Skiing Timms Hill – The Wisconsin Highpoint

Wisconsin is said to be the birthplace of skiing in North America as Norwegians moved there and started skiing in southern Wisconsin in the 1800s. In 1887 Norwegian ski makers had relocated to Wisconsin due to better availability of hickory for ski making.We can thank Wisconsin for the gift of skiing that we all enjoy today.

Timms Hill
Skiing powder on the roof of Wisconsin.

Hickory was a hard wood to work with and was not part of the first 4800 years of ski history. Only after engineers had developed better machines and metals (steel) for wood working in the late nineteen century did harder woods like hickory become cost-effective for mass or custom production. The technological development of skis after the 1880s made possible the explosion in popularity in skiing in the Alps, which lead to better turning techniques including the Arlberg technique in the 1890s. This advance spread to the US via Brooklyn engineer Irving Langmuir who studied in Europe and brought back skiing knowledge which he spread to John Apperson and other New England skiers. Through ski clubs this knowledge led to the greatest growth in skiing as a sport in the 1930s.

103 Years of Ski Mountaineering >

Wisconsin hosts the most important cross-country ski race in the US, the American Berkebeiner. The 31 mile and 34 mile sections from Cable to Wayward, Wisconsin are the longest races in the US and while the race has only since 1973, it comes from a 150+ year tradition of skiing in Wisconsin.

Powder Skiing on Timms Hill

As my trip to Timms Hill, the highest point in Wisconsin was very short I didn’t get the weather required to show the beauty of wild Wisconsin, or have time to interview local legends. I did get time to do the short ski over the lake to the hill, which truly is just a hill, thanks for the honesty in name. Mt Arvon in Michigan is also just a hill, a bigger hill, but is no mountain.

Timms Hill is part of a group of hills with cross-country ski loops around it. It’d be nice to cruise around on those trails on a sunny day with firm trail conditions. The day I was there I enjoyed nailing laps on the hill. The hill was reminiscent of skiing in highschool on local hardwood hills of about 100 vert.

Wisconsin has bigger hills and more impressive slopes than Timms, some of which have been made into developed ski areas. Like with other Midwestern states some of the fun earn-your-turn gems are in quarries, road cuts and other topographic features.


Names: Timms Hill
Land: a county park
Range: none, it’s a glacial deposit
Elevation: 1915′ (595m)
Vertical: 115′
Access: Park at Hill of Beans coffee shop and restaurant, be sure to buy hot soup and other tasty dishes while your there.

Conservation issues: There are privately owned parcels around the area which make it hard for the area to grow into a proper wilderness, other wilderness areas can be found north of the Timms Hill region. Wolves still live in Wisconsin and are at odds with farmers.
Original owners: Dakota Sioux and Ojibwe. The Black Hawk War 1832 was an act of violent displacement of first nation people from Wisconsin to satisfy the land lust of colonists marching west. This war led to the loss of lands in northern Wisconsin.


Avalanches are not an issue anywhere in the state of Wisconsin. There may be road cuts and landslide paths adjacent to active rivers where slides could happen.

Devils Lake
Devil’s Lake area in Wisconsin has decent sized hills which with enough snow can be skied. There are large talus fields which could provide open skiing with multiple feet of solid base.


See the zany video edit of skiing Timms Hill below set to Wisconsin’s historically favorite music, polka:


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