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Calling all winter enthusiasts! Madison Parks is gearing up for winter fun and you’re invited! Recognizing the importance of year-round physical activity, we will continue to provide lots of opportunities to get outdoors this winter. In addition to the traditional cross-country skiing and ice skating amenities, we’ve added a new temporary fat biking trail and snowshoeing maps. Plan to see a few adjustments this season as we take additional safety precautions due to COVID-19.

What to Expect

  • Equipment rentals will be available at Elver, Tenney and Vilas with modified hours.
    • No rentals on Mondays or Tuesdays
    • See locations for equipment, rates and hours.
  • Restrooms will be open with an adjusted capacity limit.
    • Elver Park restrooms will be open beginning 11am Tuesday, December 15.
    • Restrooms at Owen Conservation Park and Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North are open year-round.
    • All other winter restroom locations will be open once the amenity is declared open.
  • Warming shelters are closed to the public. No personal items may be left inside.
    • Limited outdoor seating
    • No food or beverage concessions.
    • The clubhouse at Yahara Hills and Odana Hills is closed and no equipment rentals.
  • A mask or face-covering is required.
  • Practice physical distancing with anyone outside of your household.
  • Permits for disc golf and cross-country skiing must be purchased online or by calling (608) 266-4711, (Monday – Friday, 8am to 4:30pm). On site kiosks are closed. Staff will not sell permits onsite.
  • As a reminder, permits are required for disc golfing at Yahara Hills and skiing at Elver, Odana Hills and Yahara Hills.
  • Vilas Park Drive, which was previously closed as part of the Shared Streets Program, will be open to park and shelter vehicle traffic.

Conditions and status may vary at each amenity. Be sure to check the status online before stepping out. Website links are provided to see the latest status of each rink or trail, rental hours and rates and more. Links provided.

Cross-Country Skiing
Trail grooming will occur as snow conditions allow and after maintaining priority service areas. Snow and ice removal from roads, bike trails, and bus stops are a priority before any trail maintenance is done. A Cross-County Ski Permit is required at Elver, Odana Hills and Yahara Hills. Permits may be purchased online or by calling (608) 266-4711. All other trails are free to use.

Elver Park Snow Loops 
Thanks to our partnership with Central Cross Country Ski Association (CXC) and the support of the Madison Nordic Ski Club (MadNorSki), we are making snow for the regularly groomed snow loops. This is an on-going process and is anticipated to be nearly 2km once completed, (see map). PLEASE STAY CLEAR OF ALL SNOW-MAKING EQUIPMENT AND POWER CORDS. Ski trail conditions are posted by users here. A Cross-Country Ski Permit is required and may be purchased online or by calling (608) 266-4711. Beginning December 15 restrooms at Elver Park will be open daily and ski rentals will be available. The warming shelter will be closed to the public and no concessions will be offered.

Ice Skating
Until an ice rink or lagoon is declared open, do not skate, walk or otherwise go on the ice. Staff monitors the ice at all locations for a consistent depth of at least 5” to safely support humans and grooming equipment. Be sure to check the status of your favorite rink online before stepping out. Have your own skates? It's always free to ice skate in Madison Parks. Elver, Tenney and Vilas will offer skate rentals. For COVID-19 safety precautions, the warming shelters will be closed to the public and there will be no food or beverage concessions. At locations with restrooms, these will be open once the location is open.

Madison Parks offers many hills perfect for winter sledding. We’ve hand-picked a few favorites that are ideal for sledding with a good snow base. With the exception of Elver Park, sledding hills are not maintained by park staff.

  • Aldo Leopold Park
  • Arbor Hills Park
  • Berkley Park
  • Elver Park – open beginning December 16
  • Garner Park
  • Hiestand Park
  • Olbrich Park
  • Orlando Bell Park
  • Warner Park

Elver Park sledding hill is one of the most popular and is lit for nighttime sledding beginning Wednesday, December 16. Sleds will be available to purchase or to rent from the Elver Park shelter beginning December 28. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the shelter is closed to the public and no concessions are available.

Snowshoeing & Hiking
New this year – snowshoe rentals at Vilas Park! Experience winter in Madison Parks like never before with snowshoeing! We’ve suggested a number trails of various lengths and terrains throughout the park system, with new maps for many of the locations. See Snowshoeing for details. As a reminder, snowshoeing is not allowed on groomed cross-country ski trails or off-trail in a conservation park.

Disc Golfing
Yahara Hills offers winter disc golfing with a Disc Golf Permit. A permit may be purchased online or by calling (608) 266-4711.
Free-to-use, year-round disc golf baskets are available at Wexford and Westhaven Trails parks.

Fat Tire Biking
A temporary winter trail is available at Sycamore Park woods. The more than one-mile trail is accessed from N. Thompson Drive and takes bikers through a hilly, woody single track course. Snow pack is maintained thanks to Capitol Off-Road Pathfinders.  This trail is part of a pilot program and available with good snow cover.