Local forest offers year-round fun


Sept. 10, 2014

By Abrielle Backhaus


Summer break may be over, but summer activities continue on in the Kettle Moraine State Forest Southern Unit. The forest is packed with recreational activities to fill any day with nature and fresh air.

Senior and UW-Whitewater Outdoor Club member, Austin Krueger said he recommends everyone get out and discover nature.

“Just being away from it all is great and not having to worry about life,” Krueger said. “The other best part is that you can always find new things that are interesting. Be that you find a new plant or animal, even the small insects and other kreepy crawlies can be entertaining to look at.”

The Kettle Moraine Forest is largely known for its three main campgrounds.

Ottowa Lake, located on S59 W36530 County ZZ Dousman, WI offers 100 campsites, 49 of which have electric hookup. Cabins are also available for rent. Ottowa Lake is open year-round for camping.

Whitewater Lake is a 15-minute drive from campus at W7796 Kettle Moraine Drive and offers 63 campsites from Mid-May to Mid-October.

Pinewoods Campground is a group campground that can fit 40 people per site. This campground is on Waterville Road in the town of Ottawa.

Campsite reservations are encouraged especially for weekend dates May through October. Reservations may be made up to 11 months in advance or as late as two days before the arrival date. There are also first come first serve sites available for the desired arrival date.

Standard campsites are $12 a night and electric campsites are $17 a night.

Visitor Service Associate, Kim Mews said the Kettle Moraine campgrounds fill-up frequently.

“It’s still been pretty busy,” Mews said. “All the reserve-able campsites still get reserved every weekend, and then we have our first come first serve sites and those have been going every weekend as well.”

Besides camping, the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit hosts other leisure activities. The Natural History Museum at the Forest Headquarters allows nature enthusiasts to partake in a nature program, purchase a souvenir at the Trading Post Gift Shop, or watch a 20-minute video on the formation of the Kettles. The Natural History Museum at the Forest Headquarters is open year-round 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Sunday.

The Southern Unit State Forest also features six self-guided nature trails which are scattered throughout the Southern Unit.

Mews said the trails get a lot of use throughout the year. Whether it is for planned runs or bike races or to watch the leaves change color in autumn, the forest’s trails are well-liked.

“Checking out the ice age trail in the unit would be a good one (to see the leaves change color),” Mews said.  “It’s a really popular area for camping and it’s really beautiful, so I would recommend to check it out.”

Krueger said the Outdoor Club takes a lot of trips to go hiking in the Southern Unit by Eagle.

“Besides hiking and stuff we also do a skydiving event and go to Boulders in Madison to go rock climbing,” Krueger said. “We have plans to go to Helium Trampoline Park and in winter we go to Alpine to go snowboarding and skiing as well as ice skating in Janesville.”

As the warm weather passes, the state parks open their recreation areas to winter activities which include: cross-country skiing, snowmobiling, ice fishing, snowshoeing, hunting and trapping.

For more information about the Kettle Moraine contact Forest Headquarters at 262-594-6200 or visit dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kms/index.html.

To learn more about UW-W Outdoor Club meetings are held at 9 p.m. on Wednesday in University Center or contact Joe McCarthy at [email protected]