Energy Foundation

Frank Lloyd Wright Foundation

Gathering Waters Conservancy

Ice Age Trail Alliance

James E. Dutton Foundation

John C. Bock Foundation

National Park Service

Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin

North Country Trail Association  

Taliesin Preservation

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