A couple of weeks ago the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest was hit with almost two feet of snow where nearby units barely had six inches. I have never been to Pike Lake, but this seemed the opportune time to check it out for some cross-country skiing.
When I got off U.S. Highway 41 exit, I could tell it was no lie as this area just northwest of Milwaukee was hit hard by the recent snowstorm. I stopped at a gas station and there were piles of snow recently plowed to clear the station of snow. At intersections, it was difficult to see over the snow mounds to make sure traffic was clear.
I pulled into Pike Lake and immediately was awed by the amount of snow still stuck to the trees. The snow fell on Thursday night and this was Monday. Normally hoarfrost from snowfalls only hangs on for the morning and early afternoon until wind and gravity clears the trees of this natural beauty.
This snowfall was a wet heavy snow, so copious amounts of snow still clung to trees, branches, and any other structures not cleared by man. This was especially true in the forest, where the protection from the wind kept the snow wherever it landed.
This provided an amazingly beautiful winter wonderland. The day I skied Pike Lake, it was gray and dreary. The snow covered woods with the gray sky as a backdrop made many of my pictures look as if they were taken in black and white film.
I wish I could say the skiing at Pike Lake was up to the wintry conditions, but unfortunately they were not. The park only grooms a small portion of the trails and the rest are used by hikers and dog walkers. Some of the best hills are on this ungroomed section. The trails are also only a little over 4 miles long.
Pike Lake is definitely the red-headed step child of the Kettle Moraines when it comes to skiing. Although the snow was optimal here, I decided to go to up North Kettle Moraine for better skiing trails. Although the trails are better up here, they oddly did not get nearly as much snow as Pike Lake did. North Kettle Moraine is only about 20 miles north.
Although I enjoyed my day skiing Pike Lake and loved the beautiful scenery, I would not come back for the skiing. I might come back to check out the beach if we have another hot spell like we did last summer, but I will save my skiing trips to the other three Kettle Moraines, which all have a superior trail systems.
Despite the subpar skiing trails, it was an absolutely beautiful day of enjoying a winter wonderland in the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.
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Nice photos from Pike Lake! I have x-c skied there and in the North unit of the Kettle Moraine for more than 25 years and I can tell you that there is a lot of good skiing to be had at Pike Lake. I think it was a matter of timing for you; most of the trails up in the hills had not yet been groomed after the recent snowfall when you were there.
Thanks Ken and also thanks for the comment. I was there on Christmas Day and also visited North Kettle Moraine and Black River Forest the next day. None of the parks did the normal grooming job, and I was a little disappointed, but it was Christmas.
At Pike Lake I thought the part that was groomed was the only section they maintained. Perhaps I will give the park another chance if we ever get any more snow.