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Kettle Moraine State Forest—Northern Unit Activities and recreation

Hiking Hiking

There are several miles of hiking trails within the forest. The Ice Age National Scenic Trail travels for 31 miles through the length of the forest. Hiking is also available at the Greenbush recreation area (13.5 miles), New Fane loop system trails (7.7 miles), Zillmer loop area (11.4 miles), Butler Lake loop (3 miles), Parnell Tower loop (3.5 miles), Tamarack loop (2 miles) and the Lake to Lake Bike Trail (6.5 miles). Trail descriptions.

Pets are allowed on all hiking trails except the nature trails, as long as they on a leash 8 feet or shorter at all times. Hiking and pets are not allowed on designated cross-country ski trails in winter.

Bicycling Bicycling

Single-track mountain bike trails are maintained at the Greenbush recreation area (9 miles) and New Fane recreation area (5.5 miles). A state trail pass is required for all bike riders age 16 and over on these trails. Normally these trails are opened in late April through November, depending on trail conditions. We highly recommend that you not ride while it is raining or within 4 to 6 hours after rain has stopped. The 6.5-mile Lake to Lake Trail connects Mauthe Lake and Long Lake recreation areas and is open to both bicyclists and hikers. The Lake to Lake Trail does not require a state trail pass. Trail descriptions.

Camping Camping

Camping at Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit

Nature programs Nature programs

See the Get Outdoors! Events Calendar for a list of all nature programs and events at the Forest, or check out:

Picnicking Picnicking and Shelters

Reservable shelters within the Forest

Fishing Fishing

Kettle Moraine recreation area has more than a dozen lakes and ponds, mostly kettles, but also two impoundments of the Milwaukee River.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the Mauth Lake and Long Lake recreation areas entrance stations, when open. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program.

Fishing along the east shore of Long Lake Several private vendors within the forest sell licenses, bait and other fishing supplies. The primary fish species in these lakes include largemouth bass, bluegill, crappies and northern pike. Mauthe Lake and Long Lake recreation areas have fishing piers that are accessible to people who are mobility-impaired. Lakes within the Forest.

Boating Canoeing/Kayaking Boating, canoeing and kayaking

Public access is provided on these lakes by either a developed boat landing or walk-in access. A private concessionaire provides various types of watercraft for fishing at a number of these lakes. Lake Seven, Mauthe, Forest and Butler Lakes prohibit the use of gas-powered motors. Other boating restrictions may apply. Check at landings for posted information regarding wake/no wake rules and whether or not a state park vehicle admission sticker is required. Lakes within the Forest.

Swimming Swimming

Children and adults enjoy the Mauthe Lake Beach on a sunny summer day.The state forest has three swimming beaches, one at Mauthe Lake and two at Long Lake. Swimming areas are designated by marker buoys. Lifeguards are not provided. Pets, soaps, food and beverages are prohibited in marked swim areas. Picnic tables, grills and toilets are available near the beaches. A carry in, carry out policy applies at these day-use areas. Mauthe Lake's beach and Long Lake's south beach include playground equipment suitable for young children and a reservable picnic shelter. Water quality is tested regularly from Memorial Day to Labor Day and any advisories will be posted at the beaches.

Horseback Riding Horseback riding

Equestrians enjoy 41 miles of bridle trail which are traditionally open late-April through mid-November depending on trail conditions. A state trail pass is required for all riders age 16 and over on these trails. Equestrian camping is available at the New Prospect Horse Riders Campground.

Cross-Country Skiing Cross-country skiing

The warming shelter occasionally is used as headquarters for ski races. At the Greenbush recreation area more than 13 miles of machine-groomed cross-country ski trails are provided for diagonal and skate skiers. Pets and hiking are not allowed on ski trails. A state trail pass is required at Greenbush and Zillmer for all skiers age 16 and over.

The 1.2-mile Brown Loop at Greenbush is lighted for night skiing. The trail lights can be activated by skiers nightly between 4:30 and 9:30 p.m. A heated log shelter house, a sledding hill and nine miles of snowshoe trails also are open to the public at the Greenbush recreation area.

Volunteers from the Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club (NKMNSC), in cooperation with the state forest, regularly machine groom the ski trail system for diagonal and skate skiing. For more information on trail conditions and the NKMNSC, visit the NKMNSC web site [exit DNR].

More than 11 miles of cross-country ski trails are available at the Zillmer Trail Area. Forest staff regularly machine groom the trails for diagonal and skate skiing. For current ski trails conditions in southeastern Wisconsin including Zillmer visit the Friends of Lapham Peak Web site [exit DNR].

A total of 7.7 miles of ungroomed cross-country ski trails are available at New Fane. Trail descriptions.

Ice Fishing Ice fishing

The lakes freeze over for about three months each winter. The forest does not monitor or measure the thickness of the ice on the lakes. Ice thickness and safety can vary from day to day and from location to location. Use your best judgment about the safety of the ice. Access to Butler and Forest Lakes are not maintained in the winter. Off-road vehicles (snowmobiles, ATVs) are not allowed on Mauthe Lake.

Snowshoeing Snowshoeing

Hikers and snowshoers may explore several miles of trails that are not groomed for skiing. Some trails in the forest that are open for snowshoeing include, Greenbush and New Fane snowshoe trails, Moraine Nature Trail, Tamarack Nature Trail, Parnell Trail, Butler Lake Trail and the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. Trail descriptions.

Snowmobiling Snowmobiling

The forest has about 60 miles of snowmobile trails.

The opening and closing of snowmobile trails is at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails which cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails is done on a county-wide basis, however localized conditions may require localized trail opening and closing. It is the responsibility of the county to provide notification about the status of snowmobile trails. The Travel Wisconsin Snow Conditions Report [exit DNR], and local club and county snowmobile web pages [exit DNR] and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

Local club and county snowmobile associations in the Kettle Moraine area include:

  • Fond du Lac County Snowmobile Association
  • Northern Kettle Moraine Snowmobile Association

Hunting Trapping Hunting and trapping

About 95 percent of the Kettle Moraine State Forest—Northern Unit is open to public hunting during established open seasons. Some seasons may be subject to change. Consult the hunting and trapping regulations before going hunting. Because the forest is used by many other recreationists, hunters should be especially aware of gun safety and his/her conduct while hunting. Hunting near any trail being used by hikers, equestrians, bikers and/or skiers is discouraged. The most heavily used trails are Crooked Lake, Forest Lake, Greenbush, Butler Lake, Parnell Tower, Zillmer and New Fane loop trails, as well as the Ice Age National Scenic Trail and the bridle/snowmobile trails which traverse the linear length of the forest. The Zillmer trail is closed to hunting with firearms, except during the gun deer season and spring turkey hunting season.

Areas restricted from hunting include the 850-acre wildlife refuge around Mauthe Lake and areas of high public use such as recreation areas, campgrounds and the Ice Age Visitor Center. There are many acres of private land scattered throughout the forest. Take care to stay on state-owned property and not trespass on adjacent private lands.

Target shooting is prohibited throughout the forest. The northern unit has two dog training areas available for training hunting dogs. Scheduled dog trials will take precedence over dog training. These areas will be posted when trials are scheduled or call forest headquarters for more information.

Pets Pets and dog training

Pets are permitted [PDF] in all campgrounds, most trails, roads and outlying areas. Mauthe Lake and Long Lake Recreational Areas provide designated pet picnic areas for pet owners. Buildings, picnic, beach areas, playgrounds, marked "nature" trails and cross-country ski trails are off limits to pets, except disability service animals. Pets must be on a leash no longer than 8 feet, under control and attended at all times, unless in a designated area that allows pets to be off-leash.

The forest has two areas designated as dog training areas. Dog training means teaching a dog to retrieve, point, flush and/or track game for the hunting or dog trail competition. The wet dog training area, on Division Road just south of County Highway F, is recommended for water skills training; while the dry dog training area, on County Highway U just east of County Highway A, should be used for developing upland bird skills. Consult Wisconsin dog training and trialing or contact forest headquarters to determine if a permit [PDF] is required for the type of training you plan to do.

Last revised: Monday May 15 2017