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Winter Recreation

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit

Cross-country skiing

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit boasts more than 30 miles of groomed and ungroomed cross-country ski trails. Cross-country skiing.

Winter bicycling

In winter, the mountain bike trails at the Greenbush Recreation Area (9 miles) are machine-groomed for fat-tire biking. Hikers and snowshoers are encouraged to find alternative trails when the bike trails are snow covered or groomed. Bikers must keep off of cross-country ski trails. 

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 is not maintained in the winter.  

Snowshoeing and winter hiking

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

Butler Lake trail

On Butler Lake Road, 1.5 miles east of the 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 and drinking water are at the trailhead. Butler Lake trail loop [PDF].

Moraine nature trail

This 0.75-mile, easy nature trail loop begins at the Ice Age Visitor Center. A self-guided booklet links to the numbered posts along the trail and identifies the common trees of the Kettle Moraine. Picnic tables are available at the trailhead. Pets are not allowed on this trail. Moraine Nature Trail [PDF].

New Fane trail system

On County Line Road, 1.5 miles east of Kettle Moraine Drive, the New Fane area has two trail systems: four loops of moderately challenging mountain bike trails totaling 5.5 miles, interwoven with four loops of hiking trails totaling 7.7 miles. A short connector 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 user-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 trailhead and drinking water and vault toilets are available year-round. A state trail pass is required for all bike riders age 16 and over. New Fane trail system [PDF].

Parnell Tower trail

On County Highway U, a 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 trailhead. Parnell trail loop [PDF].

Summit trail

Accessed from the Long Lake Campgrounds (upper 900s loop), the Summit Trail is a 1-mile nature trail loop that 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 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. Flush toilets are available year-round on the headquarters side. Tamarack trail loop [PDF].


The forest has about 60 miles of snowmobile trails.

The opening and closing of snowmobile trails are at the discretion of each county. Snowmobile trails that cross DNR lands are opened and closed consistent with the surrounding county (or counties). Whenever possible, the opening and closing of snowmobile trails are 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]local club and county snowmobile webpages [exit DNR] and telephone hotlines will provide the most current information.

Snowmobile trails

The Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit's network of snowmobile trails joins county and private trails that connect 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 [PDF].

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

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