Fox Hill came in for a coat of new colors in the 1940s. While the hotel served the war effort as an evacuation center, John Timmer, son of Mathias, together with the Milwaukee Ski Club, developed downhill runs on the drumlin’s steepest slopes. While some clearing was done to permit skiing and a post-war barrack was transplanted in 1949 to serve as the ski club’s warming lodge, these modest improvements paled in comparison to ambitious designs in the minds of commercial developers. In 1971, John Timmer sold those 18 acres to the Milwaukee Ski Club for private use by its members. Thus, the hill remained a natural treasure for all to continue admiring on scenic drives or walks along Highway NN or Hillside Road.
In the days of snow, Fox Hill became an excellent rope tow ski area for many legendary ski names in the community. Later, competing slopes boasting artificial snow and chair lifts threatened the future of both the ski club and Fox Hill. Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation secured both when it bought the development rights to the land in 1989. With the ski club still intact, Fox Hill became the cornerstone property of what would grow to become the Klingler Fox Hill Nature Conservancy.
Three years later, in December of 1992, a completely natural 40-acre parcel at the corner of Sleeping Dragon Road and Highway NN was purchased by the Foundation and added to the conservancy. This was quickly followed by the addition of 40 acres in 1993 when, with the Foundation’s promise that all natural areas would be preserved, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources awarded matching funds toward the purchase of the adjacent Moberly farm. Another 35 acres of the farm was purchased in 1994 under the same conditions.
With this acquisition, the conservancy was of substantial size. But the puzzle-like parcel was not complete until 1998 when Diane and Brian Glynn conveyed the final 10 acres of adjacent land through a charitable transfer to the Foundation. The Glynn property joined two larger sections and signaled the end of the Foundation’s 10-year effort of acquiring the land for this project.
The interest of Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation in all its projects is more than the acquisition of land. Each piece of the Foundation’s property requires special care. In fact, the very reason Cedar Lakes Conservation Foundation acquires land, through gifts or purchase, is to ensure that our environmentally important areas receive the stewardship necessary to protect and preserve this beautiful and fragile watershed for future generations.
Within the Klingler Conservancy, for example is an old farm field that became overgrown with weeds. Today, a combination of experts and Foundation volunteers are engaged in the task of redressing that portion of Fox Hill in its debutante gown of wildflowers and prairie grass.
Foundation properties are limited to pedestrian traffic only. Visitors to these protected areas are asked to stay on trails so as not to disturb plants or wildlife.
Two very energetic groups of volunteers have made significant contributions in caring for the trails at Fox Hill:
Fox Hill Nordic
Today, cross-country ski enthusiasts can enjoy some of the best skiing in Wisconsin, thanks to Fox Hill Nordic Ski Club. Knowing of the Foundation’s wish to provide well-groomed trails at Fox Hill, this group undertook back-breaking labor of establishing five complete trails designed to accommodate skiers of all levels of expertise, from beginners to experts. Each trail is well marked and maps are posted at the trail heads. Perhaps the most satisfying to skiers is that not only does a day at Fox Hill guarantee fantastic scenery but also that the trails are groomed regularly and expertly with the use of state-of-the-art equipment!
Those wishing to enjoy the ski trails need only join Fox Hill Nordic. Membership fees help cover the cost of trail maintenance. From the first snow of the season, Milwaukee Ski Club’s lodge is open to Fox Hill Nordic skiers on Saturdays and Sundays from 10:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m. The trails are open every day! Visitors to Fox Hill are asked to park at either the ski lodge or at Klingler Memorial Rock (both accessed from Highway NN).
Boy Scouts of America
The second group of volunteers was an energetic group of local Boy Scouts. In August of 1998, Scott Herdeman, a Life Scout working toward the rank of Eagle Scout, led West Bend’s Troop 762 in building an impressive footbridge to help visitors cross a stream by either foot or ski.
A Very Special Gift
Charles Klingler became a sailing enthusiast while enjoying boyhood summers from the shores of Big Cedar Lake. As an adult, Charles Klingler always appreciated areas that had remained natural as he remembered them from his youth. He was Commodore of the Cedar Lake Yacht Club in 1926. While he enjoyed sailing Class “C” sloops, his favorite was the Class “E” and in a letter to skippers dated October 14, 1926, he announced his initiative to bring the 28-foot crafts to Big Cedar Lake. In 1994, his generous widow, Helen, knowing of his love for natural landscapes, endowed the Klingler Fox Hill Conservancy on November 13, her birthday. Her gift was vital to the completion of this project. We hope that Helen takes great pleasure in knowing that, thanks to her generosity, Fox Hill looks much the same way the Algonquin tribes and early explorers would remember it and will stay that way for generations to come.