Skip to main content

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North
Address: 6098 N. Sherman Ave.
Hours: 4:00am - dusk
Park Type: Conservation
Acres: 946.58
Restroom: Yes
Drinking Water: Yes
Shoreline On: Yahara River

Park Details

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, North Unit has trails that explore restored prairie, oak savanna, and woodland. Boardwalks with observation decks offer views of the upper Yahara River, deep marsh, and sedge meadow. A pier provides canoe/kayak access (1/4 mile carry-in from the parking area).

woman sitting on a bench overlooking a vast open savanna
Photo by Alex Tande

Birdlife includes nesting sandhill cranes in the wetlands and bald eagle and osprey on the river. The wooded areas and woodland edges have scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, rose-breasted grosbeak and woodpeckers. Eastern bluebird and tree swallow nest in the prairie. In spring, American woodcock perform their "sky dance" over the wetlands. Wood-warblers use the area as a migration stop.

This park is a major destination for local residents and environmental education groups.

Visit the Friends of Cherokee Marsh, to learn more including events and volunteer projects. 

Park Highlights

  • 4.1 miles of trails.
    purple flower in bloom with two monarch butterflies
    Photo by Jan Axelson
  • Year-round open restrooms. 
  • Free monthly guided nature walks: See Bird & Nature Adventures 


Land Management

Cherokee Marsh, Dane County's largest wetland, is located at the head of the chain of Yahara lakes. Cherokee Marsh - North Unit is one piece in a complex of protected land that supports diverse wildlife and native plant communities in the marsh and adjacent uplands.

The park is situated on ancestral Ho-Chunk land. Within the park are two conical mounds constructed by Native Americans before European settlement. Cherokee Marsh's name dates to a 19th-century hunting club in the area.

The first land acquisition for the park occurred in 1964 with numerous additions in the years following. Cherokee Marsh – North Unit was designated a conservation park in 1971 when the Parks Division first created the Conservation Park program.

Previously, agriculture was the dominant land use on the uplands and in more accessible portions of the wetlands, many of which were drained. Major restoration has included filling ditches to restore wetlands, converting old fields to tallgrass prairie, removing invasive woody species from oak woodlands, and prescribed burning.

American lotus has been established in the river to protect the river shoreline from erosion and improve water quality. Restoration of oak woodland and oak savanna has resulted in increased numbers of woodpeckers, including the red-headed woodpecker, a Wisconsin Species of Special Concern. Parks management follows a snag protection policy to preserve dead, standing trees for wildlife.

Burial Mound Policy 
Created with assistance from the Wisconsin Historical Society and the Ho-Chunk Nation, and approved by the Board of Park Commissioners in October 2019, the policy provides guidelines and procedures for managing burial mounds located in Madison Parks. Burial mound locations are also included in the policy.

At this Park

About This Park

Get to This Park

Conservation Park Rules

Conservation Parks are uniquely managed to further protect native species and wildlife. The preservation of conservation parks includes some of the following. More information may be found in Madison General Ordinances 8.40.

  • Alcohol

    Alcohol is prohibited in all conservation parks.

  • Bicycles & Motor Vehicles

    Bicycles and motor vehicles are restricted to entrance roads and parking lots.

  • Dogs

    Dogs and horses are not allowed.

  • Fire

    Fires and picnics are prohibited.

  • Firearms

    No firearms or weapons are permitted in the restrooms or shelters. Violators are considered trespassers and subject to forfeiture or arrest.

  • Glass

    Glass is not allowed.

  • Hunting & Trapping

    Hunting and trapping are prohibited.

  • Open Hours

    Conservation park hours are 4am until one hour after sunset.

  • Plants

    All plants and animals are protected. Disturbance or removal requires written permission.

  • Trails

    Stay on and use designated trails only.

  • Trash & Recycling

    Place trash in container provided. Please take recyclable material home for proper disposal.