I'm going to be hiking the ice age trail in the Northern unit, between shelter 1 and 2.

Do you think I would be fine to just pull off the trail and find a good spot to pitch a tent in an unofficial capacity? There seem to be only 5 official spots to camp along the route and they are all reserved.

Specifically, how would the rangers react? I know that some parks are more lax than others about camping at unofficial sites. (I know and practice leave no trace.)

There are more campsites but only 5 "backpacking" sites on the trail (dispersed canping) as opposed to pulling up the camper to a 12x12 plot of grass with neighbors.

See http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kmn/PDFs/kmnmap.pdf

  • 2
    Whether it would be OK or not depends on the terrain and how lightly you camp. It would certainly not be OK to build a campfire at your unofficial site, or to mash down vegetation.
    – ab2
    Apr 4, 2017 at 20:29
  • 1
    What do you mean when you say "fine?" Are you asking if you'll be harassed by park officials/rangers? Are you asking if the ecosystem can handle it? Are you asking about the specific policy of this state forest in regards to camping outside of established campgrounds? I suspect it is against the rules to camp outside of an established campground since their website says the forest has specific hours of operation. dnr.wi.gov/topic/parks/name/kmn
    – Erik
    Apr 4, 2017 at 21:08
  • 2
    Yes more asking about park rangers. I know and practice leave no trace. Just know some parks are more lax than others about this. Apr 4, 2017 at 21:22
  • 1
    I've edited your question to include all the additional information you gave in comments. I hope I haven't distorted your emphasis.
    – ab2
    Apr 5, 2017 at 0:26
  • 1
    The forest is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. - This seems to be a very American thing.
    – fgysin
    Apr 5, 2017 at 9:01

1 Answer 1


I grew up in that neck of the woods and have camped in the Kettle Moraine many times. The area you indicated gets very little use, as you go a little further North closer to Mauthe Lake and Long Lake it's much busier. Both of those lakes have large established and often full camping sites, with frequent pull-in type camping units. Ranger activity through the area you plan on is virtually nonexistent, just keep it quiet and you can camp overnight anywhere. During the summer months you may see other people but even then they would be few and far between. Starting a campfire may be pushing it though. But that stretch is really under utilized.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.