Kettle Moraine State Forest
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Introduction

Kettle Moraine State Forest is set amid the open glacial prairies and pinewood forests just an hour outside of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. RV campers will find dozens of miles of hiking trails, perfect for beautiful hikes among the wildflowers in the spring, as well as snowshoeing in the winter. There are 30 miles of mountain biking trails in the park, as well as a groomed cross-country skiing course in the winter. You can also connect to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile route leading along the edge of the glacier that used to cover the area.

You’ll also find plenty to do out on the water. The park’s four lakes have excellent walleye and northern pike fishing, and there are three boat launches that make it easy to enjoy the water. Kayak or canoe along the shaded shoreline and enjoy hot summer days on the cool waters.

There are four RV campgrounds in the park, and you’ll be able to choose from sites that sit directly on the lake, giving you waterfront views from your campervan. All of the campgrounds are pet friendly, and you’ll be within minutes of the network of hiking trails.

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Transportation in Kettle Moraine State Forest

Driving

The park is located in eastern Wisconsin, just a quick drive from Milwaukee. The park entrance can be reached easily from main roads, and the campground is accessible to larger rigs. However, the park does freeze over during the winter, so be prepared for ice during the colder months.

If you are driving from Milwaukee, take I-94 west and you will get to the park in around 45 minutes. From Madison, take I-94 east out of the city to reach the park in a little over an hour.

There are four RV campgrounds in the park, most of which can easily be accessed by large campervans. However, there are some narrow turns, especially if you are picking a site near the back of the Ottawa Lake Campground. Do note that the park is often frozen over during the winter, so snow chains are advised.

Parking

Public Transport

Campgrounds and parking in Kettle Moraine State Forest

Campsites in Kettle Moraine State Forest

Reservations camping

Pinewood Campground

There are three main loops in this campground, all of which have access to modern restrooms, drinking water, and showers. None of the sites have hookups of any kind. Each site features a picnic table and fire ring. Pets are welcome.

Ottawa Lake Campground

This is the park’s largest campground, located on the eastern border near Ottawa Lake. Many of the sites have electrical hookups, as well as picnic tables and fire pits. There are modern restrooms, as well as drinking water access points. There is also a swimming beach within a quick walk. Pets are welcome.

Whitewater Lake Campground

There are three main RV campgrounds located within the park, as well as an equestrian campground.

Whitewater Lake Campground is located on the western edge of the park. There are multiple water access points in the campground, as well as vault toilets. Firewood can be bought from the camp hots. You’ll be near the lake, giving you access to fishing and boating. Each site features a picnic table and fire ring. Pets are welcome.

First-come first-served

Alternate camping

Equestrian Campground

There is also an equestrian campground with 60 electrical sites. There is access to drinking water, as well as modern restrooms. The sites are right next to the equestrian trail.

Seasonal activities in Kettle Moraine State Forest

In-Season

Boating

There are a number of boating oppurtunities awaiting RV and trailer campers at the park, with three boat launches to choose from on Rice Lake, Ottawa Lake, and Whitewater Lake.

The long shaded shores of the lake make for perfect lake summer kayaking and canoeing. Although motorized boats are not allowed on Ottawa Lake, you are allowed to water and jet ski on the other two lakes.

If you use the boat launch, you’ll need a vehicle admission sticker. Wisconsin state regulations also require that every boat have some form of personal flotation device for every passenger.

Bicycling

Many of the park’s hiking trails are multi-use, making it a great area for mountain biking. You’ll find over 30 miles of biking trails in total, open April through February.

There is also a short 0.4-mile loop designed for young mountain bikers located just behind the Muir shelter. The loop will let you practice biking over rough terrain, including rocks, sand, and logs. If you plan on biking in the park, you’ll need a state trail biking pass, which can be obtained online or from the park office.

Hiking

There are a number of trails leading through the hardwood pine and prairies of the park. There are dozens of miles of trails within the park, and you can also connect to a network of trails that lead you through the surrounding area.

You can also connect to the Ice Age National Scenic Trail, a 1,200-mile long trail that traces the outline of the glacier that used to cover a large portion of North America.

If you want a more relaxing tour of the park’s natural sights, you can head to one of the nature trails. They give you more information on the park’s wildlife, as well as the ecological history of the area.

Off-Season

Hunting

Most of Kettle Moraine State Forest is open to hunting during the scheduled game seasons. The open prairie fields and thick pine forests give game such as deer plenty of cover, while still giving hunters great sightlines.

Hunting is forbidden in any of the park’s nature trails, including the Paradise Springs Nature Trail, as well as near Rice Lake and within 100 yards of the campground. There are also many plots of private land dotted throughout the forest, and it is up to you to ensure that you don’t trespass. Check with park officials to see an up to date park map that lists all restricted areas.

Cross-Country Skiing

The dozens of miles of trails in the park turn into a scenic cross-country skiing course when the forest freezes over. The Nordic and Macmiller trails are both open to skiers when conditions are right, These trails are also usually groomed, making them accessible for skiers of all experience levels.

The park often closes the trails on short notice due to changes in the weather. You can find more information on the status of the trails by calling the park office. Do note that pets are not allowed on the cross country skiing trails.

Ice Fishing

RV campers who visit during the winter don’t need to store their rod and reel. The four lakes around the park freeze over for most of the winter, giving you plenty of oppurtunities for ice fishing. The fish will not be quite as active, but you should still get plenty of bites from walleye, as well as northern pike.

The park does not monitor ice conditions, so you venture out onto any of the lakes at your own risk. Always get the latest ice conditions before fishing, as thickness can change quickly. The park office checks out basic fishing equipment, but availability may be low during the winter months.

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