Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit

S91 W39091 Highway 59
Eagle, WI 53119


More than 22,000 acres of glacial hills, kettles, lakes, prairie restoration sites, pine woods and hardwood forests can be found in the Southern Unit, making this a popular area for a wide variety of visitors. The Forest is 30 miles long, extending from the village of Dousman, almost to the city of Whitewater. The forest headquarters is 3 miles west of the village of Eagle on State Highway 59.

Activities and recreation:

Hikers can enjoy miles and miles of rolling hills through pine plantations, prairies and southern hardwood forests. Trail maps help to prepare you for the distances you will encounter and the natural areas that will surround you when you hike. Hiking is available on the Scuppernong, Emma Carlin, John Muir and Nordic trails, as well as the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. There are also several shorter self-guided nature trails.

From the youngest beginner to the most avid professional, 30 miles of trail offers some of the best off-road biking in the Midwest. Normally these trails are open from mid-April to mid-February. In order to protect the trail tread, the trails are closed during wet conditions after rainfall. For up-to-date trail conditions, call 262-594-6202. We highly recommend that you do not ride while it is raining or within 4 to 6 hours after rain has stopped. Please call ahead before venturing out. A state trail pass is required for riders 16 years of age and older.

A special loop has been created for the younger mountain bike riders. This 0.4-mile loop is behind the Muir shelter and introduces young riders to the skills of off-road biking. Young riders have the option of riding the a level trail or taking short loops off the main trail to test their skills riding in sand, over rocks, narrow beams and logs.


Pinewoods campground
Pinewoods has 101 campsites, flush toilets, vault toilets and showers. There are no electrical sites at this campground. A playground is next to the shower building. This campground offers a designated area for those who want to enjoy the peace and quiet that nature has to offer. Loop 1 (of 3 loops) is a 24-hour quiet zone, meaning no pets, radios or mechanical device noises are allowed, ensuring a peaceful visit. A recycling/garbage station and sanitary dump station are within the campground. Pinewoods is available for camping from mid-May though mid-October. The only non-reservable campsites at Pinewoods are 263-268.

There are special pet-free campsites in Loop 1 (Sites 1-36) in the Pinewoods Campground. Otherwise, pets are allowed at your campsite and along campground roads.

Ottawa Lake campground
Ottawa Lake campground is the only year-round campground in the Southern Unit. It offers 100 sites, including 65 electrical sites, two shower buildings, flush toilets and a winter vault toilet building. Accessible sites are available as well as a reservable, accessible cabin designed especially for people with disabilities. A sanitary dump and recycling/garbage station are provided for the registered campers. The only non-reservable campsites at Ottawa Lake are 301-304.

Whitewater Lake campground
The Whitewater Lake campground is a primitive campground with 63 beautiful campsites. Vault toilets but no shower facilities are available at the Whitewater Lake campground. Showers are available at Pinewoods and Ottawa Lake, about 20 miles to the north. A sanitary dump and recycling/garbage station are provided for campers. Whitewater Lake is available for camping from mid-May through mid-October. The only non-reservable campsites at Whitewater Lake are 605-607.

Group camps
The group camps in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest offer a great opportunity for large groups to camp together in a beautiful, natural area. The fee for the sites is based on the number of persons occupying the campsite.

Pinewoods group camp at Pinewoods campground
Pinewoods Group Camp offers four large sites (A, B, C and D) that accommodate up to 40 people and 20 vehicles per site. The Pinewoods campground has pit toilets near the sites and a shower house with flush toilets in the center of the campground.  Electricity is not available on the campsites. Pinewoods group camp is open for camping from April 1 through the Wednesday before deer gun hunting season. This campground is on Waterville Rd. in the town of Ottawa. Campers must check in at the Ottawa Lake contact station off Hwy ZZ in Dousman.

There are special pet-free campsites in Loop 1 (Sites 1-36) in the Pinewoods Campground. Otherwise, pets are allowed at your campsite and along campground roads.

Hickory Woods group camp at Whitewater Lake campground
Hickory Woods group campsites (J, K, L, M and N) can accommodate up to 20 people and 10 vehicles per site. Hickory Woods sites (P and R) can accommodate up to 40 people and 20 vehicles per site. There are no showers or flush toilets at the campground. Campers may drive 15 minutes to the Horse camp for the nearest showers. Hickory Woods is open from mid-May through mid-October. This campground is off of County Highway P in Whitewater. Campers must check in at the Whitewater Lake contact station.

Walk-in campsites
For campers who like to camp at a more secluded and wooded campsite adjacent to a family campground, walk-in sites are available at the Pinewoods, Ottawa Lake and Whitewater Lake campgrounds. These sites are set back in the forest, anywhere from about 140 to 750 feet from their parking stalls. Each site has a picnic table, fire ring and a gravel pad for tents. Tents are restricted to the gravel pads to minimize wear and tear on the surrounding landscape. Pit toilets are near all walk-in sites.

Backpack shelters
Primitive backpack camping along the Ice Age National Scenic Trail is available year-round only at three designated trail shelter sites. Camping is only allowed at designated campsites. Backpack sites are remote sites, separate from other forest facilities and require a hike of 0.5-miles to 10-miles depending on the parking location selected by the camper. A roofed trail shelter, fire ring and pit toilet are provided at each site. These sites are not accessible by vehicle, but most have parking areas within a mile of the site. All equipment and water must be backpacked to the site and all refuse must be packed out.

Picnicking and shelters

Boating, canoeing and kayaking
Boat launches are located within the Forest at Ottawa Lake, Rice Lake and Whitewater Lake. The use of gas-powered motors is prohibited on Ottawa Lake. A vehicle admission sticker is required at all three launches. All watercraft must be equipped with a wearable Coast Guard approved personal flotation device for each person on board.

There are four lakes within or bordering the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. These lakes, ranging in size from 28 acres to 640 acres, for a total of 860 acres. The major fish populations in these lakes include panfish and walleye. Muskie, large and smallmouth bass, trout and northern pike are also present. Ottawa Lake has a fishing pier that is accessible to people who are mobility impaired and Whitewater Lake has two accessible fishing stations.

Anglers of any age may check out basic fishing equipment free of charge at the Ottawa Lake office. This equipment was donated by the Tackle Loaner Program. Call the office at 262-594-6200 to find out what equipment is available.

Horseback riding
There are 87 miles of equestrian trails s of varying lengths over a cross section of the Kettle Moraine. The Horserider's Campground offers 56 horse campsites. Horses are limited to designated horse trails. A state trail pass is required for riders ages 16 and older.

Cross-country skiing

The Nordic and McMiller trails are open for skiing when there is enough snow. Hiking, pets and snowshoes are prohibited on these ski trail systems when they are groomed for skiing. A state trail pass is required for skiers 16 years of age and older. Trails can be closed with very little warning if weather changes. Please call the Trail Information Line, 262-594-6202 before venturing out.

An 87-mile network of state forest trails join private trails in Waukesha, Jefferson and Walworth counties, which make it possible to visit adjoining towns and villages in this region. Local snowmobile clubs contracted by the state forest groom the trails. Riders will enjoy many miles of trail that traverse through the southern hardwood forests, pine plantations and open vistas.

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.

Ice fishing
The lakes freezes 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.

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 the John Muir, Emma Carlin, Connector and Scuppernong trails, all Nature Trails, and the Ice Age Trail.

Hunting and trapping
Most of the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest's 22,000 acres are open to hunting during established open seasons. Some seasons are subject to change.

Hunting is not permitted in intensive use areas such as parking lots, picnic areas or wildlife refuges or other posted special use areas. Hunting is also prohibited in Old World Wisconsin, Paradise Springs Nature Trail, Scuppernong Springs Nature Area, Rice Lake Nature Trail and within 100 yards of any campground, picnic area or posted special use area.

There are many areas of private land scattered throughout the forest. It is the hunter's responsibility to be sure to stay on state-owned property and not trespass on adjacent private lands. A hunting map is available online, at Forest Headquarters and the Ottawa Lake and Whitewater Lake Visitor Centers.

Target shooting
The only target shooting permitted within the forest is at the McMiller Sports Center in Eagle. It is owned by the state forest and operated by a concessionaire. This shooting range offers a wide range of gun and bow range opportunities that are open to the public year-round.

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