Weekend Backpacker: Milwaukee

Kettle Moraine South
  |  Gorp.com

As its name implies, the Kettle Moraine State Forest—Southern Unit runs along part of a sinuous ridge known as the Interlobate Moraine. This 120-mile ridge formed as the result of a collision between two fingers of the ancient Wisconsin Glacier. As the two massive ice lobes collided, pressure and friction caused the ice to melt, depositing loads of rock, gravel, and sand to create a glacial drift.

Today a 35-mile segment of the Ice Age Trail runs through the the Kettle Moraine State Forest—Southern Unit. The segment starts at the Pine Woods campground near Highway G, north of Eagle, south of Highways CI and C. It ends at Whitewater Lake east of Whitewater.

Recommended trip: Begin at the Pine Woods Campground at the northern edge of the forest and head south to the Scuppernong segment (5.8 miles long). This section of the trail meanders through hardwood forest with at least two spectacular viewing opportunities along the way. Walk up to Spy Glass Hill on the 0.3-mile spur trail to shelter #1 to see an incredible view of an outwash plain that was flattened by water as the glacier melted.

Heading south on the Eagle (6.3 miles) and Stony Ridge (3.1 miles) segments, you will traverse exposed portions of Niagara limestone and a glacial lake bed that comes alive with prairie flowers during the spring and summer. At the southern end of the Stony Ridge, you'll pass through several sections of dry prairie before moving into the wooded and open Blue Spring segment (7 miles), which traverses the top of moraines and passes small ponds. The highlight of this segment is an erratic, known as the Stone Elephant. Take a side trip to the top of Bald Bluff for panoramic views to the west. Shelter #2 is located at the end of the Stony Ridge segment and provides a good overnight camping spot.

The next segment, the Blackhawk (6.9 miles), winds through pine woods along scenic moraines past a restored cabin and around LaGrange Lake. Shelter #3 is located in the middle of the Blackhawk segment.The Whitewater Lake segment (4 miles) continues to wind up and down along wooded moraines with their kettles (ponds formed from depressions left by retreating glaciers) below. This segment features a beautiful view of Rice Lake. Camping, picnicking, and swimming are also possibilities at Whitewater Lake Recreation Area.

Camping: Three open-front lean-to shelters with dirt floors, a nearby latrine, fire pit, and tenting space are located along the trail. Reservations must be made through the forest headquarters with full payment at least a week in advance. There is a one-night, ten-person limit at each shelter. Shelter campers need to carry water with them. At the northern end of the forest, campsites are available in the Pine Woods (101 sites) and Ottawa Lake Campgrounds (100 sites). Whitewater Lake Campground (63 sites) and Hickory Woods Group Campground (5 sites) are at the southern end of the forest.

Getting there: Forest headquarters is located on State Highway 59, three miles west of Eagle. It is open from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. daily.

Permits: A Wisconsin State Park and Forest vehicle admission sticker is required for all vehicles. Campers must obtain a permit prior to setting up camp. Camping fees are $8 to $12 per night. A trail pass is required for bikers age 16 or older.

Maps: Maps are available through the Ice Age Park and Trail Foundation or the Kettle Moraine State Forest—Southern Unit. Ask for Ice Age Trail segments 16 and 17.

Other: Biking and skiing are permitted on the trail. Forest day-use areas are open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. Bear ticks (also called deer ticks) have been present in the forest since the early 1980s. Deer ticks are active from spring until fall. Check yourself, family members, and pets thoroughly for ticks after hiking in the forest for these Lyme diseasetransmitting pests. Repellents containing 30 percent DEET or permethrin work best against ticks.


Published: 29 Apr 2002 | Last Updated: 15 Sep 2010
Details mentioned in this article were accurate at the time of publication

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