WI Kenosha

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Kenosha Area Trails:

Hiking Trails, Bicycle Paths, Mountain Bike Trails, Cross-Country Ski Trails, as well as places to paddle a canoe or kayak in and around Kenosha, Wisconsin, including nearby trails in Racine County and Northern Lake County, Illinois.

Petrifying Springs County Park Trails

I don’t think I’m going out on a limb in saying that it’s highly unlikely that Kenosha will ever make the list of top vacation spots for adventure travelers. Even if you limited the list to places in Wisconsin, it still wouldn’t make it. But, if you look hard enough (as I have over the years) and show a little flexibility in your activities you may be surprised as to just how much there is to do in the Kenosha area. Sure I’d rather be paddling in the Boundary Waters, cross-country skiing in the U.P., Mountain Biking the CAMBA trails, or hiking somewhere in Canada. But those are places I am fortunate enough to be able to occasionally visit for short periods of time. Kenosha, on the other hand, is where I live and subsequently spend most of my time.

Fortunately, there are places to paddle, ski, mountain bike, hike, bike, skate, run, and swim in the Kenosha area or nearby. Sure, they are mostly smaller trails in county and city parks, but as a whole, all these little outdoor opportunities add up to some pretty good outdoor recreation.

Kenosha Lakefront in Winter

Fun Fact: Eastern Kenosha County kind of has its own little continental divide thing going. Waters flowing down the Pike River or any of the small creeks on the far east portion of the county will work their way into Lake Michigan, then through the St Lawrence Seaway along the Canadian Border, and finally to the Atlantic Ocean. Meanwhile, waters flowing down the Des Plaines River or Fox River will work their way towards the Illinois River, then the Mississippi river, and on to the Gulf of Mexico. So theoretically, you could calculate and draw an imaginary line on the map of eastern Kenosha county where any rain falling to one side of the line would eventually end up in the Atlantic Ocean, while rain falling only inches away would eventually end up in the Gulf of Mexico. And Yes, I realize the Gulf of Mexico is technically part of the Atlantic ocean, but that doesn't make this little fun fact any less interesting.

Overview Map

This map is intended to show the general locations of trails in the Kenosha area that are documented on Trailville.com. It does not represent all parks or all trails in the area. In addition, the underlying map is a 40-year-old map from the USGS (I'm using it because it is in the public domain) and is not intended for navigation.

Ovierview map of Kenosha Area Trails


Google Maps I've created a Google Maps page that includes trailheads and access points to trails in the Kenosha Area. Click the link below to view.


The Trails

Kenosha area trails

Des Plaines River
Bristol Woods County Park
  • Petrifying Springs County Park - Scenic county park with a significant number of trails suitable for hiking, mountain biking, and cross country skiing.
  • Prairie Springs Park - Mostly man-made newer park with an asphalt trail around a lake and some short trails in the woods.
  • Kenosha Dunes - Very small dunes area with short walking trails running through it.

Racine area:

  • Cliffside Park - A little bit of everything at this county park including "cliffs", Lake Michigan shoreline, prairie, woods, and a ravine along a small creek.
  • Root River - Racine - Diverse paddling ranging from quiet water to rapids.


Just south of the border:

Illinois Beach State Park
  • Illinois Beach State Park - Illinois State Park with trails for hiking and biking as will as coastline for paddling and hiking.
  • Glacial Park Scenic County park with interesting glacial features and hiking/ski trails.


Worth a drive:

Kettle Moraine Mountain Bike Trails


Recommendations by activity

Hiking

Almost every trail listed has some hiking opportunities. For scenery I think Petrifying Springs County Park ,Illinois Beach State Park in Zion , Gander Mountain Forest Preserve just south of Wilmot, and Cliffside Park in Racine would top my list of nearby trails to see. But Bristol Woods County Park , Silver Lake County Park Trails , Fox River Park , Prairie Springs Park , Peorio Park Nature Trails , Kenosha Dunes, and Van Patten Woods Forest Preserve all provide some nice trails.

For miles of prairie trails, Richard Bong State Recreation Area Trails is the place to go. For scenery and many miles of rugged hiking trails as well as some easier nature trails, traveling to the southern unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest Trails can't be beat. Also, *Glacial Park in Mchenry County Illinois has some nice trails and scenery.

Biking

For biking, the scenic meandering Des Plaines River Trail is the clear leader. More off-road biking (not mountain biking) is available at Kenosha Area Bike Paths , Kenosha Lakefront Trails , and Illinois Beach State Park.

Parkside Cross Country Ski Trail

Mountain Biking

For serious mountain bikers wanting to ride locally, there is some nice singletrack at Petrifying Springs County Park and Silver Lake County Park in Kenosha or Beulah Park in Zion, Illinois. There are some easy trails at Richard Bong State Recreation Area that may interest more casual mountain bikers. Or, you can travel to Kettle Moraine State Forest John Muir and Emma Carlin Trails for a popular mountain bike trail system with over 30 miles of trails or to The Alpha Trail in Whitnall Park southwest of Milwaukee which is adjacent to The Rock Bike Park a lift-assisted downhill mountain bike park.

There are also trails at Lake Geneva Canopy Tours and at Alpine Valley and an indoor bike park at Rays in Milwaukee, I don't have pages set up for these, they are commercial trail systems.

With all these mountain biking options I rarely travel outside of SE WI anymore for mountain biking.


Cross-Country Skiing

For local groomed trails we have the Parkside Cross Country Ski Trails. For ungroomed skiing you can check out Richard Bong State Recreation Area, Petrifying Springs County Park, Bristol Woods County Park, Silver Lake County Park Trails , Peorio Park Nature Trails, or Fox River Park. There is also some nice ungroomed skiing at Glacial Park in Mchenry County, IL.

For really good skiing you need to travel to Kettle Moraine State Forest and check out the Nordic Trails, McMiller Trails, Scuppernong, or the Lapham Peak Unit (each is about an hour drive from Kenosha). Or go even further to the northern unit and the Greenbush Trails.

Paddling

Illinios Beach State Park

The Des Plaines River offers the most paddling opportunities in the area, but the first section of Nippersink Creek in Illinois would have to be my "if you could only paddle one place" pick. The Root River in Racine provides some diverse paddling opportunities. For some rather limited local paddling you may want to try the Pike River.

Lake Michigan also provides some nice paddling, my preference is putting in at Illinois Beach State Park, but there are also plenty of places to put in at the Kenosha Lakefront.



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This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki