Kettle Moraine State Forest—Northern Unit Trail descriptions
The Kettle Moraine State Forest--Northern Unit has more than 132 miles of trails, varying in difficulty, length, and permitted uses. Steep climbs or descents are common. Pets on designated trails must be on a leash (no longer than 8 feet long). Parking lots are provided throughout the forest. A state trail pass is required for bikers and horseback riders, 16 years of age and older.
Equestrians enjoy 41 miles of bridle trail which are traditionally open late April through mid November depending on trail conditions. The main bridle trail winds the linear length of the forest of 33 miles. Two loop trails, Crooked and Forest Lake, provide shorter routes totaling more than 7 miles.
Volunteers from the Northern Kettle Moraine Horse Trail Association, in cooperation with the state forest, partner working on projects and special events to enhance the horseback riding experience in the state forest.
Butler Lake loop trail
On Butler Lake Road, 1.5 miles east of Long Lake recreation area, the Butler Lake trail winds more than 3 miles through the 158-acre Butler Lake and Flynn's Spring State Natural Area. A portion of the loop trail is shared with the Ice Age Trail. Interpretive displays are set at the base of the esker and overlook Butler Lake. A picnic table, grill and drinking water are at the trail head. Butler Lake loop .
Greenbush recreation area trails
On Kettle Moraine Drive, 2.5 miles north of State Highway 67, the Greenbush recreation area has two trail systems: 4 loops of challenging mountain bike trails totaling 9 miles, interwoven with 5 loops of hiking trails totaling 13.5 miles. Hikers and off-road mountain bikers share this multiple-use trail system in season. For safety reasons, these trails are use-specific: hiking is not allowed on the bike trails, and biking is not allowed on the hiking trails.
In winter the hiking trails are machine-groomed for cross-country skiing. Pets and hiking are not allowed on ski trails. The 1.2-mile Brown loop at Greenbush is lighted for night skiing. The bike trails are excellent for winter hiking and snowshoeing. A heated picnic shelter, picnic tables, grill, drinking water and vault toilets are near the trail head. There is also access to the Ice Age Trail. Greenbush loop system
Ice Age National Scenic Trail
The Ice Age Trail winds for 31 miles through the Forest.
About 31 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail travels the length of the forest. The moderate to difficult course follows sinuous eskers and tumbled moraines descending into bogs and deep kettles. Five rustic backpack shelters are reservable for camping along the trail. The Ice Age Trail includes various portions of other forest trails. Forest Map.
Lake to Lake bike trail
This 6.5-mile limestone surfaced trail connects the Mauthe and Long Lake recreation areas and passes by the village of Dundee. This gentle trail winds through hardwood forests, prairies, conifer plantations, and lowland swamps. Lake to Lake Bike Trail.
This 0.75-mile, easy nature-trail loop begins at the Ice Age Visitor Center. A booklet linked to the numbered posts along the trail identifies common trees of the Kettle Moraine. Picnic tables are available at the trail head. Pets are not allowed on this trail.
New Fane loop system trails
On County Line Road, 1.5 miles east of Kettle Moraine Drive, the New Fane area has two trail systems: 4 loops of moderately-challenging mountain bike trails totaling 5.5 miles, interwoven with 4 loops of hiking trails totaling 7.7 miles. A short connector trail trail allows hikers access to the Ice Age Trail (bikes are not allowed on the connector trail). Hikers and off-road mountain bikers share this multiple-use trail system in season. For safety reasons, these trails are use-specific: hiking is not allowed on the bike trails, and biking is not allowed on the hiking trails. An open-air reservable shelter is located near the trail head, and drinking water and vault toilets are available year-round.
In winter, the hiking trails serve as ungroomed cross-country ski trails, and the bike trails are open to winter hiking and snowshoeing. New Fane loop system
Parnell Tower loop trail
Parnell Observation Tower
Photo by Sandra K Pfotenhauer
On County Highway U, one quarter mile west of County Highway A, the Parnell Tower trail begins its 3.5-mile loop with a series of steps leading to the highest point of elevation in the forest. There a 60-foot observation tower rises above the treetops for a birds-eye view of the glacial landscape. The trail follows the Ice Age Trail near a rustic backpack shelter reservable for camping. Picnic tables, grills, drinking water and vault toilets are adjacent to the trail head. Parnell loop.
The state forest has a 60-mile network of snowmobile trails which join to county and private trails connecting to adjoining towns and villages. Trails are groomed by four local snowmobile clubs under contract with the state forest. These snowmobile clubs are Crooked Trails, Greenbush Trail Blazers, Kewaskum Sno Chiefs, and New Fane Kettle Riders. Forest Map.
Spuce Lake Bog trail
This 0.25-mile, easy boardwalk trail takes visitors through a unique open-lake bog community to Spruce Lake. This site was designated as a National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service, and one can expect to see sundews, pitcher plants, and other rare plant species. Visitors are requested to stay on the boardwalk, due to the fragile nature of the habitat and the presence of poison sumac.
Accessed from the Long Lake Campgrounds (upper 900s loop), the Summit trail is a one-mile nature trail loop which scales Dundee Mountain. Glacial geology interpretive signs mark this challenging trail to the top of the highest kame in the forest, with panoramic views of the Campbellsport drumlins and other ice age topography. Pets are not allowed on this trail.
Tamarack loop trail
This trail can be accessed near the Forest Headquarters off County G, or from the Mauthe Lake recreation area off County GGG. This 2-mile nature trail is entirely within the Mauthe Lake Refuge and loops around the lake. This area is closed to hunting, and pets are prohibited on the trail. Flush toilets are available year-round on the headquarter's side. Tamarack loop.
Wade House access trail
A 1.7-mile linear trail that connects the Old Wade House State Historical site in Greenbush to the Ice Age Trail. Trail travels through hardwood forests, a meadow, and the Kettle Moraine Red Oaks State Natural Area. Limited parking is available at the Wade House parking lot (no overnight parking). Walk one block east on Washington Street to the trail head.
Zillmer loop system trails
On County Highway SS, one quarter mile west of County Highway G, the Zillmer trail Area consists of four loop trails for a total of 11 miles. The south trail head has a heated shelter, vault toilets, picnic tables, grills and drinking water. Visitors can also access the trail from the Visitor Center. A rustic backpack shelter is reservable for camping along the trail. In winter forest staff regularly machine groom the trails for diagonal and skate skiing. Hiking and pets are prohibited when snow is present. The area is closed to hunting with firearms, except during deer gun and spring turkey seasons. Zillmer loop system.