Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North
|Address:||6098 N. Sherman Ave.|
|Hours:||4:00am - dusk|
|Shoreline On:||Yahara River|
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).
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.
- 4.1 miles of trails.
- Year-round open restrooms.
- Free monthly guided nature walks: See Bird & Nature Adventures
Land ManagementCherokee 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
Wisconsin residents aged 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Nonresidents aged 16 years old or older need a nonresident fishing license to fish in Wisconsin waters with hook and line. Visit the Wisconsin DNR website for more information.Every year, the first consecutive Saturday and Sunday in June and the third Saturday and Sunday in January, are designated as Free Fishing Weekends throughout the state of Wisconsin. Residents and nonresidents of all ages can fish without a fishing license (and trout stamps) over these two days. Visit WI DNR
An accessible pier is located in Vilas Park, on Lake Wingra. From WI DNR: Lake Wingra is a 336-acre lake with a maximum depth of 14 feet. Fish include Musky, Panfish, Largemouth Bass, Northern Pike, and Walleye.
Explore the many scenic trails and pathways throughout Madison Parks. Year-round restrooms are available at Cherokee Marsh, North and Owen conservation parks.
Some of the parks have a trail map on-site or in the "About This Park" on the individual park webpage.
Most parks allow leashed & licensed dogs with a Dog Park Permit. However, dogs are prohibited in all conservation parks and a number of Dog Free Parks. View all Hiking
More information on historic buildings or district questions may be found in the Department of Planning & Community & Economic Development Planning Division.
Wisconsin has the highest concentration of burial mounds in the United States and the Madison area has one of the highest concentrations of burial mounds remaining. Most mounds were lost to 19th-century agricultural practices and city development. The mound builders were farmers who also engaged in hunting and gathering. They lived in small villages and migrated from one to another based on the seasonal availability of natural resources. The mounds often, but not always, have burials associated with them, but their exact purpose is not entirely understood. Mounds tend to have been built in places with beautiful views of the surrounding countryside. The mounds are considered sacred by modern Native Americans and should be treated with respect.
A Burial Mounds Policy was 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.
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, NorthLocation: 6098 N. Sherman Ave.
Built: ca. 700 - 1200 A.D.
Description: This park has two conical mounds, one near the Yahara River shoreline and one near the top of the rise in the north end of the park. Conical mounds are the earliest known form of burial mound made by the Native people in this area.
Parking lots in parks are available for park programs or events during regular park hours: 4:00 am to 10:00 pm. Please observe the following.
- Driving or parking motorized vehicles is not allowed on the grass or near a shelter and is subject to a citation.
- Three-hour limit in all parks, as posted.
- No parking after hours: 10pm to 4am. Overnight parking is not allowed.
- Conservation park hours are 4am until one hour after sunset
- Follow all onsite parking regulation signs.
- Violators are subject to a fine.
The parking lot located on the eastern side of Law Park, commonly known as the Blair Lot, is a metered parking lot, enforced by City of Madison Parking Division between the hours of 6:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
View all Parking Lots
Open public restrooms are listed below. All portable restrooms are accessible.View all Restrooms
Year-Round Open Restrooms
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - North, Warner Park Boat Launch, and Owen Conservation Park are open daily, from approximately 10am to 8pm.
Spring - Fall
Most restrooms are open daily from approximately 10am to 8pm, opening by the first Saturday on or after April 20 and closing for the season October - November. Locations and dates vary and the website is updated.
Once winter recreation begins, in addition to the year-round locations, Elver, Tenney, and Vilas have open restrooms when the winter recreation amenity of that park is open. Please check Winter Fun for the status of winter recreation at a specific park. Other portable restrooms are also added in a number of popular winter recreation locations.
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, NorthOPEN
Notes: open year-round
Experience winter in Madison Parks like never before with snowshoeing! This silent sport is a fantastic way to explore many of our parks during the winter months and is easy to learn.
- DO snowshoe anywhere in a general park with good snow cover, except on a cross-country ski trail.
- DO snowshoe at Door Creek Park on marked trails - see *new* MAP.
- DO snowshoe at Elver Park on the marked trail - see MAP.
- DO snowshoe at Yahara Hills on the marked trails - see MAP.
- DO snowshoe on a trail in any conservation park, except those designated for cross-country skiing (Cherokee Marsh South, Owen, and Turville Point)
- DO snowshoe with sufficient snow (typically 4" or more).
- DON'T snowshoe off-trail in a conservation park.
- Snowshoeing, hiking, and skiing off-trail can destroy snow tunnels used by native small rodents (deer mice, shrews) by the trampling effect. These small mammals are an important part of the wetland and grassland ecology in our conservation parks. Destruction of these tunnel networks makes small mammals more vulnerable to predation.
- When in doubt, it's always best to stay on a trail.
- Our trail systems are designed to facilitate controlled public access while protecting environmentally sensitive areas and providing quiet refuge for wildlife away from people. Disruption of wildlife by human activity during the winter puts additional stress on them during a challenging time for their survival.
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 is prohibited in all conservation parks.
Bicycles & Motor Vehicles
Bicycles and motor vehicles are restricted to entrance roads and parking lots.
Dogs and horses are not allowed.
Fires and picnics are prohibited.
No firearms or weapons are permitted in the restrooms or shelters. Violators are considered trespassers and subject to forfeiture or arrest.
Glass is not allowed.
Hunting & Trapping
Hunting and trapping are prohibited.
Conservation park hours are 4am until one hour after sunset.
All plants and animals are protected. Disturbance or removal requires written permission.
Stay on and use designated trails only.
Trash & Recycling
Place trash in container provided. Please take recyclable material home for proper disposal.