WI Kenosha Silver Lake County Park Trails

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Silver Lake County Park - Kenosha, Wisconsin

Silver Lake County Park Trails
Mountain Bike Trails in Silver Lake County Park

Silver Lake County Park is best know for the swimming beach on Silver Lake, but also has some trails that run through the hilly inland areas. There are about 2.5 miles of wide trails suitable for hiking , cross-country skiing, and mountain biking, plus another 6+ miles of new singletrack designed specifically for mountain biking (see mountain biking section for notes on new trails). There are also some smaller sections of narrow hiking trail.

  • Terrain / Scenery: Scenic Park with wide crushed stone or grass covered trails and narrow singletrack running through some rather hilly terrain.
  • Fees / Permits: Entry fee may be charged for beach area in season, and for entire park on certain summer holidays.
  • Trail Conditions and updates: Mountain bike trail conditions available at Kenosha Off-Road Bicycle Association (KORBA) and via the Trail Hotline at (262) 857-1876
  • Trail Markings: Wide multi-use trails are unmarked, the new mountain bike trails are marked.
  • Official Web Page: http://www.co.kenosha.wi.us/Facilities/Facility/Details/9
  • Getting There: Silver Lake County Park is located West of the city of Kenosha on Silver Lake Road just South of Highway 50. There is a large sign at the entrance. Google Map


Update 2014: Construction of an official mountain bike trail system began in June 2014. The trailhead is by Parking Lot #4. See mountain biking section for more information.

Silver Lake Trail Map

Park roads and parking areas are represented by the dark gray areas on the map. The numbers in the parking lots represent the picnic/parking area numbers used within the park (you'll see park signs with these numbers). You can access the main trails from any of the parking areas within the park.


Yellow on the map represents the main multi-use (hiking, biking, skiing) trail. The wide main trail is crushed stone in some places, grass covered in others, and dirt or wood chip covered in others.

Green areas represent wooded areas within the park, areas not shown green are open park area (mostly mowed grass park areas).

The Orange dashed lines on the map represent where you can connect sections of trails by going through the open park areas. These connectors are not marked, I just show where you have open space to use to connect. The solid Orange trail is a short interpretive hiking trail.

Purple represents new mountain bike trails (see mountain biking section for more information).

Red represents some narrower (possibly unmaintained) trails within the park. Some may be difficult to follow. There may be additional trails not shown on this map.

I overlaid the map over a topographic background to show the topography of the park. The location and scale of the park and trails relative to the topographic map is estimated. Also, the topographic map is quite old and is not completely accurate.


Map WI Kenosha Silver Lake County Park.png

Mountain Biking:

Update 2014: Construction of a singletrack mountain bike trail system officially began in June 2014 (actually some was built in 2013) as a cooperative effort between the Kenosha County Parks and the Kenosha Off-Road Bicycle Association (KORBA). The new mountain bike trail system was designed by Willie Bittner of Great Lakes Trailbuilders.

Update spring 2017: As of April 2017 we have over 7 miles of singletrack and are still building.

I show the trails in purple on the map.

Mountain bike trail conditions are available at Kenosha Off-Road Bicycle Association (KORBA) and via the Trail Hotline at (262) 857-1876 . Please do not ride when trails are closed or muddy.

The mountain bike trails have names now, so I'll go ahead and use those to describe the various sections. They are also designed as directional trails so note the arrows on the map. Tike-onderoga and Snowflake are the easiest trails, Outbound, The Pines, and Rudies Run are a little more difficult but still rather easy, and Barbed Wire/Little Wing/High Line are the more difficult trails.

  • Outbound begins at the treeline just east of parking lot #4. It consists of a fun little winding trail that runs from parking lot #4 to parking lot #3, and also has a fork in the trail around the mid point that winds northwest and links up with the wide trail (Yellow on map). This trail has had plenty of use and is in very good condition. The trail from parking lot #4 to parking lot #3 is a little over a half-mile in length.
  • Tike-onderoga is the very small loop between the soccer fields just north of parking lot #3. It's set up as a small easy trail for kids to play on. The idea behind locating it by the soccer fields was to allow parents to watch one kid play soccer and still monitor another on the bike trail.
  • The Pines is located in the Northeast corner of the park. To access it, ride the main wide trail north from parking lot #3 and watch for the narrow trail on the right after you pass the soccer fields. It will loop around and bring you back to the main trail. This is a fun winding singletrack trail through the pines. This trail has had plenty of use and is in very good condition. About a half mile in length.
  • Snowflake in the large area north of the creek. It can be accessed by riding north on the main wide trail (Yellow) from parking lot #3 and looking for a trail on the left, directly across from exit from "The Pines". Or, if you ride "The Pines" just cross the wide trail and continue on to Snowflake. The surface of this trail is still a bit rough but has improved quite a bit recently, I'd expect it to be in very good shape by mid-spring 2015. The trail is a mix of flat to gently rolling terrain, and is the easiest loop in the system. Snowflake is a little over a mile in length. Snowflake can be muddy in the spring or after heavy (flooding) rains.
  • Yeti This is sort of an extension off the end of Snowflake that adds about another 3/4 mile and brings you to the wide trail where you can get back to the trailhead or connect to other trails. It can be accessed at the entrance/exit to Snowflake. This is an easy trail with rolling terrain. It's still pretty new, but it looks to have fewer mud issues than Snowflake. You don't have to ride Snowflake to get to Yeti, this can be useful when Snowflake is muddy.
Silver Lake Barbed Wire Mountain Bike Trail - November 2014
  • Barbed Wire / Little Wing / High Line are the more advanced trails and is really one trail with named sections. With steep climbs and flowy downhills, this is a premium mountain biking trail (the video on the right shows the trail as it existed in late 2014, there is additional trail now). You'll find several large natural berms and other features that will make you want to come back around and ride this loop again and again. It's certainly more advanced than the other trails, but nothing the typical intermediate rider or even some more adventurous beginners should be afraid to try. Barbed Wire is named for a rather large ball of barbed wire that was found when building it. It's located northwest of parking lot #4 and can be accessed by taking the main wide trail by the maintenance building and looking for a trail on your left or using the Outbound trailhead and going straight at the first fork in the trail. Barbed Wire is about 0.8 miles in length, and after it crosses the wide trail at the bottom of the hill, the name of the singletrack now changes to Little Wing. Little Wing is about 1.2 miles in length, but near the end of Little Wing is an intersection that provides access to High Line. High Line is an optional side loop that is about 0.7 miles in length and returns you back to this intersection to continue on to the end of Little Wing, which ends at the wide trail. There is new trail being added across the wide trail. The new trail can be ridden, but it currently dead ends so you'll need to ride back up the trail or you can optionally bushwack out as some points.

The advanced trail(s) totals around 3 miles currently, but there is a lot packed into that mileage. There's not much flat trail in here, you're pretty much always going up or down. This trail will be continue to be extended in 2015, so expect regular changes. As new trail is added, it can be ridden, but you may have to double back to get out.

  • Rudie's Run This is sort of an extension of the more difficult trails but isn't as difficult as those so I'm listing it separately. Accessed from the wide multi-use trai across from the end of Little Wing, just east of the overlook, Rudie's run is open and flowy, and runs mostly downhill (though very gradually). There are a couple of optional features that are a little challenging, but the main trail is rather easy. About two thirds of the way you'll see a side trail on the right that goes to the park road. This can be used as an exit to the park road, but also provides access to new trail being built across the road. Rudie's Run is about a half mile in length.
  • KD Line Connector This is new as of late 2016 and is still currently under construction but can be ridden. KD Line trail runs from a connector from Rudie's Run, then over the gravel pit and all the way to parking lot #3. There are two paths through the gravel pit, one high trail that runs along the ridge and a lower trail that traverses the face of the gravel pit (mid way up). The lower trail is best ridden south to north, the upper can be ridden either direction. The remaining connector trail is easy to intermediate and can be ridden either direction. Following the trail in the gravel pit area can be a little confusing since there are quite a few bits of old singletrack in that area, and the trails on the gravel areas are not as obvious as dirt trails in the woods. For first-time riders, probably best to start near parking lots 1, 2 or 3, and head towards the gravel pit. That way you'll know where the trail connects into the gravel pit area. There are many ways out of the gravel pit, so even if you don't end up the the trail you intended, you should find a way out. KD-Line is a little over a mile long from end to end.

The old narrow trail (shown RED) that comes off the service road in the Northwest portion of the park is going to be closed. It still exists for now so I want to keep it on the map, but it will be getting blocked off to avoid confusion on the new mountain bike trails. Hikers that have used this old trail in the past, can hike the mountain bike trails instead (look at the map and you can see there are several sections of trail you could use in place of the old trail)

Silver Lake Winter Mountain Biking - The More Difficult Trails


Fat Bike Grooming / Winter Mountain Biking:

Winter mountain biking (and especially fat biking) have become a big deal at Silver Lake, with a growing number of regular riders at the park.

During the winter of 2013/2014 grooming for Fat Bikes was started on the wide trails (Yellow on Map)using the old cross-country ski grooming equipment. During the 2014/2015 winter they have been machine grooming the wide trails and connectors in some of the open areas, and some of the singletrack (mainly Snowflake). The winter of 2015/2016 began with new grooming equipment (a New Rokon) and a lot more riders with fat bikes. Not everything gets groomed, but unless the snow is really deep, the trails that aren't groomed will get packed pretty well by riders within a few days of snowfall. Exactly what gets groomed varies based on conditions, but Snowflake, Yeti, Rudie's Run, and The Pines are the most likely to see grooming. I was happy to see more riders this winter riding the more difficult trails. They can be tricky in spots, but under the right conditions can be a lot of fun, especially when other riders pack them in for you. The video on the right shows a late-season ride on the advanced trails.

In mid to late winter you may even see grooming on the lake. Grooming is being conducted by volunteers through Kenosha Off-Road Bicycle Association (KORBA)

Some park roads and parking areas may be closed during the winter. They've been mainly closing the horseshoe-shaped road that runs from parking lot #1 to parking lot #3. So from the park entrance, you can either go right to get to parking lot #1 by the sledding hill, or go left to get to the beach area and parking lots #4 and #5. You can access the trails from any of these areas.

Hiking

Even though the area is somewhat hilly, the hiking here is pretty easy due to the wide well-maintained trails (the main trails shown in Yellow). With a mix of woodlands, pines, open grassy areas, plus the old gravel pit and, of course, Silver Lake, this is a rather scenic little hike. There is also a nice overlook along the trail just south of parking area #5, and another above the beach area.

I nice hiking option is to start at the beach area, then go east/southeast across the grassy area to catch the with trail that runs parallel to the park road. Cross the park road near the par entrance and when the trail forks, take the left fork that heads toward parking lot #5. You catch an overlook just before parking lot #5. From Parking lot #5 you'll need to hike across the park road and a grassy area towards the maintenance building where you will pick up the main trail again. Follow that around counterclockwise all the way back to the Beach. There will be another overlook about halfway (right above the beach) were you can optional take a shortcut and follow one of the mowed paths down the hill directly to the beach area.

There is a short "Native American Interpretive Trail" (added in 2104) just off of the main trail behind the overlook above the main beach area. I show it as a solid Orange trail on the map. It has signs providing information on the Potawatomi tribe. The quickest way to get to the interpretive trail would be from the main beach parking lot. You can either take the maintenance road to the main trail, then the main trail to the interpretive trail, OR they have been mowing a path that runs up the hill from the park road to the overlook, so you can just hike directly up the hill on the grass to get to the overlook and interpretive trail.

The RED trails on the map also get used by hikers, but they are unmaintained and some of them can be rather hard to follow, especially after the autumn leaves have fallen. If you've previously used the old narrow hiking trails located north and northwest of the service road, be aware that there are quite a few changes in this area due to the new mountain bike trails so don't expect to be able to find some of those old trails.

If hiking the mountain bike trails, it's usually best to hike against the direction of bike traffic (opposite of the arrows on the map). See mountain biking for more details on the mountain bike trails.

Cross country skiing:

XC Skiing Silver Lake Trails and Sledding Hill

Though not a lot of miles here, the wide trails (Yellow on map) combined with the hilly terrain make for some pretty good cross country ski trails. The biggest annoyance is the frequent road crossings (park roads). There are some winding downhills here that can be challenging; I think the trickiest one is probably the one a little north of parking area #4. When you get to the big open area west of parking area #3, there is plenty of room to do some additional skiing here. There is a large open hill area (used for sledding) that can be a good place to work on your downhill skills or just play around (video on right shows me skiing on the sledding hill, including a crash).

The cross country ski trails are not groomed for skiing, however starting in 2013/2014 the Kenosha Off-Road Bicycle Association (KORBA) started doing some grooming here on the wide trails to ride "Fat Bikes" during the winter. The video on the right shows me skiing on the trails groomed for biking. This isn't what you would typically find on trails groomed for skiing, but it should be ski-able depending on conditions. It looked like they just ran a 3 or 4-foot wide roller on it to pack it down. They're still experimenting a bit on how they are grooming, so the grooming you see in the video may not be what they do in the future.

Most of the narrow mountain bike trails (Purple on map) will probably not be great for XC skiing, but Snowflake may be worth a try (it is flat to gently rolling)depending on conditions. However, when I was there Snowflake had been ridden in by Fat Bikes resulting in a rather narrow trough running down the center of the trail. That did not make for good skiing.

Some park roads and parking areas may be closed during the winter. They've been mainly closing the horseshoe-shaped road that runs from parking lot #1 to parking lot #3. So from the park entrance, you can either go right to get to parking lot #1 by the sledding hill, or go left to get to the beach area and parking lots #4 and #5. You can access the trails from any of these areas.

Fox River County Park is located only a couple miles away from Silver Lake and also provides some trails suitable for cross country skiing. Skiing both parks will give you the equivalent ski experience of a larger trail system.


Ice House Trail

The Ice House Trail is a new paved multi-use path that connects the western portion of the park (near the beach) with Highway B at Lotus Drive. I show it Black on the map.


Links

Related Pages:

External Links:


This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki