Cross-Country Skiing in the Kettle Moraine State Forest

February 3, 2021

Activity around Elkhart Lake doesn’t stop when the water turns cold and the last Fall leaves settle on the ground. In fact, many outdoor enthusiasts can’t wait for the snow to fly.

Over the last two years, I’ve been introduced to a very loyal and passionate group of cross-country skiers in the area. As a novice to the sport, it has been fun to learn more about the extensive trail system nearby. Just 10 minutes from downtown Elkhart Lake, the Greenbush Group Camp parking lot (in the Kettle Moraine State Forest) is the starting point for over 15 miles of well-groomed trails. Winding country roads connect Elkhart Lake to this skier’s paradise (or “Nordic Heaven” according to the local club), complete with a small log cabin for warming up.

The trail system is named by colors, and serious skiers talk about completing a “rainbow” on good condition days (i.e. one loop of each color). As a newbie, I enjoy the brown loop, a relatively easy 1-mile loop that starts and ends at the cabin. Read more about the different trails:

Get the full trail map:

Ski Trails Only

Ski + Snowshoe + Biking Trails

What to know before you go:

  • In addition to a State Park Pass (daily or annual –, a Trail Pass ($5 daily or $25 annual – is also required for skiers. These can both be purchased from the parking lot attendant on weekends or in the drop box during the week (CASH ONLY).
  • Check before you go for trail conditions (go to Trails/Trail Reports/SE Wisconsin to find “Greenbush”):
  • Trails are groomed for both classic and skate skiing
  • Don’t miss the log cabin and its stove. Bring some cocoa/snacks and make time for a break. It’s part of a complete skiing experience!
  • These trails are hilly. Located in the Kettle Moraine State Park (glacially sculpted contour), there are lots of ups and downs.
  • Snowshoeing and fat-tire bikes are also welcome (on their own set of trails – see trail map link included earlier in post)
  • Some of the trails have lights for nighttime skiing
  • A local ski club manages the trails and the log cabin, and they have a website that can help to answer any other specific questions. More details and photos here:

Happy skiing!

William Jacob

William Jacob is from Sheboygan, WI. He grew up spending summers at Elkhart Lake and has a strong family connection to the area. He enjoys kayaking, hiking and camping and his outdoor adventures have taken him to all seven continents. William is a big advocate for the natural beauty of Elkhart Lake and the surrounding area.

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