a nice quiet campground north of Milwaukee. Limited sites so book early. Dog friendly.
This is a amazing place to go!!! They have lake swimming,dog swimming area,many trails and tons of wildlife. Sites are pretty secluded too if u get the right one.Best yet!
Mid to Late October is great Fall camping in Southern Wisconsin. Cool nights range from lower 30's to upper 40's. Day time temps can exceed 60.
Pike Lake State Park is part of the northern Kettle Moraine glacial deposit. This park offers fantastic hiking for many skill levels.
Overnight camping has standard primitive sites (all wooded sites) scattered around single paved campground loop. Sites at beginning of loop are on hillside with leved pads for your tent. Sites at bottom of loop (near bathrooms) are flatter. However sites at bottom are closer together, than at the top.
Pike Lake also has 3 (relatively new) hike in sites. I believe at least 1 of the hike in sites is non-reservable. All 3 sites have trail access from a parking lot (about 3/4 mile north from standard camp ground).
This campground is our go to during the school year. Practically walking distance to our house, this campground is generally nice. Wooded lots make you feel overall secluded. I tend to book sites close to the bathrooms (young kids). However sites on the top of the loop are nice too. When the kids stay home, the hike in sites are very nice.
Biggest disadvantage is the campground proximity to the rest of the park. One of the biggest draws to the park is the lake / beach. The camping is on the opposite side of the park to the beach. Certainly not a deal breaker, but when you have little ones, you just have to plan accordingly.
For my five-year-old son's first backpacking experience, we hiked about 3 miles on the Ice Age Trail, into Pike Lake campground (in the Kettle Moraine North State Park). We camping on one of the backpacking sites right off the trail.
Our campsite was very large, fully shaded, and included a picnic table and a fire ring. There was also a port-a-potty nearby, central to the three backpacking sites. The site was really nice, and the fireflies were very active at dusk.
Within Pike Lake there are many hiking trails of varying lengths, and all are very well maintained. They are even updating the path of the trails to help stop erosion on the hills, which is impressive if you are interested in conservation and natural resource management. There is also a lookout tower that offers stunning views of the surrounding area.
The lake was beautiful and the beach area is very nice and clean. There are many picnic tables and a playground. We would have loved to swim on our last day, but it was a bit cool (not even 70 degrees F) and very breezy. My son determined that we should hike back, but he did get to play in the sand a little bit.
Before testing OOFOS, I was not really a sandals person. Now I wear them more than I ever had before. OOFOS are made of a single molded piece of high density closed-cell foam. The shape of them offer excellent arch support, very cushioned overall foot support, and forces the wearer to take most of the pressure off of the heels. They are waterproof and very durable.
After our hike into our campsite, I wore my OOFOS and even hiked in them a little bit. They are excellent after hikes and runs, or after a long day on your feet.
My wife is very much a "sandals person" and she appreciated the cushion and the support she got while she was pregnant. OOFOS helped ease some of the pressure on her back. Now that we have our newborn, she still wears them daily. OOFOS has been her primary shoe for the last couple months and she loves them.
I whole-heartedly recommend them to anyone. Friends and family who know that I wasn't a sandals person before noticed the OOFOS and I share my love of these sandals. 100% Ranger-worthy and 100% recommended. The extra cost over cheap sandals is totally worth it.
We live in the North Shore area of Milwaukee and were contemplating what to do with our weekend prior to the 4th of July. We knew we didn't want to stray too far from home, especially since we were camp-breaking our dog and wanted the option to bail in case she wasn't enjoying camping as much as we do. North Kettle Moraine, Pike Lake Unit was an easy choice given it's proximity to the city- about 40 minutes. We'd already camped earlier this season at the southern unit near Whitewater and had a great experience there, so we were looking forward to this trip.
The last trip we did, we had a hike-in of about 400 feet and decided we wanted something a little more than that and the remote sites at Pike Lake were at least 2000 feet, so we booked a site through the State website. Once you get on I-41 there is literally only 3 left turns and you are at the site, and only about a 7 minute drive from the freeway.
Pike Lake offers three remote sites as well as plentiful regular campsites for those that are less-inclined to hoof it. The trails are well-marked and best yet the iconic Ice Age Trail runs right through all three campsites for the most convenient hiking access. While you may see some other hikers on the trail from your site, this seems to be a less-frequented part of the trail so the foot traffic is light.
We arrived late on our check-in date and were faced with a closed park office leaving us to fill out and pay for our own park admissions and parking. We had two cars but decided we both wanted the yearly passes since it was only $4 more than what we would have paid for a daily pass. Since it was late we couldn't get our camping passes and would have to return to the office the next morning. we also had to pay a bit extra since we didn't have the exact amount of cash. It was a pleasant surprise the next morning when we were greeted by the park Ranger (sorry, I cannot remember his name) who brought us our camping pass as well as our parking stickers and refund for what we overpaid, plus more. We didn't know that the passes were BOGO 1/2 off. A big kudos to the staff there for keeping honest.
As for the pros/cons of the site/park:
- Parking is close to Highway 60 if you need to come and go
- Spacious and well-manicured plot
- Nearby port-a-potty
- Equal parts sunny and shaded for a good balance on hot days
- Ample parking spots for load-in
- Good pitch for drainage if it rains (which it did)
- Cabelas located about 15 minutes away in case you forgot any essential camping item.
- Many amenities including: dog beach, kayak launch, fishing pier, general campground, observation tower.
- Proximity to highway means more noise
- Also close to Slinger Speedway, which on Sundays on the weekend can be loud with the races and they can run kinda late (about 10PM)
- Bring your own TP (which shouldn't be an issue for those experienced backcountry campers)
- All three remote sites are pretty close to one another.
A last minute decision to camp for a night led my son and I to the often visited Pike Lake unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Its a beautiful park and within 30 minutes of our home. We picked on of the three backpacking sites that are along the Ice Age Trail and away from the other traditional sites close to the lake. There are many trails, a observation tower with a view of Holy Hill and Pike Lake, and of course the Ice Age Scenic Trail.
This campground is about 20 minutes from our home and provides a quick getaway when needed. Less than 30 campsites so it is small and private. Sites are heavily wooded and some offer a bit of privacy. No showers here but we never stay long enough to truly need them. Trails are nice but a lot of the miles are in open prairie instead of forest. Lake is nice but there is no launch from within the park…only beach access. Launch your boat across the lake at the private bar. Campground is close to medical facilities if needed. Unfortunately I know this from experience. My 5 year old hooked me in the leg while fishing on Pike Lake and a trip to the ER was needed along with a tetanus shot.