WI Kettle Moraine North Zillmer Trails
Zillmer Trails - Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit
The Zillmer Trail System is located in the Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and offers about ten miles of trails suitable for cross-country skiing and hiking.
- Terrain / Scenery: Mix of prairie and woodlands. Mainly flat to gently rolling with a few large hills.
- Fees / Permits: A Wisconsin Park Sticker and Trail Pass are required for parking in the park and skiing or biking on the trails.
- Trail Conditions: You can call the Forest Headquarters during normal business hours at (262) 626-2116 (this is not a trail conditions hotline). In addition you can post or view trail reports on this site by clicking the Discussion tab
- Trail Markings: Color coded trails with maps at key intersections.
- Facilities: Pit toilets, Backpacking shelter on trail.
- Official Web Page: http://www.dnr.state.wi.us/org/land/parks/specific/kmn/trails.html Downloadable map is available.
- Getting There: The Zillmer Trailhead is located near the town of Campbellsport on County Road SS a couple miles southeast of highway 67. From Milwaukee, take Highway 45 North past the town of Kewaskum, then go right on Highway 67 and right again on SS.
Cross-Country Skiing: The Zillmer Trails offer about ten miles of trails that are groomed for both classic and skate skiing by the State Forest. These trails are a bit difficult to classify since the vast majority of the trail miles would be considered easy while there is one section of the Yellow Trail that is very difficult.
At 5.4 miles, the Yellow Trail is by far the longest trail in this system. While most of the Yellow trail is relatively flat to gently rolling easy skiing, the section that runs from the far north point of the trail, southwest to the connection with the Red Trail, has some very fast scary winding downhill sections. For those that like a thrilling downhill, you won't want to miss this section (although I would avoid it in icy conditions). Unfortunately, the rest of the Yellow Trail as well as the other trails in this system are probably going to bore you. If, on the other hand, you are a beginner skier and are looking for some easy ski miles you need to avoid the entire northern section of the Yellow trail (by using the Red Trail) in order to bypass the difficult hill section.
The Brown Trail and Green Trail are both very easy skiing. The Red Trail is mostly easy, though there is a nice winding downhill on the return section back to connect with the Green trail that may challenge some beginners.
Overall, I think this trail system could benefit greatly by some redesigning. A separate trail bypass on the Yellow trail to allow beginners to avoid the difficult hills and a few more miles of new trail through the hilly sections for intermediate skiers would make this a much better trail system. This isn't to say that this is a bad system, only that it has potential to be a lot better. For now, beginner skiers can take the Green and Red trails to connect with Yellow on the far side of the trail system and then take the remaining section of Yellow back towards the trailhead to get a few more miles of easy skiing. Intermediate or better skiers can take the first half of Yellow and then return on the Red Trail to catch the most hills in the least amount of miles. To be honest, intermediate skiers will have a much better time doing most of their skiing at the nearby Greenbush Trail system which offers many more hills and better grooming, and occasionally hitting Zillmer when the snow conditions are good for a little variety and a quick thrill.
Hiking: The mix of woodlands and prairie make this a nice trail system for a hike. The hilly section that may be challenging for skiers shouldn't be a problem for hikers. There is a backpacking shelter in the middle of this trail system that seems a bit out of place since this trail system doesn't have enough miles to justify backpacking. It would make more sense if it were located on the nearby Ice Age Trail or if there were a connector from the ice age trail to this system (maybe there is one, but I didn't notice it).
Mountain Biking: Mountain biking is not allowed on the Zillmer Trails. You can mountain bike at the nearby Greenbush Trail system
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This page is authored and maintained by Dave Piasecki