Hill Farms Ice Rink

Note: This is not a University Hill Farms Neighborhood Association activity.
It is run by independent volunteers within the neighborhood.

For questions or concerns not answered below, contact HillFarmsIce@gmail.com

About the Ice Rink

What are the dates of the season? When are you open?

The park is open daily from 4:00 AM to 10:00 PM. The skating season is dependent on the weather. A fantastic season might run from Christmas/New Year's until Groundhogs Day or Valentine's Day. But, some years we are not able to make ice at all. Be aware that after a snowfall, it may take as much as a day to get the rink cleared of snow. A light snow is removed by volunteers, while heavier snows are removed by the City.

Is there a warming shelter?

Yes. Shelters open at 10am and close at 9pm when the Park Ranger comes by. There are also picnic tables outside where you can sit to change into/out of your skates.

Are there restrooms?

Yes. Although the shelter's restrooms are closed in the winter, there is a portable toilet ("port-a-potty") outside the shelter, next to the rink. There are mats/boards between the rink and the toilet to reduce damage to skate blades when walking back and forth.

Do you rent or loan skates?

Our skate loan program is up and running! They will be available on a first-come-first-served basis. Please use the provided disinfectant and towels to clean the skates after you use them, and then return them to the bin.

Is there a food/drink concession?


Are there boards for playing hockey?

No. The rink is all-purpose and open to all types and levels of skaters. Hockey players are welcome and are asked to restrict their game's area on the ice so that others may skate safely and have fun.

Who maintains the rink?

The Adopt Ice program, a partnership between the City of Madison Parks Dept and a group of volunteers ("The Human Zamboni") maintains the rink.

How can I volunteer?

Interested persons can sign up to receive email about scheduling ice making and shoveling (the two main jobs). Email HillFarmsIce@gmail.com and someone will respond. Please be aware that this email address is not watched closely in the off season.

How to Be a Zamboni

Keys to the shelter

Keys to the room where the hose is stored are in a lockbox by the garage door. When you sign up to help, you will receive the combination for opening the lock box.

Start up

  1. Get the hose off the floor (or it might be hanging on the east wall) and take it outside. Don’t have the nozzle open all the way as it will fly around like an angry snake when you turn on the water, if you’re not holding on to it.

  2. At the small utility “window” next to the garage door (unlocks with the same key you used to get into the shelter), connect the hose. You may have to alternate back and forth between the 2 latches. Make certain that both latches are closed completely. Any ice in or on the couplings will not allow you to attach correctly.

  3. Open the diverter by pulling the metal rod toward you. Turn the pump “on” (switch in the plexiglass window). Grab the nozzle. You want some water to be coming out so that you lessen the opportunity for water to freeze inside the hose.

  4. Drag the hose out to the rink.

  5. Start spraying at the far end and work your way backwards. There are several suggestions on the video on the website for patterns you can use to divide up the rink. If there is a 2nd person, they can help to manage the hose by taking up or feeding slack.

  6. Once a base of ice exists, spray light layers — less than a 1/8” inch at a time – this is important! Heavier loads/amounts will freeze on top but not all the way down making a thin ice crust that skates will break through. Best quality ice is made with several very light coats. The water should not be flowing around and running across the ice.

Shut down

  1. Turn the nozzle so that only a small stream is coming out. We don’t want water to freeze inside the hose, so don’t shut the nozzle completely. Stick the nozzle in the snow so that it won’t move around.

  2. Turn the pump “off” by flipping the switch on the plexiglass window. Close the diverter (push it in).

  3. Drag the hose back to the shelter so that it drains — this is VERY IMPORTANT! If the water freezes inside the hose, it can take a long time in sub zero temps for the hose to thaw in the shelter

  4. Disconnect the hose (the two little brass clamps that you connected a while ago)

  5. Coil the hose back on the floor or hang it back on the east wall in BIG loops, making sure to let any remaining water drain out (opening the nozzle as you do this will help). Unless told otherwise, put the hose back where it came from. If one of the tractors is parked too close to the east wall, you won’t be able to get in close enough to hang the hose.

  6. Wipe off any water that is on the bottom of the little door that covers the hose connection. Otherwise, the door could will freeze shut.

  7. Make sure the portable heater is on. Lights out if you turned any on. Otherwise, they are on motion detectors and will shut them off. Please make sure that the garage door is all the way down and locked (latched on the left and right). Lock the door and put the keys back in the lockbox (changing a few of the numbers).

Other Notes

Do not disturb the little heater in the front corner of the hose room. It’s keeping the pipes from freezing. The heater will turn off if it’s picked up, but will turn back on once it’s put down.

Outside lights are on a timer.