Skip to main content

Cross-Country Skiing

Winter Activity Updates

Icon of ice skate
All trails are closed. TRAIL STATUS DEFINITIONS | OPEN = trail is snow-covered, skiable with the most recent grooming date posted. | CLOSED = skiing is not advised or permitted
Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing News

For those not familiar with the ski program in Madison Parks, typical free-to-use ski trail sites, offer limited grooming, about once per week, and as conditions allow. Fee-based sites are those requiring a Cross-Country Ski Permit, and use funding from the program to provide more frequent grooming, typically 3-4 times per week or as conditions allow. 

Following the approved revised ordinance for the Cross-Country Ski Permit Program, for this winter season, Madison Parks is proposing to continue fee-based sites at Elver Park and Odana Hills Golf Course and adding this year -- Door Creek Park. The Board of Park Commissioners will review proposed designated locations at their virtual meeting on Wednesday, December 14

Seven winter trails are designated and groomed for cross-country skiing.  

  • FREE-TO-USE: Cherokee Marsh Conservation - South, Owen, Turville Point and Yahara Hills.
    • Groomed weekly, and as conditions allow. 
  • PERMIT REQUIRED: 2022-23 proposed fee-based sites: Door Creek, Elver and Odana Hills Golf Course.
    • Groomed several times per week, as conditions allow
    • A daily or annual Cross-Country Ski Permit is required for anyone aged 16 years or older and may be purchased online. (scroll to green Purchase Permit button).
  • RESTROOMS: Available at Elver, Cherokee Marsh - South (portable), Odana (portable), Owen and Door Creek (portable). 
  • SKI RENTALS: Classic ski rentals are available at Elver Park and Odana Hills. If a location is closed for winter recreation, rentals are not available.  
    • Before you head out, be sure to check the status of each location. 
  • Learn more about cross-country skiing in Madison Parks:

2023 Fees 

Daily $7
Annual $30
Annual Senior (65+) & Disabled $15
Annual Military/Veteran (New!) $15
Replacement $12

  • 2023 permit is available Nov. 1 and is valid through December 31, 2023. 
  • 2022 Permit is valid from the time of purchase through December 31, 2022. 
  • The permit is valid for Dane County Parks trails also. 

Grooming the Trails: How & When  

The type of grooming performed depends on a few things to make the most of both long and short-term skiing opportunities. The amount and type of snow, as well as, the ground condition at the time of the snow event all play a part in the grooming equation.

Did you know Parks staff is responsible for priority snow removal areas? These priority areas are roads, more than 400 bus stops, bike trails, sidewalks, and parking lots. We always appreciate your patience and understanding as safety will always come before fun. To learn more about the grooming process, please see Winter Recreation: Cross-Country Skiing. You may also visit Madison Nordic Ski Club for trail conditions posted by volunteers and trail users. 


  • OPEN = trail is snow-covered, skiable with the most recent grooming date posted. 
  • CLOSED = skiing is not advised or permitted
  • Ski trails typically open after the first snowfall over 4" depending on the type of snow and trail conditions.
  • Fee-based trails are groomed more frequently, as conditions allow and for both skate and classic skiing.
  • Free-to-use ski trails are tracked or roll groomed for classic cross-country skiing. 
  • We may not be able to groom or we may close a trail to preserve the trail condition. The website is updated as soon as information from the field is available.
  • Permit fees are non-refundable

  • Follow directional arrows. Some trails are marked for one-way use
  • Trails are rated for difficulty at the trailhead
  • Skiers stay on groomed trails only
  • No dogs, horses, snowboards, motor vehicles, hiking or snowshoeing on groomed trails
  • Slower skiers please stay to the right