The Kettle Moraine Northern Unit is comprised of about 30,000 acres stretching 30 miles across Sheboygan, Fond du Lac and Washington Counties. The forest is managed for multiple use, including recreation management, sustainable forest products, water quality and soil protection, terrestrial and aquatic wildlife, native biological diversity and aesthetics.
Activities and recreation:
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).
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.
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.
Mauthe Lake campground
Mauthe Lake campground has 135 sites, including 51 electrical sites, one shower building with flush toilets and several vault toilets. The beach area has playground equipment and vending machines with snacks and beverages. Concessions are available for watercraft rental. Campsites accessible to people with disabilities are available. A sanitary dump station and recycling/garbage station is provided for registered campers. Mauthe Lake is open for camping year round. Call for more information.
Teepee at Mauthe Lake
Enjoy the unique opportunity to camp in a canvas reproduction of a Native American plains teepee from mid-May through September. The teepee is 16 feet in diameter and supported by 25-foot-long wooden lodge poles. Four cots are provided. If you have more than four members in your camping party, there is room on the site to accommodate an additional tent if desired.
Special tepee camping rules apply at the Kettle Moraine Northern Unit. No smoking, fuels, flames or equipment such as stoves, gas lanterns, heaters or candles are allowed inside of the tepee. Pets are not allowed. Do not spray insect repellent inside or near the tepee. This is a non-electric "tent only" site. No wheeled campers are permitted.
Long Lake campground
Long Lake campground provides 200 sites, flush and vault toilets and showers. Campsites accessible to people with disabilities are available. A sanitary dump station and recycling/garbage station is provided for registered campers. Long Lake Campground is open for camping the first weekend in May through mid-October. Call for more information.
Five backpack shelters are available year round for rustic camping along the 31 miles of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. One backpack shelter is available from April 1 through November at the Zillmer Trail area. Each site offers a roofed trail shelter, fire ring and pit toilet. Drinking water is available less than a mile from each site.
These sites are not accessible by vehicle. All camping equipment must be backpacked in and all refuse packed out. A camping permit is required and you must camp at a designated shelter campsite.
Only one reservation (camping party) is allowed per site per night. Reservations are limited to ten persons per site and are limited to one night per site. Another site may be reserved for a second night and a third night at a third site. You must call 888-947-2757, to make backpack shelter reservations—backpack shelter reservations cannot be made online.
If you do not have a reservation, you must stop in at either the Forest Headquarters, Ice Age Visitor Center or Mauthe/Long Lake Entrance Stations (when open) to obtain a camping permit. Site availability is limited for spring and fall weekends and reservations are recommended. A reservation is required for stays longer than two nights along the trail.
If all the backpack sites are reserved for a weekend night on your hiking trip, consider staying one night at the Mauthe Lake campground.
Greenbush group campground
The Greenbush group campground offers nine outdoor sites which accommodate groups up to 40 individuals. Only tent camping is allowed on the actual campsite. Sites are near the Greenbush trails, where campers can enjoy hiking or off-road biking. An enclosed shelter building, drinking water and vault toilets are available nearby. Greenbush group campground is open for camping April through November.
New Prospect horseriders' campground
The New Prospect horseriders' campground has 22 family campsites with 20/30/50 amp electric service and three group sites. In the family camping area, each site has a picnic table, fire ring and a 30-by-30-foot graveled area with picket posts and/or pipe corrals where horses are to be kept. The camp area has one drinking water source, an open air picnic shelter, vault toilet, covered stable with 24 box stalls and manure pits.
In the group camp area, each site has a drinking water source, fire ring, four picnic tables and a manure pit. Group sites A and C each have nine, 10-by-10-foot metal pipe corrals. Group Site B has two tether post areas and 12 pipe corrals. The group camp has a vault toilet. No more than 20 people may occupy a group site.
Campers are responsible to place all hay and manure in the manure pits which are located throughout the campground; wheel barrows and forks are provided. Horses are to be kept in designated areas to protect the green space of the campground.
The campground is centrally located in the state forest and provides easy access to the 33-mile bridle trail which traverses the length of the forest. There also are two loop trails, the 2.5-mile Crooked Lake Loop and the 4-mile Forest Lake Loop. All horse riders 16 years and older must have a state trail pass while using the designated bridle trails in the state forest. The campground opens the first weekend in May and closes the last weekend in October.
Picnicking and Shelters
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A total of 7.7 miles of ungroomed cross-country ski trails are available at New Fane
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.
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.
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.
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.