Need to pick up a winter activity to get you active and outside? No need to wait for summer to have fun – get out and enjoy the snow! Cross-country skiing is very popular in SE Wisconsin and our county of Waukesha has several groomed trails you can cross-county ski. This handy guide to cross-country skiing in Waukesha County will have everything you need to start (or keep) enjoying cross-country skiing. If you are interested in snowshoeing instead, we have a guide for that activity (which is a bit easier) as well.
Funny story, when I first tried cross-country skiing it was at Lapham Peak State park in Delafield. Being an avid snowboarder, I thought it would be super easy for me. It was not, in fact! However, I enjoyed it very much and liked the challenge and the opportunity to get outside and try something new with friends. Photo credit Waukesha County Parks.
In this guide, you will find:
Tips for Cross-Country Skiing
Here are our tips for Cross-Country skiing.
- Be prepared. Wear warm clothes and layer up. Bring your cell phone and a friend. The three essential pieces of equipment for cross-country skiing are skis (with bindings), ski boots, and ski poles.
- Follow the rules. Each park has various rules on hours and etiquette. See the image below for Winter Trails Etiquette from Waukesha County Parks.
- Try a lesson. It may be best to do a lesson with rentals to help you get started with this activity.
- Make it a family affair. There are different size skis for skiiers of all ages. We at Lake Country Family Fun always promote hobbies that involve the whole family.
- Chose your option. There is traditional cross-country skiing and skate skiing. Chose which option you want to do. Skate skiing may be easier if you already know how to ice skate or roller skate.
- Know how to get up from a fall. There are many tips out there about how to properly get up from a fall, but our advice is to get back up again!
Where to Cross-Country Ski in Waukesha County - 8 Groomed Trails
The Waukesha County Park System has over 16 miles of groomed cross-country ski trails. There are three (3) Waukesha County Parks with groomed trails for cross-country skiing. Each of the parks (Menomonee, Nashotah and Minooka) have entrance fees that apply ($6 for a car, $25 for a bus or $35 for a yearly pass – which we have and get so much use out of all year!)
Menomonee Park – Menomonee Falls (pictured above)
W220 N7884 Town Line Road, Menomonee Falls, WI 53051
Grooming: Classic and skate
There are three loops on gently rolling terrain. Parking at Picnic Area #1, Scuba Lot, and North Beach Lot. Find the winter trails map here.
Minooka Park – Waukesha (pictured above)
1927 E. Sunset Drive, Waukesha WI 53186
Grooming: Classic and Skate
There are three loops totaling 6 miles on gently rolling terrain. Parking at Beach Lot, Picnic Area #3 and Picnic Area #5. Find the Minooka Park winter trails map here.
Nashotah Park (pictured above)
W330n5113 County Road C Nashotah, WI 53058
Grooming: Classic & skate.
Multiple loop trail system. There are three loop trails that range in difficulty from novice to advanced. First is a 2.4 km trail that circles an open field and is suitable for novices. The second loop is an excellent 5.6 km intermediate-level. The third loop is a short (1.6 km), fun, and challenging trail through scenic woodlands. There are three gently rolling to hilly loops that total 6 miles. Parking at Picnic Areas #1 or #2. Find the Nashotah Park Winter Trails map here. There are also snowshoe trails at this park.
END OF THE WAUKESHA COUNTY CROSS-COUNTRY PARK LOCATIONS.
There are three (3) State Parks with groomed trails for cross-country skiing. Each of the parks (McMiller, Nordic and Lapham) have entrance fees that apply ($8 for a car for a day or $28 annual fee). A Wisconsin State Trail Pass is also required for those 16 and older (daily for $5 or annual for $25.)
McMiller Trails (pictured above)
S103W38754 County Road Nn Eagle, WI 53119
Grooming: Classic and skate/ multi trail system
The trails are groomed for classic and skate and are mostly intermediate-level. Although the Blue Loop is marked as Most Difficult, a solid intermediate-level skier should have no problems skiing it. Blue Loop is also a great trail to train . In total there is 17.6 km of trail but if you ski each loop independently there is 28.5 km of trail since most of the loops partially overlap. At this locaiton you can find parking, a warming building (heated), water, and pit toilets.
Nordic Trails (not pictured)
N9084 Co Rd H, Whitewater (just south of Waukesha County)
This trail, on County Highway H south of the Village of Palmyra, provides hiking and skiing for skate and classical stride cross-country skiers through a variety of vegetation, hardwoods, pine plantations, open meadows and kettle moraine terrain. There are six different trails of varying lengths and degrees of difficulty, providing great hiking or skiing for all levels of ability. A warming shelter is open every day and convenient parking, vault toilets and a sledding hill are also available at the trailhead. Hiking is not allowed when the trails are snow covered. Find the trail map here.
Lapham Peak Trails (pictured above)
W329 N846 County C Delafield, WI 53018
Grooming: Classic and skate
Lapham Peak is the most famous cross-country ski trail in Waukesha County and it is the only Wisconsin DNR property that has snow making abilities! At Lapham Peak they have snow cannons and starting in December, snow is made to guarantee that we have 3 months of snow. So, even if our backyards are bare, there’s snow at Lapham! There is lighted night skiing available on 4 km of trails Monday- Saturday 4 pm -10 pm. The following trails are suitable for novices: Man-made Snow (1.5k), Meadow Trail (3.2k), and the Kame Terrace Trail (3.2k). Both the intermediate-level Kettle View Trail (9.3k) and the advanced-level Moraine Ridge Trail (10.6k) are excellent trails to train for the Birkie.
END OF THE WISCONSIN STATE PARK CROSS-COUNTRY LOCATIONS.
There are two (2) parks in Brookfield, WI with double tracked ski trails. They are listed below and are free to use.
19900 River Road Brookfield WI 53005
The double tracked ski trails at Mitchell Park is excellent for the novice and intermediate skier and are groomed on a regular basis as weather and snow conditions permit. Trail maps are available at the Parks and Recreation office (City Hall). The park is located just south of Capitol Drive between Barker and Brookfield Roads with entrances to the park from River Road on the south or Capitol Drive on the north. The trails at Mitchell Park provide approximately 2-3 miles of groomed trails along the Fox River and woodlands at the park. The trails begin at either of the trailhead signs as depicted on the map. The entry road and parking lot are kept plowed during the winter to allow vehicular access to the park. Find the trail map here.
2585 Pilgrim Rd, Brookfield
The double tracked ski trails at Mitchell Park is excellent for the novice and intermediate skier and are groomed on a regular basis as weather and snow conditions permit. Trail maps are available at the Parks and Recreation office (City Hall) and at the Wirth Park warming house. The park is located at the intersection of North Avenue and Pilgrim Road with the entrance to the park from Pilgrim Road. The 1.5 miles of trails begin near the flagpole by the warming house (pool building). The Wirth Park warming house will be open during those periods when the ice skating rink is supervised. The warming house will be closed when the temperature is below 0°F, high wind chills exist, or the ice is not suitable for skating. Restroom facilities are available inside the warming house. Find the trail map here.
Where to Buy or Rent Ski Equipment
- When there is snow, Nordic Specialists will be on site at Lapham Peak to provide rentals for striding and skate skis as well as snowshoes and Nordic walking poles. They are located at the Park in the Nordic Specialists Hut (white shed located on the road to the Evergreen Parking Lot). Hours listed as of 1/26/22 were as follows:
- Monday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Tuesday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Wednesday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Thursday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Friday 5:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Saturday 10:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.
- Sunday 10:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
- Nordic Specialists – their store in Oconomowoc located at 1217 W. Wisconsin Ave has rentals. They sell cross country ski equipment for the whole family at our shop in Oconomowoc, where each skier gets properly fitted. Packages for all levels are available.
- The Biclycle Doctor store rents equipment in Dousman.
- Check out this local ski-focused SE WI buy, sell, trade group.
- Look for ski equipment at the following outdoor focused local businesses:
- Sherper’s – Oconomowoc
- REI – Brookfield
- Dick’s Sporting Goods – Brookfield
- Dunham’s – Brookfield
- Les Mois – Brookfield
- Costco – Pewaukee / New Berlin
- Bicycle Doctor Nordic Ski Shop – Dousman
- VéloCity Cycling – Pewaukee
- Sierra Trading Post – Brookfield and Delafield
- Peak Nordic Ski Cross Country Ski Club offers a competitive XC ski program for high school athletes, a competitive opportunity for middle school students and a fun beginning program for K thru 6th grade students.
- Kettle Moraine Adventure Company offers Ski lessons. You can learn more here: https://kmadventures.com/.
- The Nordic Ski Shop in Dousman (who I used in the past)