Skiing and Snowshoeing on the Glacial Drumlin Trail

Baby, it’s cold outside!

But that’s no reason to stay cooped up indoors. In fact, Wisconsin winter can be a great time to get out on the Trail to take in everything from icy snow-laced lakes, open wintery meadows to the shelter of tall pine groves. All with none of the crowds, bugs, or excessive heat of summer.

In fact, off-season outings mean you often have the trail to yourself. And winter can be a spectacularly beautiful time to see the great outdoors in a whole new light!

Get Your Gear

A popular way to explore a snowy Wisconsin state recreation trails is on Nordic cross-country skis or on snowshoes.

Skis are great for covering longer distances on snow, especially if you can ski in the path of a previous skier. Snowshoes, while slower than gliding on skis, are perhaps more versatile, especially if venturing off-trail or into brush.

If you don’t already have your own Nordic skis or snowshoes, you can purchase (or sometimes rent) them from local sports shops (see links below). For both, you’ll also want a pair of poles matched to your height, for better balance on uneven terrain.

As when venturing out anywhere in the Wisconsin winter, good outdoor clothing will keep you warm and dry: thermal underwear tops and bottoms, a synthetic fleece layer for insulation, all covered by wind- and water-resistant shell jacket & pants. Don’t forget a good hat, gloves, and socks. As usual, these should all be layered, so that you can easily add or remove clothing as needed for maximum comfort.

You might also consider a small backpack containing a few essentials: water, snacks, extra clothing, phone, perhaps a compact first-aid kit.

Trail Passes

Just as for walking and hiking on most Wisconsin recreation trails, a state trail pass is not required for skiing or snowshoeing. But if you want one for other activities, here’s where to get yours.

The Glacial Drumlin Trail is open during the winter to walking, bicycling, cross-country skiing and snowshoeing. But the trail is NOT groomed for skiing, so you will often need to make your own tracks.

Portions of the Trail are also open to snowmobiles; specifically, the western 39 miles of unpaved trail from Cottage Grove to Dousman. So, remain aware of approaching snowmobiles, and take caution. In general, keep to the right when meeting skiers, snowmobiles, or other trail users. Consider wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing for better visibility, and be sure to considerately share the trail with other users, while they do the same.

Where to Go?

The Glacial Drumlin Trail offers such varied terrain and environments that you really can’t go wrong wherever you decide to brave the snow. The western sections are generally more open meadows and fields, while the eastern portions offer more wooded protection from cold winds.

  • From Cottage Grove eastward, tiny Koshkonong Creek playfully crosses beneath the Trail several times, either babbling crisply in the wintery ravines, or sometimes frozen solid.
  • The old railroad trestle crossing Rock Lake in Lake Mills offers 360-degree views of the frozen lakes, often dotted with ice-fishing shanties.
  • Where the Trail crosses the Crawfish and Rock Rivers near Jefferson, watch for bald eagles and ospreys fishing in the open waters.
  • You may find winter songbirds seeking shelter in the densely forested areas between Sullivan and Dousman.

Whatever part of the Glacial Drumlin Trail you decide to enjoy during the winter, perhaps the best reward is a mug of hot chocolate, a steaming bowl of soup, or a restorative cocktail at one of the many unique establishments along the Trail.

Use the interactive Visitors Guide to find one close to you!

Contact these local retailers regarding Nordic ski or snowshoe purchases or rentals!

Rutabaga Paddlesports, Madison

Fontana Sports, Madison

REI, Brookfield

Bicycle Doctor Nordic Ski Shop, Dousman

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