Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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The whole point of a scenic drive is an opportunity for drivers to see beautiful views from the comfort of their car or at least after a short walk. One of the prettiest scenic drives in Wisconsin can be found in the Kettle Moraine state forests.

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive

North Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

This article highlights five beautiful views in the North Kettle Moraine unit found 30 miles north of Milwaukee off of U.S. Highway 45. The easiest way to access the scenic drive is by taking 45 north out of Kewaskum 7 miles to Route 67. Take a right on 67 to the town of Dundee. The scenic drive goes right through this town, so you can either turn right to Mauthe Lake or left to the other four locations on the list. The scenic drive is incredibly well marked.

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive – Zillmer Trail – This is the one lookout where it takes a little work to get to

Some people come to North Kettle Moraine for the scenic drive only; others come to take part in many of the park’s adventure travel activities. These tips will help you find the scenic highlights whether your purpose is to only drive the scenic byways, or if you are done hiking and want to see another beautiful view before returning home.

For those unfamiliar with the glacial terminology in this post, click here for definitions.

Mauthe Lake Recreation Area

We will take the scenic drive south to north, so we start with Mauthe Lake Recreation Area near the small town of New Fane. When turning into the recreation area there is a pretty glacial pond to your left. Once inside the recreation area, the best spot to check out the lake is from the wildlife viewing area parking lot where there is a fishing pier. The recreation area has a small campground for those who are so endeared by the view they feel they need to stay a day or two.

North Kettle Moraine Mauthe Lake

Mauthe Lake fishing pier

North Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

The glacial pond at the entrance to Mauthe Lake Recreation Area


Zillmer Yellow Trail                

This is the only view that takes a little work. It is actually not technically right off the scenic drive. The Zillmer Trailhead is just west of the scenic drive on county SS just. If coming from Mauthe Lake there is an intersection. The forest headquarter are to the left, the Scenic Drive continues to the right, and the Zillmer Trailhead is a quarter of a mile straigh ahead.

Take the Yellow Trail for one mile. A quarter of mile past the one mile marker is a bench which overlooks a beautiful swamp and the surrounding moraines. This spot is one of the prettiest in the parks. The Yellow Trail is 5.4 miles long, so you can either continue or backtrack to the parking lot.

North Kettle Moraine Zillmer Trail

Glacial swamp in front of moraines at the Zillmer Trail

Butler Lake

A couple miles north of  Long Lake is the picturesque Butler Lake, which is a kettle lake. Lakes like this were formed by melting ice from the glacier, which caused depressions that filled with water. Butler Lake is right along the 1,100 mile Ice Age Trail. There is a tall moraine that rises straight up from the parking lot with stairs. Climb this hill to get some altitude for pictures or you can walk down the paved road to the water’s edge.

Butler Lake North Kettle Moraine

Butler Lake along both the scenic drive and the Ice Age Trail

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive

Butler Lake from the water’s edge

Parnell Tower

The Parnell Tower is the highlight on the North Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive. The tower is about a quarter of a mile up a hill from the parking lot. Stairs ascend the tower, which climbs well over the tree line giving a spectacular panoramic view of the surrounding countryside, moraines, and kames.

North Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive

Breathtaking view of the surrounding countryside

North Kettle Moraine Scenic drive

Fall colors from the Parnell Tower

Parnell Tower North Kettle Moraine

The Moulin Kames in the distance

Greenbush Kettle

The Scenic Drive meets up with Route 67 again north of Dundee for a short stretch. After turning north off of 67, just a few miles ahead is the parking area for the Greenbush Kettle. Another kettle lake or pond, this one is quite impressive as the sides of the moraine are quite steep as they descend into the kettle. There is an overlook on top near the road and a short trail that takes walkers to the kettle pond edge.

Greenbush Kettle North Kettle Moraine

The deep Greenbush Kettle

North Kettle Moraine scenic drive

Greenbush Kettle from the water’s edge

For those who have been, what do you think of the list? Is there a beautiful spot along the scenic drive I missed? If there is then please share in the comment section.

Adventure on!

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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