WI Kenosha Kenosha Dunes
Small dunes area with trails running through it suitable for short walks and nature viewing. Kenosha Dunes is part of the Chiwaukee Prairie State Natural Area
- Terrain / Scenery: Small dunes area, wetlands and prairie area inland.
- Fees / Permits: None
- Trail Conditions: Sand or gravel
- Trail Markings: Dunes Trail is marked, all others are unmarked
- Facilities: Water and restrooms (seasonal) located in Southport Park.
- Official Web Page: None
- Getting There: Access from Southport Park located off of 75th Street at the lakefront. Park in main lot and walk to south end of park (east of the sewerage treatment plant). Trail is located just beyond fence. Also accessed from 85th Street.
This area would be more aptly named “What’s left of Kenosha Dunes”. This very small dunes area (about a half mile long and just a couple hundred feet wide) is all that remains of dunes that were common throughout the area hundreds of years ago. Far from pristine, this dunes remnant had been abused in past decades by dirt bikes and other off-road vehicle use as well as a lot of teenage partiers. In addition, the shoreline is far from natural (large piled rocks for erosion control). Now that it’s protected, the dunes area is starting to look more natural. The trails here have been unofficial for many years, but there is now an "Official" Dunes Trail (yellow on the map) that is marked with posts with Yellow paint on them. They've designed the marked Dunes Trail to be accessed from 85th Street (there is an official trailhead there) but that forces you to park on the side of the road, and the signs posted there would lead you to beleive you are trespassing.
I prefer accessing the trails from Southport Park. There is now a crushed stone trail that leads from the parking lot to the south end of Southport Park where you can access the dunes just beyond the fence that goes around the sewerage treatment plant (located between Southport Park and Kenosha Dunes). The main trail along the lake is basically an old gravel road. The trails shown in red on the map are not marked, these are the old trails that have been used for years. There are additional trails here as well, but these are the main ones that are still getting regular use.
If you want to go directly to the official Dunes Trail, just follow the gravel trail along the lake until you come to the first Yellow marker, then you can follow the markers in either direction to complete the dunes loop. The dunes area is very fragile so I would suggest staying on the main trails even though you will see numerous additional trails passing through the dunes. You’re not going to see anything on the smaller trails that you can’t see from the main trail. If you look at the photo at the top of this page, the photo is taken from the official dunes trail, but those trails you see in the photo are not part of the official trail, and you should stay off of them to allow the dunes to more fully recover. The marked trail is pretty easy to follow (you can usually see the next marker post each time you pass a post) except at the north end where it crosses the dunes heading inland. Most of the regular walkers out here seem to prefer the old trails so they make a bigger loop rather than cutting across in the middle here, so that section of trail isn't that obvious. Just keep heading across the dunes inland until you get to higher ground where you will see a post.
If you want to see more dunes, a larger dunes area is located at the south end of Illinois Beach State Park located about 15 miles further south.
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This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki