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Rider: Greg Heil

Ride the Kettle Moraine—Best Singletrack in Southern WI

Get out of Chicago, Milwaukee, or Madison and head deep into the forest of the Kettle Moraine!

Mountain Biking Moderate

Rider: Greg Heil
Rider: Greg Heil Photo: Greg Heil


Hidden beneath the endless canopy of the Kettle Moraine State Forest’s southern unit is an expansive network of singletrack. These interconnected trails stretch in all directions, rolling up and down the small hills and twisting through the dense forest. Local mountain bikers in the know all agree that this network of trails offers the best singletrack riding in southern Wisconsin!

If you zoom the lens out from Kettle Moraine, it takes a long time before you find a better place to mountain bike. Consequently, the trail system here draws riders from all over southern Wisconsin and northern Illinois, including luring riders from the massive population centers of Chicago, Milwaukee, and Madison. As you can imagine, these trails are exceedingly popular and can get quite crowded, especially on the weekends.

Thankfully, there’s plenty of mileage to spread people out. Depending on how you count it, there’s as much as 130 miles of trail to explore in the forest, according to RootsRated.com. Not all of these trails are popular with mountain bikers, meaning that in reality the system doesn’t feel quite that big, but variety is never a bad thing!

In this guidebook, you’ll find just three of the top rides in this popular trail system. The John Muir Loop maximizes the mileage on the southern end of the network, without backtracking much. A plethora of cross trails in the John Muir area means that there’s no end of route combinations just on this end of the trail system.

Similarly, the Emma Carlin Green Loop is a top loop recommendation on the northern end of the trail system, but more loops exist up there, too.

Finally, if you are looking for a long day in the woods, the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit Big Loop provides almost 29 miles of pedaling that’s 100% on singletrack and that rarely doubles back on itself!

Sources: https://rootsrated.com/chicago-il/mountain-biking/kettle-moraine-state-forest-southern-unit-mountain-biking https://www.travelwisconsin.com/mountain-biking/john-muir-trails-204374 https://www.backyardbikes.com/articles/routes-maps-pg181.htm

Routes included

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