Wisconsin is a state made geographically famous by the last Ice Age.
Over 10,000 years ago the Wisconsin Glacier covered most of the state. When this glacier receded it left hills and valleys (called moraines and kettles) and other features that dominate the look of this beautiful state.
The rugged terrain left by the glaciers is a bounty for cross-country ski enthusiasts.
In fact, the most prestigious Nordic skiing ski race in the United States, The American Birkebeiner, is held each year in Hayward, Wisconsin.
There are four state forest parks that surround Milwaukee, Wisconsin named for the geographical feautures chiseled into the land by the glaciers. The four parks are collectively known as Kettle Moraine State Forest and there is a northern unit, a southern unit, Lapham Peak unit, and Pikes Lake unit. They all have incredible cross-country ski trails.
Lapham Peak may be the best as they even have lighted ski trails for night skiing and they even make their own snow on one trail in case Mother Nature does not cooperate.
As you travel north, the skiing only gets better!
The ski trails are not any better than at Kettle Moraine, but the farther north you get, the more beautiful scenery you get with more solitude on the trails. The farther north you go, the more dependable the ski conditions become.
In the center of the state, Mirror Lake State Park, Blue Mound State Park, and Black River State Forest both have fantastic trail systems. Devil's Lake and Governor Dodge State Park are also known for their ski trail systems.
The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) run the state parks, and they do a phenomenal job of keeping up with the trails in their state parks. They groom the trails as soon as snow hits and provide updates on their web page regarding conditions, and many parks have phone hot lines with instant information regarding ski conditions.
There is a charge to ski in the state parks, but they are well worth it. The cost runs about $4 per person to use the trails per day and $10.00 per car.
Wausau is a hotbed of cross-country ski trails in northern Wisconsin. You have nearby Minoqua Winter Park, Rib Lake Ski Trails, Pahlmquist Farm, and the Nine Mile County Forest just outside this northwoods city.
Have I already mentioned Hayward, Wisconsin as the home of the American Birkebeiner? In late February each year, over 10,000 cross-country skiers converge on this town to participate in the different races that make up the Birkebeiner. This more than doubles the population of the town.
Skiers can come anytime during the winter to ski the trails here. The main route is 54 kilometers, and one of the best cross-country ski trails I have ever been on.
For those that do not know much about Wisconsin, and are looking for a fun winter activity, cross-country skiing is the perfect choice. It is a healthy activity, fun, and not too difficult to learn.
Most of the trail systems mentioned in this article have a variety of trails fit for different skill levels from easy to most difficult. The ski symbols used in cross-country is actually the same for downhill.
Get to Wisconsin, get on some skis, and go this winter!
Travel tip shared by Traveling Ted