Ten reasons why Kettle Moraine State Forest is awesome

Kettle Moraine Lapham Peak unit

Pine grove in the Lapham Peak unit of the Kettle Moraine

One of my favorite places in Wisconsin for outdoor adventure is the Kettle Moraine State Forests.  The Wisconsin glacier did wonders over 10,000 years ago and provided a wonderful outdoor playground for outdoor enthusiasts.

The State Forest consists of several units.  There is the Northern unit which is an hour north of Milwaukee near West Bend, Wisconsin; there is the Southern unit near Whitewater, Wisconsin; there is the Lampham Peak unit near Delafield, Wisconsin; and, there is the Pike Lake unit.  Here are ten reasons why they are awesome

10.  Beautiful pine and hardwood forests – Rows of pine trees tower over the adventure traveler in the Scuppernong area in the Southern unit and the Greenbush area in the Northern unit.  There are also large strands of hardwood forest.

9.  Variety of ecosystems – The units are all state forest, but there are many more ecosystems found in the parks besides forests.  There are lakes, prairie, glacial swamps, rivers, and bogs.  Sometimes there are all of these located in close proximity to each other.


South Kettle Moraine Scuppernong bog

8.  Cool lookouts – The Parnell Tower in the Northern unit and the Lapham Peak overlook in the Lapham Peak unit have fire towers where one can climb and get a spectacular lookout over the surrounding moraines and forests.


Parnell Tower Lookout, North Kettle Moraine State Forest


Parnell Tower Lookout, North Kettle Moraine State Forest

7.  Kid centered outdoors – The Kettle Moraine State Forests are a great place to take kids.  Each park has swimming, fishing, and camping.  There are no dangerous animals and the trails never stray very far from a road, so it is a perfect place to take families for a safe outdoor adventure.


Swimming beach at Long Lake, North Kettle Moraine

6.  Trails set aside for specific activities – From time to time one hears about conflicts in the outdoors between specific groups who fight over outdoor space.  For instance, hikers complain about mountain bikers and vice-versa and the same with hikers and skiers in the winter.  This is not a problem as there are so many trails in the parks that they set aside certain trails for certain users.  In fact, one can even receive a fine if they are doing the wrong activity on the wrong trail.  This goes a long way in making everyone happy.


If you do the wrong activity on the wrong trail it will cost you $243.00

5.  Great backcountry and car camping – The campgrounds are very spacious and beautiful and both the North and the South have backcountry camping shelters along the Ice Age Trail.

4.  The Ice Age Trail – Speaking of the Ice Age Trail, the 1,100 mile epic trail winds through the Kettle Moraines on its way from Door County to the Minnesota border.


Ice Age Trail at Butler Lake in the North Kettle Moraine State Forest

3.  Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive- Many travel magazines and publications list the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive as one of the best in the Midwest and the country.  One can drive from the Northern unit all the way through the other units and into the South, but there is so much to do along the way that it is best to do this over multiple days.


Anytime is a great time to drive the Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

2.  Activities galore – There is just about every outdoor activity imaginable in the Kettle Moraine system.  It is not just about quantity of activities either as the quality of each experience is impressive.  Great hiking, fishing, swimming, mountain biking, scenic driving, bird-watching, camping, snow shoeing, and . . . .

1.  Awesome cross country skiing – The cross-country skiing found in Kettle Moraine is up there with the best in the country.  The Nordic Trail Blue Loop in South Kettle Moraine and the Moraine Ridge Trail in Lapham Peak are outstanding and some of the best trails in the Midwest and the country.  They are both a great training ground for the Birkebeiner Marathon in Hayward, Wisconsin.  The parks do a wonderful job grooming the trails and keeping the public up to date on conditions.  In fact, Lapham Peak even has its own snow making machine for cross-country skiing.

All Wisconsin State Parks require an entrance fee. Check this post out for information on these fees:

Wisconsin State Park sticker and trail pass: Best adventure travel money can buy


North Kettle Moraine cross-country skiing


North Kettle Moraine cross-country skiing


South Kettle Moraine State Forest cross-country skiing


South Kettle Moraine State Forest cross-country skiing


The goal of Traveling Ted is to inspire people to outdoor adventure travel and then provide tips on where and how to go. If you liked this post then enter your email in the box to get email notifications for each new entry. Daily travel photos are excluded from your email in order to not flood you with posts. There is no spam and email information will not be shared. Other e-follow options include Facebook (click on the like box to the right) or twitter (click on the pretty bird on the rainbow above).

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About Ted Nelson

Ted Nelson has been adventure traveling since he was 10 years old on camping trips with his Dad to places like the Great Smoky Mountains, The Everglades, and Big Bend National Park. In 2005 he added international travel to his repertoire with a three month trip to Southeast Asia.


One Response to Ten reasons why Kettle Moraine State Forest is awesome

  1. Josh @ Green Global Travel June 5, 2012 at 3:20 pm #

    Wow! This sounds like the perfect place for those who love the outdoors. It’s really great that they have separate trails for different activities. Great photos too!

    Josh @ Green Global Travel recently posted..BERMUDA Photo Gallery

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