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Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing News

  • As of Monday, February 27, all designed Madison Parks ski trails CLOSED & grooming operations ended for the 2022-23 season.
  • In the event of a significant snowfall after Feb. 27, trails may become skiable again, however, the website will NOT be updated and trails will not be groomed. 
  • See MadNorSki for area trail conditions posted by volunteers and trail users. 
  • Ski rentals & concessions are CLOSED for the 2022-23 season. 

Cross-Country Skiing in Madison Parks

Seven (7) winter trails are designated and groomed for cross-country skiing. Four are free-to-use and three require a daily or annual cross-country ski permit. 

  • FREE-TO-USE: Cherokee Marsh Conservation - South, Owen, Turville Point and Yahara Hills.
    • Groomed weekly, and as conditions allow. 
  • PERMIT REQUIRED: Door Creek, Elver and Odana Hills Golf Course.
    • Groomed several times per week, and 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
    • OPEN = trail is snow-covered, skiable with the most recent grooming date posted. 
    • CLOSED = skiing is not advised or permitted
  • RESTROOMS: Available at Elver, Cherokee Marsh - South (portable), Odana (portable), Owen and Door Creek (portable).
  • DOGS: Dogs are NOT allowed on cross-country ski trails. Please walk your leashed dogs on designated hiking/snowshoeing trails. 
  • HIKING/SNOWSHOEING: Do not walk on a designated cross-country ski trail. Hiking or snowshoeing is allowed ANYWHERE except on cross-country ski trails and off-trail in a conservation park. See SNOWSHOEING for suggested locations. When in doubt, don't. 
Classic skis with boots and poles are available to rent from Elver and Odana Hills* and include a daily cross-country ski permit. *Before you head out, be sure to check the status of each location. Rental days are only when a location is listed as open. Please click location to see if listed as open. If a location is closed for winter recreation, rentals are not available.  

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. 
  • The permit is valid for Dane County Parks trails also. 

*New* Door Creek Park Added as Cross-Country Ski Permit Site

Earlier this year, Madison Common Council approved a revised ordinance for the Cross-Country Ski Permit Program, which allows the Board of Park Commissioners to designate fee-based locations. A cross-country ski permit is required for Elver Park, Odana Hills Golf Course, and new this year, Door Creek Park. Yahara Hills is a free-to-use site. 

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 require 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. 

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.  


  • 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
  • You may also visit Madison Nordic Ski Club for trail conditions posted by volunteers and trail users.

  • 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