One of the best cross-country ski trails in the state is the Moraine Ridge Trail in the Lapham Peak Unit of Kettle Moraine State Park. This park gets overlooked despite its phenomenal terrain due to its proximity to North and South Kettle Moraine. Many people do not even know there are other units to the Kettle Moraine besides the southern and northern unit. There is also a Pike Lake unit.
I was one of those individuals until a couple of years ago when I stumbled upon a snow making video on the park. Another perk for going to Lapham Peak is they actually make their own snow on one of the shorter trails, which really comes in handy when there is no snow elsewhere and temperatures are cold enough for man to produce.
Lapham Peak is located about twenty miles straight west of Milwaukee on I-94 close to Delafield, Wisconsin. Take the 285 exit and head south about a mile to the park entrance. There are parking lots at either the Evergreen or Homestead area. Either location provides access to the most difficult and fun trail, which is the Moraine Ridge Trail.
Not only does Lapham Peak have one of the best stretches of trail in the area, they also have a lighted ski trail and cross-country ski rentals. It is a full service cross-country ski park, and one that everyone needs to visit. Once the skiing is done drive up to the fire tower and climb up to catch lovely view of the surrounding forest and a nearby frozen lake.
My favorite thing about Lapham Peak is the colorful names given to the hills. Downhill ski runs always name their runs with catchy names like Holy Moly or the Summit, but it is rare for cross-country ski places to do the same. A hill in northern Minnesota is named Wipe Out Hill, but other than that I have seen very few names given to cross-country hills.
At Lapham Peak they name most of the good downhill runs with colorful names like the Big Slide, Hoot Owl Hill, the Luge, and the Big Valley. The name giving is not exclusive to the downhill runs. One uphill section that goes virtually straight up is called the Wall. They also have cute little pictures next to the names.
The hills at Lapham Peak are worthy of names. As you can see in the embedded video, the Big Slide is a two minute downhill run. There are not many downhill ski hills in Wisconsin which have such long runs. The Luge and the Big Valley also have significant slopes, which are a lot of fun. Of course with cross-country skiing, what goes down must come back up and there is no ski lift for this maneuver. Climbing the South Hill is a painful 15-20 minute endeavor. One fellow skier asked me what the name of the hill is called after I had just climbed it, and nearly out of breath I gasped, “son of Bitch Hill.”
This give flair and character to the park and also makes it more fun to talk with fellow skiers about the place. Instead of saying I crashed pretty good at the hill with the dip and the right turn, which could be mistaken for three similar hills, you can say “I crashed at the Big Slide.” Unfortunately for me, I crashed at a hill that has no name. Maybe they will refer to it one day as “Traveling Ted’s mistake.”
Lapham Peak is part of the Wisconsin State Park system. There is a fee system to enjoy all of these parks. For more information on the fees click here.
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