Be a Trail Blazer

Glide on These Wisconsin Cross-Country Ski Trails
By Elle Duncombe-Mills and Caroline Szachnowski | Photos courtesy Travel Wisconsin

Looking to hit the cross-country ski trails this winter? Wisconsin’s got a wealth of trails around the state. Here are 10 of them to get started on!

Around Madison

If you’re staying local, Renee Calloway, publicist of the Madison Nordic Ski Club—MadNorSki for short—has some faves.

Elver Park: Skiers will find trails at all levels here, plus MadNorSki makes snow on one small, popular loop if there’s a shortage.

Several golf courses in town open their links to skiers, including Odana Hills and University Ridge. Odana is great for beginners, according to the Madison Parks Division. Calloway says University Ridge offers beginner to advanced trails, as well as impeccable indoor facilities.

Lake Farm Park: Calloway says this park on picturesque Lake Waubesa offers beginning and intermediate routes to cut your teeth on.

Lake Kegonsa State Park: Beginner and intermediate skiers can glide for 5 miles on trails in this Stoughton park.

Farther Afield

The Birkie Trail, Cable: As one of the largest—and longest—cross-country ski races in North America, chances are you’ve heard of the American Birkebeiner. But did you know that this often-difficult trail is open to the public? Lisa Marshall from Travel Wisconsin says it’s one of her top picks.

Nine Mile Forest 6K Trail, Wausau:  This trail through can be pretty challenging, but it’s vast and beautiful, Marshall says. You may even recognize the scenery: this trail is home to the cross-country ski races of Wisconsin’s very own Badger State Games.

Big Bay State Park Trails, La Pointe: Discover true serenity with these island-set trails, perfect for beginners and experts alike. Though the trails boast easy skiing, a sense of adventure is undeniable with breathtaking views of Lake Superior and the snow-frosted Apostle Islands. If you peer beyond the vast inland sea you may even catch a glimpse Michigan’s western shore!

Mississippi Ridge Trail, Bagley:  Marshall says this little trail packs a punch: with minimal rise and fall in elevation, you’ll be stunned by the views of the Mississippi River and beyond that filter through to the forest-based path.

Cam-Rock Park Area 2 Trail, Cambridge: This picturesque trail isn’t far from Madison. It’s a bit more difficult so it’s better to be at least an intermediate Nordic skier. It’s positioned between two charming small towns, so you’ll also be skiing toward a destination!

Winter Wonder Land Trail, Spring Green: Take it easy on this trail with stunning views of the Wisconsin River valley and gently rolling terrain—perfect for beginners. If you’re hankering for a challenge, the adjacent ridge trails provide more irregular landscapes.

Other Trails to Consider:
  • John Muir Orange Trail and Nordic Orange Trail, La Grange
  • Kettle Moraine Lapham Peak Meadow Trail, Delafield
  • Iola Norseman Black Trail, Iola
  • Red Cedar State Trail South, Downsville
  • Old World Wisconsin – Blue Trail, Eagle
  • Doe Chase Trail, Sparta
  • Ledge Walk Trail, Chilton
  • Calumet Park Effigy Mounds Trail, Hilbert
  • Potawatomi State Park – Black Trail, Sturgeon Bay
  • Mcmiller Blue Trail, Little Prairie
  • Zillmer Yellow Trail, Dundee
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