Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Northfield, Minnesota 55057

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Professional Guide

Detailed Trail Description from our Guidebook

"Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is home to one of the last remnants of Big Woods and the federally endangered, rare, endemic Minnesota dwarf trout lily—which you can admire and photograph along the featured hike. Rolling hills and valleys, oak savannas, prairie remnants, and a meandering creek with its Hidden Falls, lush plant life, and looping trail system make this a park well worth visiting.

The park also encompasses a demonstration dairy farm designed to promote sustainable rotational grazing through cooperative efforts between the Department of Natural Resources, the Nature Conservancy, the Minnesota Department of Agriculture, and the farm family."

More Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Professional Guides

Detailed Trail Descriptions from Our Guidebooks

"Hidden Falls is nestled in a deep, wooded valley in one of the last remaining stands of “Big Woods” vegetation in Minnesota. Dense, old-growth hardwood forest of ash, sugar maple, elm, and basswood blanket the area’s rolling hills. Originally close to 5,000 acres in size, these woods were under imminent threat of logging saws during the 1930s, but even as soon as the early 1940s, preservation-minded people worked toward establishing the land as a state park."
60 Hikes Within 60 Miles: Minneapolis and St. Paul (Menasha Ridge Press)
Tom Watson
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"You have to know the human history of this park to fully appreciate these Big Woods. What remains is part of a presettlement hardwood forest that covered more than 5,000 acres hundreds of years ago. Pioneers settling here in the mid-1800s had the foresight to set up small wooded lots that would remain unlogged—a conservation effort based on utility to make sure they had a sustainable supply of firewood as woodlands were cleared for farmland."

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Trip Reports

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Winter hiking is spectacular this year. The falls are frozen over and a great opportunity for photos is happening now!
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Awesome state park within the souther suburbs. The trail offers rolling hills with one or two steep sections. During winter months be sure to head over to the very west section of the park. This area is open till 10 PM, the other areas close before 5 PM.
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This is a great backcountry state park!! It's got campsites that aren't too far from the trailhead (1-3 mi.) and enough close enough together that if one is full when you get there, you can move on to the next--each fully secluded from the next, but fairly close. They are also very near a lake/pond, which was really nice. There are also paved biking trails that one could take, or even car camping areas if that's your cup of tea.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Photos

Trail Information

Nearby City
Trail Type
Easy to Moderate
Skill Level
1.5 hours
1,190 feet
Trailhead Elevation
1,190 feet
Top Elevation
Additional Use
Views, Wildflowers, Waterfalls
Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand, MN; (507) 333-4840; www; Department of Natural Resources, Information Center, St. Paul, MN; (651) 296-6157 or (800) 646-6367 (only in MN);
Local Contacts
USGS Nerstrand
Local Maps

Trail Log