Kettle Moraine Emma Carlin Trails Hiking Guide
Chelsey Hiking at the Emma Carlin Trails in the Kettle Moraine - Southern Unit

I recently discovered a new great place to hike near Milwaukee. Thanks to a local hiking organization, I learned about the Emma Carlin Trails in the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit by attending one of their group hikes. While I visited in February, the trails are typically open year-round. This Kettle Moraine Emma Carlin Trails hiking guide is a great resource to help you plan your next hike.

Things to Know Before Visiting

Entrance to the Emma Carlin Trails in the Kettle Moraine - Southern Unit
  • Daily admission costs $8 per car or is free with an annual vehicle admission sticker.
  • Palmyra is the closest town and is about a 5-minute drive west on Highway 59.
  • The hilly terrain found along the trails makes most routes moderate to difficult.

Hiking at the Emma Carlin Trails

Field in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit
Trees in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unite

There are three different trail loops within the Emma Carlin system of varying lengths. The Brown Loop is 3.5 miles, the Orange Loop is 6 miles, and the Green Loop is 8 miles. It offers lots of diversity in terrain and views so you can visit again and again. As always, double check the trail map before starting your hike.

I hiked the Brown Loop during my February visit. The trails are not maintained in the winter, so make sure to wear snowshoes or winter hiking boots if visiting when there is snow. Despite its comparatively short length, the Brown Loop still makes for a long hike through the snow and is the route I would recommend for anyone visiting in the winter. Summer is a better time to visit for less experienced hikers. The Emma Carlin Trails are located within the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit and are a great place to see big trees near Milwaukee!

How to Get to the Emma Carlin Trails

The Emma Carlin Trail Head lies on the west side of County Road Z in Palmyra. There is a fairly large parking lot and a large sign over the trail entrance reading “Welcome to Emma Carlin” to indicate you’re in the right place.

About Girls Who Hike Wisconsin

Hiking with a Friend at the Emma Carlin Trails in the Kettle Moraine - Southern Unit

I first visited the Emma Carlin Trails for a group hike with an organization called Girls Who Hike Wisconsin. Girls Who Hike WI is an online community on Facebook for female hikers across Wisconsin. This was the first group hike I attended with Girls Who Hike WI. I have also attended group hikes with Women Hiking Wisconsin at Harrington Beach State Park and Richard Bong State Recreation Area. These organizations are a great way for female hikers in Wisconsin to connect and hike together!

Kettle Moraine Emma Carlin Trails Hiking Guide

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Debbie

    Great article Chelsey!

  2. I am an ambassador for Ohio and write about my meetups/hikes with GWH as well. It’s awesome to see another outdoor blogger having fun with GWH.

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