Skip to main content

Cross-Country Skiing

Cross-Country Skiing

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. 

Elver Park 2022-23 Update: Through a mutual decision, there will be no machine-made snow loop at Elver Park this winter season. The MadNorSki, CXC and Parks team are focusing efforts on continued improvements to the natural ski trails and grooming, as conditions allow. 

Winter Recreation: Cross-Country Skiing 
Seven designated and groomed cross-country skiing trails throughout the park system. 
  • FREE-TO-USE: Four groomed trails are free-to-use (Cherokee Marsh South, Door Creek, Owen and Turville Point).
  • PERMIT REQUIRED: Elver, Odana Hills, and Yahara Hills are groomed more regularly as conditions allow and require a daily or annual Cross-Country Ski Permit for anyone aged 16 years or older. (scroll to green Purchase Permit button).
  • RESTROOMS: Available at Elver, Owen, Odana (portable) and Yahara (portable). 
  • SKI RENTALS: Classic ski rentals, sleds, snowshoes and ice skates are available. See Elver Park for hours and rates. 
  • Learn more about cross-country skiing in Madison Parks:


2023 Permit Fees 

Daily $7
Annual $30
Senior (65+) & Disabled $15
Replacement $12
  • A 2022 Permit is valid from the time of purchase through December 31, 2022. 
  • A 2023 Permit is available for purchase Nov. 1 and is valid through December 31. 2023. 
  • The permit is valid for Dane County Parks trails also. 


  • OPEN = trail is snow-covered, skiable with most recent grooming date listed. 
  • 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 (Elver, Odana Hills and Yahara Hills) are groomed more frequently, as conditions allow and for both skate and classic skiing.
  • Free ski trails are tracked or roll groomed for classic cross-country skiing. 
  • We may not be able to groom or we may need to close a trail to preserve the trail condition. This 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