Camping and Hiking Whitewater Lake

The Kettle Moraine South Unit is one of our favorite natural areas to visit – it’s spread across Southeast Wisconsin as a mix of private and public lands. My two youngest sons and I headed up this past weekend for a little reconnoitering and new experiences in a section we’d never visited, Whitewater Lake.

Camping and Hiking Whitewater Lake

Whitewater Lake consists of a campground, several lakes, a small swimming beach, and trails to hike, including a section of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail. I was a bit apprehensive, as Summer is a busy time, with crowded campgrounds and roads, though I’ve never seen crowded trails. We lucked out and must have hit the last quiet weekend of the season.

After checking in and getting  a campsite – supposedly only a few were left, but it seemed about half full, so either people didn’t show up after paying or the person at the office didn’t know what she was taking about. Whitewater Lake Campground is a more rustic site, with pit toilets and no shower facilities. Th campground also includes a few hike-in sites, ranging from near the road to several hundred yards in.

On to the beach! Whitewater Lake is relatively large, with private houses surrounding most of it, though there is a public beach and boat ramp where we visited, Not too crowded and we discovered why – the water was still really cold. After standing in it, one could get used to it, but once the boys duked themselves, they were ready to go.

Between Whitewater Lake and the campground lies smaller Rice Lake. This has a nature trail, boat ramp, and, most importantly, a playground, so we spent some time there burning off excess energy. This was also a preview for National Trails Day – Rice Lake is the meeting point for some kids’ activities, which we are planning on attending in a few weeks.

After a camp food dinner, we had the urge to explore, so into the car we went, through the town of Whitewater and on to Fort Atkinson. This is a beautiful little town on the Rock River, boasting 2 very important attractions: a Frostie Freeze and a decommissioned tank, both of which afforded us great pleasure.

Sleep was the 3 of using the back of our Xterra – we’d done 2 a few weeks ago and it worked out great. Three, however, was a bit too much and it took some maneuvering before everyone found a way to lie comfortably. Don’t think we’ll be doing that again, haha.

Camping and Hiking Whitewater Lake

We’ve made it a tradition to go out to breakfast when camping, because it’s a fun way to see part of the locals’ life and also a break from the more labor-intensive camp cooking. Fueled up, we returned to the campground, got everything squared away, and headed out for a hike on the Ice Age Trail. This section affords a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns, and a variety of trail surfaces. An early steep section took us near the tops of the trees, where we got a beautiful view over the area, including Whitewater and Rice Lakes.

So glad we got this weekend together in a new place that was fun to explore, both the natural and the local towns as well. It will be fun to return in a few weeks and show the rest of the family what we found.


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