Nothing to Do This Winter? Give Me a Break… Marathon County Is THE BEST Place to Play in the Snow!

Written by Brad Karger

Every year, we complain about the teeth-chattering C-C-C-COLD weather — like we are surprised that we live in a northern climate.

OK, OK… Sometimes I do the same thing.

But I really shouldn’t.

Look around — There’s plenty to do in Central Wisconsin in the winter any day that doesn’t involve sub-zero temps!

For some WINTER FUN this upcoming weekend, I invite you to head over to:

Winter Fest at the 400 Block in Wausau on Saturday, January 27, 2018, to try the snow slide, go on a horse-drawn wagon ride, watch the dog weight-pulling competition, see fat-tire bike demos, partake in the Ice-Tee Classic (a family-friendly miniature golf course in the snow behind the Y in downtown’s Yawkey Park), & much, much more! See a schedule of events here.

And don’t miss the Team USA Snow Sculptors create their 28th snow sculpture at the Woodson Art Museum on Saturday and Sunday, January 27 and 28. Get the details and see a video of the artists in action here.

The Central Wisconsin Convention and Visitors Bureau in its Official 2018 Visitor Guide identifies some great opportunities to experience the fun of winter in Marathon County!

What do you like?

What are you willing to try?

Downhill Skiing2018 CVB Visitor Guide Cover

Cross-Country Skiing




Tubing & Sledding

Ice Skating

Copies of the Official 2018 Visitor Guide are available in many locations, including the Central Wisconsin Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Marathon County Courthouse.

Downhill Skiing


With 75 Runs, 4 Terrain Parks, and 3 High-Speed Lifts, it’s not surprising that Granite Peak is the #1 ski resort vacation destination in Wisconsin, Illinois, and Michigan.

But, that’s only the tip of the mountain…

Toss in:

  • A legendary ski school
  • A charming chalet village
  • Night skiing
  • Mogul runs
  • Tree-skiing
  • Family specials all season long — including our popular Family Festival Weekends

…and you’ve got the perfect blend of great skiing and wonderful entertainment.

Over the past 16 years, Granite Peak has invested millions of dollars to produce the largest and most comprehensive snowmaking operation in the entire Midwest. And, as if that’s not enough, this summer they invested several million more dollars to double their already impressive snowmaking capabilities.  Now, they can open earlier, cover more runs sooner, and stay open later in the season.

This season, Granite Peak has over 200 events and concerts scheduled throughout the season, including their Party at the Peak Winter Concert Series and the Sundance Stage Spring Concert Series that features national and regional touring bands.

Call 715-845-2846 or visit for the latest line-up, rates, and trail conditions.

Cross-Country Skiing


Marathon County provides some of the best cross-country ski facilities in Central Wisconsin and offers 20 miles of trails, including lighted trails.


Difficulty Beginner to expert
Length 20 miles (33 km)
Grooming Frequently groomed 8’ wide skating lane & machine-set double tracks
Location Exit 183 from I-39 / US-51.

West on Cty Hwy N, 3.5 miles to Red Bud Rd.

Hours Mon.                    9 A.M. – 7 P.M.*

Tues. – Thurs.    9 A.M. – 9 P.M.

Fri.                        9 A.M. – 5 P.M.

Sat.                        8 A.M. – 9 P.M.

Sun.                       8 A.M. – 5 P.M.

*6 P.M. after 1st weekend in February



It stands to reason that the state’s largest county would have the most trails — over 880 miles for snowmobilers to enjoy.

The trails are maintained by 29 snowmobile clubs and a fleet of 47 major pieces of grooming equipment to create one serious sledding destination.

Miles and miles of great snowmobiling adventures await you!

Visit the Marathon County website — — or call 888-WI-VISIT (888-948-4748) to request an Official Marathon County Snowmobile Map.

Many of the snowmobile trails are open to ATV use as long as the temperature is below 29° and snow conditions are favorable. More ATV trail information is also included in the Marathon County Snowmobile Trail Map.

(For future reference: There are also 11 miles of ATV trails at the Burma County Forest that are open from May through September.)

For trail conditions or a copy of the Marathon County Snowmobile Trail Map, call 888-575-SNOW (7669) or 715-261-1550.



Wisconsin is the geographic center of curling in the United States, and Wausau’s newly completed state-of-the-art Wausau Curling Center (located at 1920 Curling Way) is home to the largest curling club in the state.

Opened in late 2012, the Wausau Curling Center is the largest curling-specific facility in the United States and houses 8 Olympic regulation sheets.

The Wausau Curling Club and its approximately 350 adult members also provides access to the sport for over 150 local high school student athletes. The center’s spectator area is open for public viewing during high school play and adult leagues are held Monday–Friday and Sunday evenings and mornings (except Thursday) from November through March.

Wausau Curling also hosts many state-wide, national, and international events and bonspiels (tournaments) during its season. Visit their website at for more information.



Marathon County has several scenic areas to go snowshoeing, including:

Rib Mountain State Park — Five miles of trails have been developed specifically for snowshoeing enthusiasts. Varied terrain provides a challenge for every skill level. Trails are clearly marked and trail maps are available at the park entrance. For a special nighttime experience, Candlelight Snowshoe Hikes are organized, complete with hot chocolate and snowshoe rentals, which are available during scheduled snowshoe hikes. Visit them at 4200 Park Rd., Wausau.

Nine Mile County Forest Recreation Area — Not just a place for cross-country skiing, Nine Mile offers visitors some of the area’s best snowshoeing, too! There are 7.5 km of snowshoe trails, and rentals are available, making this the perfect place to experience this fun wintertime activity. There’s a comfortable chalet with plenty of space to relax after a trek through the woods.  Visit them at 8704 Red Bud Rd., Wausau. Chalet phone: 715-693-3001.

Dells of the Eau Claire Park — Winding along the Eau Claire River, trails at the scenic park lead snow shoers through magnificent rock formations, spectacular scenery, and other “Kodak moments.” Adjacent to the Dells of the Eau Claire is the Ice Age Trail, offering additional trails to explore. Visit them at P2150 Cty Hwy Y, Aniwa.

Tubing & Sledding


Sylvan Hill Park is home to the longest tubing hill in the state at 1,200 feet. It offers 6 runs for a great ride down, plus 2 tow lines to pull you back up.

For safety reasons, only tubes provided by Sylvan Hill may be used, and tubes are for single riders only. There’s a minimum height requirement of 42”.

Sylvan Hill Park features a chalet with snack bar, restrooms, lockers, and fireplace. Regular weekend hours are:

  • Fridays 6:00–9:30 P.M.
  • Saturdays 1:30–5:00 P.M. and 6:00–9:30 P.M.
  • Sundays 1:30–5:00 P.M.

Sylvan Tubing Hill was also open with special extended hours the week between Christmas and New Year’s. Private hill rentals are also available.

The following sledding areas are open sunrise to 11:00 P.M. daily as snow cover permits:

3M Park                               405 Park Blvd., Wausau

George St. Park                  802 George St., Rothschild

Pleasant View Park          1221 Sumner St, Wausau (Featuring lighted hills!)

Riverside Park                   100 Sherman St., Wausau

Schofield Park                   606 E. Randolph St., Wausau

Ice Skating


The Wausau area has 3 fantastic skating facilities that bring this favorite winter activity indoors. Each offers both skating and hockey rinks, rentals, and heated seating areas.

Indoor skating facilities:

Greenheck Field House                 6400 Alderson St., Schofield  |  715-359-6563

Marathon Park                                  1201 W. Stewart Ave., Wausau  |  715-261-1550

Mosinee Rec Center                       701 11th St., Mosinee  |  715-693-3095

For outdoor skating facilities, visit

* * *

The Wausau & Marathon County Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department is — as you can see from the lists provided above — a MAJOR provider of exciting winter recreational opportunities for residents and visitors.

You’re already supporting these opportunities with your tax dollars…

Why not make a belated 2018 New Year’s Resolution to quit GRUMBLING about the cold temps and find one new activity that helps you ENJOY your winters here?

Come on…

You’ve gotta admit — Marathon County is THE BEST place to play in the snow! {Tweet this!}

Or to take a “refreshing” dip in some local ice-cold waters for a good cause.

Watch the video below to see me enjoying our Wisconsin winters as I took the “Udder Plunge” — with the bravery (and costume!) of Superman — leaping into icy-cold waters in a single bound — at an Athens fundraiser last year.

Come out and PLAY IN THE SNOW in Marathon County!

I’ll see you out there…

Brad Karger - Marathon County AdministratorBrad Karger

Marathon County Administrator

In his Administrator role, Brad Karger leads an organization with 700+ employees and an annual budget of more than $165 million. Brad has been in leadership positions with Marathon County for the past 30 years. He is known statewide for generating innovative ideas and solutions to problems, openness and transparency, and a commitment to community service that extends well beyond the normal workday.  Email Brad Karger.

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Downhill skiing image by Pexels on Pixabay  |  CC0 BY-1.0
Cross-country skiing image by IvaBalk on Pixabay  |  CC0 BY-1.0
Snowmobiling image by freddebackman on Pixabay  |   CC0 BY-1.0
Curling image by Shabbytochicnz on Pixabay  |  CC0 BY-1.0
M’s Snowshoes image by Rebecca Siegel on Flickr  |  CC BY-2.0
Skating image by IvaBalk on Pixabay  |  CC0 BY-1.0