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Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - South

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park - South
Address: 802 Wheeler Road
Hours: 4:00am - dusk
Park Type: Conservation
Acres: 261.27
Restroom: No
Drinking Water: No
Shoreline On: Yahara River

Park Details

snow ski at Cherokee Marsh South
Cross-country skiing by Jan Axelson

*NEW* Winter Trails Map - includes designated snowshoe trails, in addition to the ski trails.  

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, South Unit has trails that explore restored prairie, oak savanna, and woodland. High ground offers views of sedge meadow, deep marsh, and the upper Yahara River. Three constructed ponds filter urban stormwater and provide wildlife habitat. A gravel boat launch and pier provide river access. When snow-covered, all trails except the east-most loop are groomed for classic cross-country skiing. The park offers 3.8 miles of trails in total.

Birdlife includes sandhill crane, wood duck, great blue heron, green heron, and belted kingfisher. The wooded areas and woodland edges have woodpeckers, wood-warblers, nesting Baltimore oriole, and blue-gray gnatcatcher. 

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

Park Highlights

cherokee marsh south landing
Photo by Mary Manering

Land Management

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

This park is situated on ancestral Ho-Chunk land. Cherokee Marsh's name dates to a 19th-century hunting club in the area. 
cherokee marsh south pond
Photo by Jan Axelson

Before being acquired by the City in the mid-1960s, the uplands and a portion of the wetlands were used for agriculture and gravel mining. Restoration has included converting old fields to tallgrass prairie, removing invasive woody species from oak woodlands, and prescribed burning. Aquatic plants have been established in the stormwater ponds.

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.

American lotus has been established in the river to protect the river shoreline from erosion and improve water quality.

Visit, the Friends of Cherokee Marsh for sponsor events and volunteer workdays.

At this Park

About This Park

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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.