The Backpacker’s Guide to the Whitewater, WI Trail Galaxy

October 20, 2022

As an Ice Age Trail community snuggled up next to the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Whitewater, WI provides gorgeous trails ranging from easy to challenging and plenty of hot spots for a winded hiker to rest, refuel, and grab any gear you might need. From backpacking tips to trail info, we have you covered for your backpacking trip around and through Whitewater.

Before getting started, check out these backpacking tips to make your hike easeful!

Download Whitewater's hiking guide to have on you always.


Ice Age Trail - Blue Spring Lake Segment

This moderate 7.1mi point-to-point segment features rolling hills and a panoramic view from the top of Bald Bluff Overlook (1,050 feet above sea level). The Stone Elephant - a massive granite erratic - is a beloved landmark on the trail. This trail provides outstanding examples of glacial moraines, eskers, kettles, and erratics. When the leaves have fallen, hikers can enjoy beautiful views of the surrounding landscape. Bringing your pup? Please keep them on a leash no longer than 8ft.

Backpacking Pro Tip: Reserve camping at Horseriders’ Campground. You can collect water from small ponds and springs near the segment.

Ice Age Trail - Blackhawk Segment

This 7mi point-to-point segment highlights scenic Lake La Grange, the historic Oleson Cabin, and one of several popular backpacking shelters. Bring your binoculars and enjoy birding as the trail winds through marshes, prairies, and dense forests. Bringing your pup? Please keep them on a leash no longer than 8ft.

Backpacking Pro Tip: Reserve camping at Shelter #3 (reservation required). Be aware, it’s a steep climb to get there, but it’s worth it. Collect water from Lake La Grange. Hungry? Check out Avant Cycle Cafe off of Kettle Moraine Scenic Drive about 1mi from Shelter #3.

Ice Age Trail - Whitewater Lake Segment

This challenging 4.6mi point-to-point segment features wooded moraines, kettles, rocky hills, and outstanding views of Rice and Whitewater lakes. It’s quite the hidden gem and often takes hikers’ breath away. Bringing your pup? Please keep them on a leash no longer than 8ft.

Backpacking Pro Tip: Reserve camping at Whitewater Lake Campground (immediately off the trail), Hickory Woods Group Camp, or Scenic Ridge Campground (accessible by road). Whitewater Lake offers a public beach and marina for renting motor boats, canoes, or kayaks and purchasing snacks, quick bites, and drinks.

Ice Age Trail - Clover Valley Segment

This easy 1.6mi segment crosses the Clover Valley State Wildlife Area and features wet meadow habitat and Spring Brook. As a result, you’ll experience the magic of walking across numerous bridges and boardwalks built to protect this fragile environment. Bringing your pup? Please keep them on a leash no longer than 8ft.

Backpacking Pro Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for the marked dispersed camping area if you're up for spending a night under the stars. This is a first come, first serve “site”. Leave no trace.

You can collect water from the brook.



But how do I drink from lakes, brooks, and streams?

Filter water with one of these highly trusted filtration systems for hikers:

  1. Sawyer Squeeze – ($39) Removes 99.99999% of all bacteria. Useful for hikers traveling in pairs or small groups.
  2. LifeStraw – ($20) Also removes 99.99999% of all bacteria, but is lighter and cheaper. Perfect for the minimalist hiker.



📸: The Cafe by the Sweet Spot

Once in Whitewater, check out our Hiker’s Guide for all the favorite places to nosh, get caffeinated, and have a craft brew.


Gear Up

Hiking the Trail

Dale’s Bootery– This beloved “sit and fit shoe store” is a must visit if you’re looking for new hiking boots or shoes, socks, or even shoelaces!

BicycleWise & Sports Fitness– Big fans of outdoor rec, the Sotherlands offer quality gear. Check out their Superfeet footbeds, hiking poles, water bottles, and socks.

The Book Teller– Gently used books, leather journals, local handcrafted soaps and lotions, and other beautiful wares by area artisans. Not gear for hiking but definitely gear for the soul.



Ready to shower and feel spoiled?

Need to have tough knots worked out? Treat yourself to a massage or reiki! Make an appointment at one of six massage therapists & reiki specialists in Whitewater. Your body deserves it.

Crash at Hamilton House B&B, Victoria on Main B&B, Fairfield Inn & Suites, or Baymont Inn & Suites.

Happy trails to you and enjoy your time in and around Whitewater!


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