Cherokee Marsh has a wealth of public lands and waters to enjoy.

New! download the Cherokee Marsh bird checklist. If printing double-sided, select “flip on short edge.”

Public Lands

Cherokee Marsh and nearby Public Lands. Map with major trailheads marked.

Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park (City of Madison), three units:

North Unit
Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing (ungroomed).
6098 N. Sherman Ave.

Follow N. Sherman Ave. north to the parking lot at the end of the gravel road. Get directions.

New trail maps, three versions
Color with aerial
Black and white

South Unit and School Road Boat Landing
Hiking when trails not snow-covered, skiing (groomed).
5002 School Rd

Heading north on Northport Drive/HWY 113, turn right on School Rd. Where the road curves right onto Wheeler Rd. 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.Get directions.
Trail map
. New ski trail map.

Mendota Unit
Hiking, snowshoeing, skiing (ungroomed).
Access the trails from Westport Meadows Park on Beilfuss Dr. or from Sauthoff Rd.
Get directions.

Cherokee Marsh Fishery Area (WDNR). Map.

Cherokee Marsh Public Access site (WDNR).

Yahara Heights County Park (Dane County)
Hiking, skiing (ungroomed), snowshoeing. Dog exercise area.

Main entrance (Catfish Ct): heading north from Madison on HWY 113/Northport Dr., 1/3 mile past HWY M, turn right on River Rd., then immediate right onto Catfish Ct. Enter the dog exercise area or follow the sign to the trail system. The park is in the City of Madison and Town of Westport, but the address for navigating is Catfish Ct, Waunakee, WI 53597.

Caton Lane entrance: heading north on HWY 113/Northport Dr., just past HWY M, turn right on River Rd., then right on Riverview Dr., which dead-ends at Caton Ln. Walk into the park through the gate at the end of Riverview or turn right on Caton and walk into the park from the end of the road. For volunteer events only, drive into the park from the end of Caton Ln. The park is in the City of Madison and Town of Westport, but the address for navigating is Caton Ln, Waunakee, WI 53597. Get directions.
Map from County Parks.

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.”

State Natural Areas

A portion of Cherokee Marsh is the Cherokee Marsh State Natural Area.

Also in the Cherokee Marsh watershed is the Westport Drumlin Prairie Unit of the Empire Prairies State Natural Area.

Cherokee Park is a Madison city park adjacent to the marsh (map).

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.

Kayak rentals are available from Skipper Bud’s of Madison.

Watershed Maps

The upper Yahara River watershed

The Yahara River and Lake Mendota watershed boundary and planned growth areas. From Dane County Planning and Development.

Satellite view. The north end of Lake Mendota is in the bottom left corner.

Field Studies for Students

The Cherokee Marsh Naturalist Program provides skilled naturalists to lead field studies for students of all ages. For students from the Madison School District and elsewhere. More information.


Slow, No-wake Zone

The Yahara River is 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.


Yahara Heights County Park has a dog exercise area and allows leashed dogs in the rest of the park. Cherokee Marsh 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.


Bicycling is not allowed in Cherokee Marsh Conservation Park or Yahara Heights County Park.


Deer, waterfowl, and other game hunting are 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 is open by permit to archery hunting for deer and turkey.

Wisconsin hunting and trapping regulations