Try Nighttime Cross-Country Skiing & Snowshoeing on the Lighted Trails at Marathon County’s Nine-Mile Forest

Written by Karyn Powers

For three seasons of the year, Nine-Mile County Forest Recreation Area is 4,897 acres of mixed upland hard woods, marshes, and — well — swamp. Two streams, Black Creek and Four-Mile Creek, thread part of their way through Nine-Mile Swamp, winding through open marsh and clumps of spruce.

Nine-Mile is a County Forest Unit, not a County Park. And it’s a popular playland for mountain bikers, birders, and berry pickers; hikers, hunters, and horse people.

A trail at Nine-Mile County Forest and Recreation Area.

In winter, cloaked in white . . . it becomes a wonderland for snow-based recreation.


The forest contains nearly 20 miles of signed, groomed cross-country ski trails with space for both diagonal (classic) and skate skiing. Almost 4 miles of trails are lighted nightly until 9 p.m. during the ski season.

Cross-country skier Larry Mishkar on the lighted trail at Nine-Mile County Forest Recreation Area. (Photo courtesy of Larry Mishkar.)

Trails are groomed several times a week throughout the season and after each snow event.

There are also nearly 7 miles of groomed and signed trails for snowshoeing.


The beginner through expert, signed and mapped trails are usually open mid- to late December through early March — weather and snowfall permitting. Due to the lack of snow this season, the trails at Nine-Mile are NOT open yet (as of the time of this article’s publication: December 17, 2018).

Be sure to check the Park Department’s Facebook page or call us (715- 261-1550) for updates on trail conditions after the next snowfall.

Nine-Mile Chalet

Ready to warm up?

Stop in the spacious chalet at Nine-Mile County Forest and Recreation Area, complete with wood stoves, seating area, changing rooms, restrooms, and ski and snowshoe rentals. The chalet is open Monday through Friday, 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m. (6:00 p.m. after the first weekend in February); Saturday, 8:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; and Sunday, 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.

There is not a food service concession at the chalet, but there are vending machines.

NOTE: Nine-Mile County Forest Recreation Area trails are open even if the chalet is closed. The ski trails never close because of cold weather.


Chalet at Nine-Mile County Forest and Recreation Area.


Planning a special event?

The chalet at Nine-Mile is available for rent during the year. It has seating for 95–100 people and a total capacity of 175. Call the Park Office at 715-261-1550 or visit our Nine Mile web page for details.

Trail Maps

Trail maps are available to view, download, or print at the County’s Cross-Country Skiing and Showshoeing webpage.

Cross-country ski trails are double-tracked with a skating lane and are generally one-way. The lights are located along trail segments B, E, M, N, O, R, X, and E.


Snowshoeing is allowed on the cross-country trails, though a snowshoeing pass is required. A 4-, 6-, 8-, and 10-km looped snowshoe trail is available to the public, with a total of 6.7 miles (10.75 km) of trail.



If you’re new to cross-country skiing, there are FREE adult lessons with FREE rentals hosted by the Nordic Ski Club beginning January 8, 2019.


They also have Snow Striders — a children’s lesson program on Sundays, beginning January 6, for ages 4 through 9. The goal of the program is to get children outside having fun while they learn to cross-country ski. Pre-registration is required.

Once children reach 9 years of age, they can transition into Night Gliders — a competitive ski team for ages 9 to 14.

Cross-Country Skiing Fees at Nine-Mile

Cash, check, or credit card payments are accepted at the Nine-Mile chalet during open hours. Children under 12 ski and snowshoe FREE.



5 P.M.


Youth 12–17 years $ 5 $ 8 $13 $  60
Student 18–23 years
(with a Student ID)
$ 5 $ 8 $13 $  60
Adult 18+ years $ 7 $12 $20 $105
Senior 60+ years $ 6 $10 $16 $  70


  • 1 adult/1 youth or student: $155
  • 1 adult/3 youth or students: $175
  • 2 adults/1 youth or student: $210
  • 2 adults/2 youth or students: $230
  • 2 adults/3 youth or students: $250

(Add $20 for each additional youth or student.)

Snowshoeing Fees at Nine Mile

Child Under 12 FREE FREE FREE
Youth 12–17 years $ 4 $ 6 $30
Student 18–23 years
(with a Student ID)
$ 4 $ 6 $30
Adult 18+ years $ 6 $10 $45
Senior 60+ years $ 5 $ 8 $37

Equipment Rental Costs at Nine Mile

Skis, poles, boots $15 $10
Skis and poles $10 $  7
Boots (only) $5 $  3
Snowshoes $7 $  5


How do you get to this beautiful winter wonderland?

From I-39, take Exit 188. Head west on County Highway N for 3.5 miles. Turn left on Red Bud Road. Drive 1.5 miles to the chalet parking lot on right.


Trail Conditions

For trail conditions, please call the 24-hour ski and visitor information hotline at 1-888-948-4748, or locally at 715-355-8788. You can also check our webpage or Facebook page for updates.

Please respect the land and privileges of other users while visiting the County Forest trails. Dogs are allowed at Nine-Mile County Forest and Recreation Area, but they are not permitted on groomed trails.

*  *  *

Go out and enjoy some WINTER FUN in Marathon County!

karyn_powersKaryn Powers

Recreation Superintendent  |  Wausau / Marathon County Parks, Recreation, & Forestry Department 

Karyn Powers joined the Parks, Recreation, and Forestry Department in 1991. Prior to settling in Marathon County, she spent 5 years working for the Department of Defense in Morale, Welfare, and Recreation Services for the U.S. Navy in Iceland and the U.S. Army in South Korea. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Park and Recreation Administration and a master’s degree in Education. In addition to being the city/county Recreation Superintendent, she is a published poet and author. Karyn fell in love with Marathon County as a college senior when she interned here in 1979, then traveled halfway around the world to get back here as soon as was possible.  Email Karyn Powers.

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Image credit:
Snowshoe image by Wokandapix via Pixabay.