WI Kenosha Parkside Trails
The Parkside cross-country ski trail system in Kenosha is owned by the University of Wisconsin - Parkside and groomed by volunteers using equipment on loan from the Kenosha County Parks Dept. When snow conditions are good, the trails are usually freshly groomed/regroomed on the weekends for both classical and skating. There is a total of approximately 5 miles of trail here, but there are also many more miles of ungroomed trails across the street at Petrifying Springs Park. The trail system is not particularly scenic (though the park across the street is), but the skiing is pretty good and as far as I know, it is the only groomed ski trail remaining in Kenosha County or Racine County.
- Terrain / Scenery: Mix of prairie and wooded areas with flat to gently rolling terrain, a few hills.
- Fees / Permits: None, but donations are accepted for grooming (more information below).
- Trail Conditions: The Parkside Trails are now listed on SkinnySki.com, so you can post and view ski trail reports there at http://skinnyski.com/trails/traildetail.asp?Id=510 .
- Trail Markings: None, there are markings but they are for running trails and don't correspond correctly to the ski routes.
- Facilities: None in winter
- Official Web Page: None
- Getting There: The Parkside trail system is located between the cities of Kenosha and Racine on Kenosha County Road JR east of Highway 31 (Green Bay Road). There is a small parking lot on the North side of the road (the parking lot is actually part of Petrifying Springs County Park ). The trailhead is on the South side of County Road JR just across from the small parking lot. There are NO signs on the road designating the ski trail system, but you can see the ski trail from County Road JR (it runs parallel to JR at the trailhead). The photo on the right shows the trailhead area facing West. The parking lot is directly across the road to the right of this photo. Here is a link to trailhead location on Google Maps
Update: As of February 2019 grooming of the ski trail has resumed
Donations encouraged: We have these groomed trails as the result of a unique cooperative effort between the University of Wisconsin - Parkside (the owners of the land), the Kenosha County Parks Department (the owners of the grooming equipment), and local volunteers (the folks doing the work). There is now a facebook page/group set up for the Parkside Community Nordic Skiers at https://www.facebook.com/groups/ParksideSkiers/ who also have a Go Fund Me page for the purchase of a new snowmobile to groom the trails. They have purchased the snowmobile but it looks like they are still raising money. Here is the link as of Feb 2019 https://www.gofundme.com/parkside-trail-grooming-snowmobile .
Trail Map: There are no maps located at this trail system nor are there any trail markers (the markers you encounter on the trails are for the cross country running trails and do not follow the route of the ski trails). The colors used on the map (below)are for demonstration purposes only and are used to distinguish the main trail (blue) from the optional loops (green) and the ungroomed connector trails. Once again, there is no color coding on the actual trails.
The Western two-thirds of the trail system is generally flat with some gradual grades (great for double-poling) and easy hills. The Eastern third has a couple of hills that absolute beginners may want to avoid (this section can be avoided by returning to the trailhead via the connector trail that runs across the open area just to the east of the trail head). Intermediate skiers or more experienced beginners shouldn't have any problem with the hills as long as trail conditions are good.
The main trail (shown in blue) is groomed for both skating and classic. The unofficial direction is counter clockwise (see arrows on map). The main trail is wider and more heavily used than the side trails, so it's very easy to follow even though there are no trail markers.
The first optional loop (shown in green) at the Southwest corner of the system is groomed for skating and classical and runs through the Pines area. This small loop (0.45 miles) gets dirty pretty quick due to the pines so unless the snow is relatively fresh, you may want to avoid this loop. The second optional loop is a narrow winding route that runs about a mile through the woods. This side loop is sometimes ungroomed, sometimes groomed with a classic track, and sometimes just groomed flat. If it's ungroomed or has a set classic track it should probably be considered a classic-only trail, however if it's groomed flat there is just enough room for skating (lately they have been grooming it flat).
If you combine the main loop with both optional loops, the total loop will be approximately 4.6 miles.
The ungroomed open area in the middle of the system can also be skied. Occasionally the groomer will groom an additional loop here.
Overall this is a nice local xc ski trail system primarily because of the excellent grooming and the fact that there actually are a few small hills here. In addition, there are many more skiable miles (ungroomed) across the street in Petrifying Springs Park. You can ski anywhere (including on the golf course) in the park and there are some hills. The scenery in the park is also much better than that of the Parkside ski trails.
There is no real comparison (in scenery, miles, or terrain) between this small local trail system and the bigger trail systems in nearby Kettle Moraine State Forest. This is a nice trail system for us locals, but I don’t think it's worth a drive under most conditions. However, there are those occasions in snow-starved southeast Wisconsin when an isolated snowfall can temporarily make this trail the best ski trail in the region.
Hiking and trail running are allowed on the trails when there is no skiable snow on them and when the university is not using them for an event. Bicycles are not allowed on these trails.
This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki