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About Ottawa Lake - Kettle Moraine State Forest
Ottawa Lake’s campground is located in the southern unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest, situated within half an hour’s drive from Milwaukee. Wisconsin campers of all ages love these grounds thanks to lakefront sites, modern facilities, and access to trails for hikers of every experience level. South Kettle Moraine is also home to over 160 miles of trails, including 87 miles open to horse use. Connect to the Ice Age Scenic Trail and various others within the John Muir and Emma Carlin trail systems. Don’t forget to bring your rods when camping at Ottawa Lake! You’ll want to take full advantage of the boat dock and fishing pier where you can catch panfish, walleye, muskie, trout, bass, and northern pike – then you can grill them up at your campsite. Keep in mind, motorboats are not permitted on this small lake, which allows for peaceful wading and quieter camping all around. Though Ottawa Lake is open year-round, it is recommended to check the weather in Dousman and Whitewater before planning trips in the colder months, as freezing temperatures and snow are common. Cold-weather campers who are willing to brave the Wisconsin winter will enjoy snowmobile trails, ice fishing, snowshoeing, and cross-country skiing. No matter when you visit, Ottawa Lake will leave you satisfied.
Access
Drive In, Walk In, Hike In
Operator
State
Features
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ADA Accessible
Alcohol Allowed
Drinking Water
Electric Hookups
Fires Allowed
Firewood Available
Market
Pets Allowed
Phone Service
Picnic Table
Reservable
Sanitary Dump
Showers
Toilets
Trash Available
Location
Ottawa Lake - Kettle Moraine State Forest is located in Wisconsin
Latitude
42.939 N
Longitude
-88.478 W
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13 Reviews of Ottawa Lake - Kettle Moraine State Forest
Beautiful view, very secluded

We stayed in site 334; absolutely gorgeous space. Very nearby and convenient pit toilet, well maintained fire ring, nice sandy spots for tents and a beautiful view of the marsh. It was a bit if a bike from the parking area, so keep your packing to a minimum or bring a heavy duty cart to pack it all in and out. We had to bug out a day early because of some weather, but will definitely try to book this site again

Close to Kettle Moraine bike trails

We've stayed here twice. Nice, clean, well-run campground with some electric sites and several bathroom/shower buildings if needed. Nice little lake to swim or paddle on. 20 minute drive to the awesome Kettle Moraine biking trails. Yee haw!

Ranger Review: Primus Essential Stove at Ottawa Lake

Campground Review

I've been to Ottawa Lake many times before, and really appreciate the spaciousness of the sites. There are a great mix of options for campsite ranging from almost full sun on the natural Wisconsin prairie or nicely shaded woodsy campsites.

There are many options for hiking since this campground is part of Kettle Moraine State Park.

The beach is pretty large and swimming is excellent. They've been restoring part of the beach in the last few years and it is looking great. The population of sandhill cranes in this area seems to be growing, as we saw a few pairs of them while camping here as well.

Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, this time I got to test the Primus Essential Stove (1.3L).

I've got plenty of experience with camping and backpacking stoves, ranging from DIY beer can alcohol stoves up to Coleman Duel Fuel Powerhouse classic camp stove. 

What's great

  • The Essential Stove is suitable for backpacking or regular camping, and it includes the essentials: 2 pot, a pan, a pot holder, and the burner. Everything nests together in a nice little package.
  • The stove is plenty powerful and was able to get our coffee percolator boiling in only a couple minutes.
  • The details are nice: they put rubber/silicone feet on the bottom and on the pot holder, just adding a bit of finish to a functional set

What's not great

  • The way the hose folds into the stove when stored is a little awkward at first. After using it a few times, it's more natural and not a big deal, but this could be improved.
  • "With great power comes great responsibility…" It doesn't have a great "Low". In order to prevent our coffee from boiling out of the percolator, I tried to turn it down, but accidentally turned it off. There isn't a great simmer option…the low is not very low. 

The verdict

Overall, it is a nice kit and I will be lending it to some friends to an upcoming backpacking trip.

Multiple Stays at Ottawa

I would give Ottawa 5 stars but unless you jump on the lakeside campsites early, the 5-10 mike drive from your campsite to the lake can be a little annoying; obviously not at all the state park’s fault.

The Ottawa Lake campsites are clean and convenient. Each site comes with a fire pit and grate, a picnic table, and two spaces for parking. We love camping at Ottawa with our kids because it’s so family-friendly.

Ottawa Lake itself is very clean and a great spot for swimming. The lake has a very large space for wading. You can go out about 100 feet from shore and still be in only about 5-6‘ of water. Ottawa Lake is relatively small, so no motorcraft are allowed. It makes for peaceful swimming and fishing.

Great get away

Perfect for a couple days in the woods. Like most of Wisconsins' parks and forests, Ottawa lake is no different. Offers clean and quiet settings and facilities,. Close enough to metropolitan areas but not too close. All have feeling of being in the north woods with out the travel. Busiest days are after memorial day weekend and to labor day weekend.

Cold night, but a pleasant park

Made my first visit to Ottawa Lake on a mid-March weekend. The facilities were still under their winter setup (only vault toilet, no shower available, pay in an envelope). It was a very nice campsite that I stayed at. The grounds were quiet, however there were only a handful of people staying there at the time. The sites look to have enough space between the to make you feel a little more spread out and not sitting on top of each other. It got cold (cloudless late winter nights in Wisconsin can do that), but nothing you can’t prepare for. The proximity to the Ice Age Trail is a bonus, because it made for an easy activity without much fuss. Will visit again when warmer.

Beyond Clothing A9-U - Utility Mission Pant at Ottawa Lake, WI

Campground Review

Ottawa Lake is a campground that is so close to Milwaukee that I don't really go often enough. The campsite are nicely sized and sufficiently shady. The lake is great for swimming, though they do have e coli warnings frequently in the heat of summer. Hiking in the area is always nice, as it is part of the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit. I really have nothing bad to say about this campground, except that the cost of wood is too high.

 Product Review

As a Ranger for The Dyrt, I get products to test from time to time, this time I got to test the Beyond Clothing A9-U - Utility Mission Pant.

I'm not a military person, so I don't maybe have the background many of their target market has, but I do love to be outdoors, go backpacking, and hiking. These pants are made of a tough, heavy, ripstop nylon/cotton material. There are a plethora of pockets of various sizes. The waistband is adjustable with a heavy duty velcro, though I have noticed it doesn’t hold as well after a few washes. 

The knees have gussets for movement, but for me they were too low and only helped a little. There are also a couple different spots with velcro on the legs to tighten the pants if needed. 

These are really tough pants that will be able to take a ton of abuse. They are a bit warm, so they are best suited for cooler weather. 

These were the cheapest pants that Beyond Clothing offered, at $194. Personally, that's way too much for pants. The material quality is high, the design is just good, but the price is much too high. Unless you have money to burn, there are cheaper options out there for the same or better quality. For most people, these are way too expensive to be worth it, even though they are good pants.

Special Place in a Special State!!

If your in Wisconsin this is a must stay! Beautiful campground (Ottawa Lake campsites) Great Lake, hiking to see the natural springs which is the coolest!! Drank fresh spring water!

My Go-To Campsite for a Quick Weekend Away

Sometimes you don't have time to plan a long camping trip, or something special. In that situation, I choose Ottawa Lake for several reasons. First off, it's just about an hour from home so even if it's Friday morning and I decide to leave town, I can get there by sundown that day and still get some work done beforehand. Plus, I've been camping here since I was a kid. I know the amenity list by heart (see below). It's close to Scuppernong nature trail with springs bubbling out of the ground. For longer hikes, the Ice Age Trail is nearby as well. For bird watchers, it's a great place as all the water in the area brings a wide variety of birds. Even without leaving the Ottawa Lake area you might see cranes, wild turkeys and other fowl wandering across the highway and into the campground area.

Kids will find things to do on their own as well as with their parents which is great as well because sometimes you just want to quietly read a book in front of a fire but also want to take the kids with. Since I'm a new parent (my daughter will be three this year), this is a great bonus. A lot of the campers are there every year and so kids have opportunities to make friends that they will see year after year.

For a quick, get-out-of-Milwaukee-fast sort of camping trip, nothing beats Ottawa Lake in my mind and you can find me and my friends there regularly.

Amenities: Flush and vault toilets, showers, lake with swimming beach, kid's playground, water fountain (for drinking), electrical if needed, walk-in sites, sites with a view over the lake, volleyball, horseshoes, site host with firewood sales, and picnic areas. (As of fall 2016)

Ottawa Lake

Love this park. Nice little lake. Within 1/2 hour of Milwaukee. My favorite sites are the 2 walk to sites. I believe #334 and 335