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a Wisconsin state park, forest, recreation area or trail.
Camping opportunities
in state parks and forests.
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a vehicle admission sticker or state trail pass.
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to attend a nature program or event with family and friends.
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Wisconsin State Parks

Wisconsin State Park SystemBackpacking

COVID-19 Update

  • All campgrounds, day use facilities (shelters and amphitheaters) and marina boat slips are closed through June 7.
  • Reservations beginning June 8, 2020 are available and may be made online or by calling 1-888-947-2757.
  • Very primitive, non-reservable remote camping is available at some properties.

COVID-19 Information Webpage

State parks and forests

The state forests and parks listed below offer trails and sites for backpack camping. There are also sites within traditional campgrounds that may require campers walk a distance to acces their sites. Most campsites can be reserved, some are first-come, first-served. Northern state forest require a permit from the property office for camping off-site. Call the park or forest in which you're interested in camping for details.

These campsites may be several hundred yards to a few miles away from the nearest parking area. Campers need to backpack all supplies and gear into and out of these sites. There are backpack shelters in the Northern and Southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. The backpack shelters have a roof, fire ring and vault toilet.



Reservations may be made online or by calling 1-888-947-2757.

campsites in the Wisconsin State Park System.

Property name Backpack (walk-to) sites Hiking trail miles at property
Amnicon Falls State Park 2 (about 100 to 150 feet from the parking area) 3
Big Bay State Park 7 (about 100 to 400 feet from the parking area) 9
Big Foot Beach State Park 37 6
Blue Mound State Forest 12 25
Brule River State Forest 8 40
Buckhorn State Park 46 7
Copper Falls State Park 1 17
Chippewa Moraine State Recreation Area 3 10
Elroy-Sparta State Trail 11 32
Governor Earl Peshtigo River State Forest 1 12
Governor Dodge State Park 24 28
Governor Knowles State Forest 9 38
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit 6 backpack shelters (5 along Ice Age Trail); 14 campsites 83
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit* 3 backpack shelters along Ice Age Trail; 11 campsites 127
Lapham Peak Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest 1 26
Merrick State Park 12 3
Mirror Lake State Park 13 19
Nelson Dewey State Park 4 2
New Glarus Woods State Park 14 8
Newport State Park 17 30
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest 47 69
Pattison State Park 3 7
Pike Lake Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest 3 8
Point Beach State Forest 1 17
Rock Island State Park 40 10
Straight Lake State Park 10 9
Wildcat Mountain State Park 20 5
Willow River State Park 4 17
Yellowstone Lake State Park 16 12

Off-site camping by permit only is allowed at northern state forest properties including Black River, Brule River, Flambeau River, Governor Earl Peshtigo River, Governor Knowles and Northern Highland-American Legion state forests.

There are backpack shelters along the Ice Age Trail at the Northern Unit and Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. These Adirondack-style shelters have a fire ring and accommodate up to 10 people. Users may set up tents outside the shelter. All camping equipment and drinking water must be backpacked in and all refuse packed out. Camping is limited to one night per site.

Multi-day backpacking on the Ice Age Trail

The following is a list of some backpacking areas along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. The IAT atlas pages referenced are from the Ice Age Trail Atlas [exit DNR]. The atlas and Ice Age Trail Guidebook [exit DNR], which are available for sale from the Ice Age Trail Alliance, provide camping and lodging details for all segments of the trail.

IAT Segments (General Area) Property (IAT Atlas pages) County Miles Primary Camping Type Other Camping within 0.25 mile Difficulty Highlights Other Notes
Northern Blue Hills, Southern Blue Hills (Northwest Wisconsin) County forest, private land (10f - 12f) Rusk 17 Primitive on county forest Murphy Flowage Campground Moderate challenge on remote, less-maintained trail Glacial landforms lay on ancient quartzite mountain range
Chippewa Moraine, Harwood Lakes, Firth Lake (Northwest Wisconsin) Chippewa Moraine Reserve, county forest, SIATA, private land (14f - 17f) Chippewa 22 Primitive on county forest Walk-in campsites available at Chippewa Moraine Reserve after checking in at the visitor center Moderate Many beautiful lakes dot the route Includes 1.8-mile road walk on County Highway E, 245th Ave
Lake Eleven, Jerry Lake, Mondeaux Esker (North Central Wisconsin) Chequamegon National Forest (20f - 23f) Taylor 41 Primitive on national forest Reservable campground sites and walk-in campsites Moderate challenge on remote, less-maintained trail Wild
Wood Lake, Timberland Wilderness, Camp 27, Newwood (North Central Wisconsin) New Wood State Wildlife Area, SIATA, county forest, private land (25f - 27f) Taylor, Lincoln 29 Primitive on county forest Wood Lake County Park campground Moderate challenge on remote, less-maintained trail Wild, several active wolf packs, no paved road crossings Includes 1.9-mile road walk on gravel Tower Road
Whitewater Lake, Blackhawk, Blue Spring Lake, Stony Ridge, Eagle, Scuppernong (Southeast Wisconsin) Southern Kettle Moraine State Forest (78f - 81f) Walworth, Waukesha 33 Shelters, reservation required Reservable campground sites and walk-in campsites at Whitewater Lake and Pinewoods Easier Nearest backpacking for those living in the Milwaukee or Chicago areas DNR visitor center near the trail
Milwaukee River, Parnell, Greenbush (East Central Wisconsin) Northern Kettle Moraine State Forest (86f - 90f) Washington, Fond du Lac, Sheboygan 34 Shelters, reservation required Reservable campground sites and walk-in campsites at Mauthe Lake Easier Landscape formed by interlobate glaciation world famous among geologists Birthplace of the Ice Age Trail

Multi-day backpacking on the North Country Trail

The North Country National Scenic Trail (NCT) offers premier backpacking opportunities. Including three short temporary road walks of 2, 2.6 and 0.6 miles, there are over 118 miles of continuous trail traversing portions of three counties in Wisconsin from Copper Falls State Park to the Saint Croix National Scenic Riverway (about 15 miles southwest of Solon Springs). Below are descriptions of the segments of the trail that offer multi-day backpacking opportunities. For the latest information on trail segments and conditions, to get help finding a shuttle or to acquire maps of the NCT in Wisconsin, contact the North Country Trail Association [exit DNR].

Copper Falls State Park and Mellen segment

The North Country Trail runs several miles through Copper Falls State Park. Visitors can pick up the trail at a number of locations within the park. Part of the NCT coincides with the Doughboys' Nature Trail, where it offers spectacular views of the park's namesake waterfalls. North past the Doughboys' Trail, the NCT offers scenic views of the Bad River and a short spur trail leads to a secluded backpack campsite along the river. This campsite can be reserved online or by calling 888-947-2757. The trail continues southwest from Copper Falls State Park, passing through Mellen (one of only two towns the trail goes through in Wisconsin) before reaching a 2-mile road walk that connects to the beginning of the trail segment through the Chequamegon National Forest. For more information about this segment of the trail, email the NCTA Heritage Chapter.

Chequamegon National Forest segment

The North Country Trail goes through the Washburn and Great Divide districts of the Chequamegon National Forest for about 61 miles in Ashland and Bayfield Counties. Highlights of this stretch include views from the Penokee Mountains, numerous lakes and rivers and two of Wisconsin's federally designated wilderness areas: the Porcupine Lake Wilderness and the Rainbow Lakes Wilderness. There are numerous undesignated backpacking campsites along the trail and two shelters, as well as access to a number of National Forest campgrounds. Maps of the NCT in Wisconsin are available from the North Country Trail Association [exit DNR]. For more information about this segment of the trail, for additional trail maps or for help arranging a shuttle, email the NCTA Chequamegon Chapter.

Brule-St. Croix Area segment

The North Country Trail continues west of the Chequamegon National Forest for an additional 48 miles through a variety of properties including Bayfield and Douglas County Forests, the Brule River State Forest, the Village of Solon Springs and other lands. Highlights of this section include bluffs along the Brule River, the headwaters of the Bois Brule River, the scenic and historic Brule-St. Croix Portage, the pine barrens of Mott's Ravine State Natural Area, the Brule Bog, Lucius Woods County Park and the Douglas County Wildlife Area's extensive prairie/pine barrens. Camping is available at nine designated backpack campsites—the only places where hikers are legally allowed to camp along this stretch of trail. Each campsite includes a water source, fire ring, wilderness style latrine, bench and tent pads. A developed campground is also available in Lucius Woods County Park. For more information about this segment of the trail, for additional trail maps or for help arranging a shuttle, email the NCTA Brule-St. Croix Chapter.

Last revised: Tuesday April 14 2020