Cherokee Marsh, with 4,000 total acres, is by far the largest wetland in Dane County. An enormously diverse nature study area, Cherokee Marsh consists of a mosaic of wetlands, southern Wisconsin woodlots, old fields, restored prairie and oak savannah, two glacial drumlins and a section of the Yahara River. Managed by the Madison Park System, it is located only seven miles from the Capitol at the northern end of Sherman Avenue.

Walk in the midst of a cattail marsh - one which is part of a wetland created by former glacial Lake Mendota. Or, follow the Yahara River boardwalk as it meanders through a sedge meadow, over peat deposits and past a fen - a distinctly different wetland from the cattail marsh. The park contains two observation platforms for wildlife viewing and several belly boards to encourage exploration of pond ecosystems. Other trails lead through prairie restorations, old field habitat, edge habitat, oak savannah, typical southern Wisconsin woods, over a glacial drumlin and to a glacial kettle pond.

Visit Friends of Cherokee Marsh for more information and updates.
Field Study Information
Cherokee's skilled naturalists, many with more than a decade of experience, offer diverse field studies taught at levels elementary, middle and high school students can understand. We encourage students to learn via innovative outdoor experiences and through hands-on exploration. Our naturalist's specialties are:
  • Pond study, (including organism identification)
  • Values of wetlands
  • How land use affects wetlands and water quality
However, just as Cherokee is a diverse environment, so too are our programs. Cherokee naturalists can also teach:
  • Soil building processes, including earthworm and ant communities
  • Life cycles of insects, animals and plants
  • Birding and migration
  • Wetland formation and the value of wetlands
  • Tree and plant identification and the uses and lore of plants
  • Food chains, population and energy flow
  • Seasonal changes
  • Native American culture (we have two conical burial mounds on the grounds)
  • Effects of land use decisions and conservation ethic
  • While the field study topics can be presented in any season, April and May tours favor a chance to see spring wildflowers and tree flowers, migrating songbirds, nesting waterfowl, soil building organisms and a plethora of aquatic life. Our pond study tours allow children not only to see, but participate in catching the creatures found in our waters. During the spring, visitors frequently see deer, mink or muskrats, redwing blackbird courting displays and possibly the displays of sandhill cranes.

    Fall field studies focus on fall plant communities, prairies, pond study, the values of wetlands, seasonal changes and Native American culture and lore. The glaciated landscape of Cherokee once included a farm and a hunting retreat, and our guides also discuss the historical aspects of changing land use.
    Book A Field Study
    For more information on the Cherokee Marsh Naturalist Program or to book a field study for your classroom, please contact:

    Betty Downs
    Naturalist Program Coordinator
    (608) 848-9121

    Schedule Online Now


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