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four migrating swans take flight
a kayak prow noses through lotus flowers and pads on the Yahara River

Visit the
Cherokee Marsh
Public Lands

Includes major trailheads and boat landings.

See details and map links below for the many different public lands to visit at Cherokee Marsh, as well as information for paddlers, boaters, hunters, and dog owners.

​​​​City of Madison
Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park, three units

North Unit
Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing (ungroomed). Restrooms on site.
6098 N. Sherman Avenue

Follow N. Sherman Avenue north to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road.

​Trail Map

South Unit & School Road Boat Landing
Hiking except for marked ski trails in winter, skiing (groomed), boat landing.
5002 School Road

Where School Road curves right onto Wheeler Road, take an immediate left into Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park. Park in the small lot along the street or follow the gravel road to the boat landing and additional parking.

Trail Map

Mendota Unit
Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing (ungroomed).
Access the trails from Westport Meadows Park on Beilfuss Drive or from Sauthoff Road.

Trail Map

​​Meadow Ridge Conservation Park

Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing (ungroomed).
4002 Meadow Valley Drive

Trail Map

​Cherokee Park

A City of Madison neighborhood park adjacent to the marsh lands. Playground, fishing, basketball court, canoe & kayak launch.

Dane County
Yahara Heights County Park and
Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area

Hiking, skiing (ungroomed), snowshoeing. Sign-posted dog exercise area.


The west end of the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area is Yahara Heights County Park, which includes two separate areas: 1) a dog exercise area and 2) expanses of restored prairie and woods. The Natural Resource Area continues to the north and east between the Yahara River and River Rd.


West entrance (Catfish Ct): heading north from Madison on HWY 113/Northport Drive, 1/3 mile past Highway M, turn right on River Road, then immediate right onto Catfish Court. There is a small parking area for the trail system just before the fenced dog exercise area. The address for navigating is Catfish Court, Waunakee, WI 53597.


East entrance (River Rd): heading north from Madison on Highway 113/Northport Drive, 1/3 mile past Highway M, turn right on River Road and continue for 1.5 miles. A small parking area is on the right (south) side of the road.

Information & Maps

The Yahara Heights Park brochure shows trails, points of interest, and more.

​Designed by Erika Zar. If printing double-sided, select “flip on short edge.”

Cherokee Marsh Wildlife Area

The 126-acre Cherokee Marsh Wildlife Area is a public hunting area located just west of DeForest, WI, near the intersection of River Road and State Highway 19.  Lands are directly adjacent to Cherokee Marsh Fishery Area owned by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources
Cherokee Marsh Fishery Area

Cherokee Marsh Public Access site. This property is adjacent to the northwest boundary of Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park's South Unit. Find several maps at the link.

​Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area

This is a protected high-quality prairie and fen with no developed trails or facilities.​

Empire Prairies State Natural Area, Westport Drumlin Unit

​Empire Prairies contains five prairie remnants and a small oak opening that were once part of the extensive Empire Prairie stretching across southern Columbia and northern Dane counties. Oriented on a northeast to southwest-oriented glacially sculpted ridge is Westport Drumlin Prairie, a small but diverse prairie containing more than 100 native plant species.

Groundswell Conservancy
Westport Prairie

A 227-acre wildlife area on the east side of Waunakee, WI, with 1.5 miles of trails and a 14-acre drumlin. Recreational opportunities include wildlife viewing, cross country skiing, hiking, snowshoeing, hunting, and trapping. 

For Paddlers

Cherokee Marsh is included in the Yahara Waterways Water Trail Guide.


The Yahara Headwaters water trail travels through the marsh. From Capitol Water Trails.

The Upper Yahara River water trail. From Wisconsin River Trips.


Slow, No-wake Zone

The Yahara River is designated "slow, no-wake" from Hwy 113 upstream to the mouth of Token Creek. Red-and-white striped buoys mark the river boundary with Cherokee Lake adjacent to the Cherokee Park neighborhood. The slow, no-wake restriction was enacted by local ordinances and approved by the Department of Natural Resources in 1995.

During times of high water, Dane County also declares Cherokee Lake as no wake to protect the shoreline from erosion. Informational signs are at the School Rd. boat landing and the Hwy 113 bridge.

Slow, no-wake means the speed at which a boat moves as slowly as possible while still maintaining steerage control.

Dane County’s slow, no-wake page includes any current emergency slow, no-wake orders.


Dogs are allowed in these areas, as specified:

Yahara Heights Dog Park has a sign-posted dog exercise area and, in the rest of the park, allows dogs on leash.

Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area allows dogs on leash.

Cherokee Marsh State Fishery Area allows dogs but may require leashing during nesting season. (Check the signs where you enter.)


*Dogs are NOT allowed in Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park or other City of Madison conservation parks.


Bicycling is not allowed in Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park or Yahara Heights County Park, except on the entry roads to the parking lots.


Subject to state hunting regulations:

Deer, waterfowl, and other game hunting is allowed in the Cherokee Marsh Fishery Area.

Waterfowl hunting is allowed in the upper Yahara River including the DNR Cherokee Marsh Public Access site.

A portion of Yahara Heights County Park and the Cherokee Marsh Natural Resource Area are open by permit to seasonal archery hunting for deer and turkey.

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