Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Enjoy this park on foot, any season of the year. In the spring, the park is a wildflower garden where hepatica, bloodroot, Dutchman's breeches, and the dwarf trout lily bloom. The dwarf trout lily is only found here. Relax by Hidden Falls in the summer. The autumn brings a burst of red, orange, and gold in the maple-basswood forest, one of the last extensive stands of the "Big Woods." When winter comes, ski or snowmobile the trails through picturesque woods.

Tell me more about this park's wildlife, history, geology and landscape.

Visitor Alert

  • The campground dump station, shower building and picnic shelter restroom facilities are open for the season.
  • Campers: Rule of three - One camping structure, one vehicle, one screened tent. Six people per site. Approval from park required for exceptions as space varies per site.
  • Hammocks: One per set of trees (no stacking), straps only (no ropes), must be within the campsite, only some sites can accommodate a hammock. If your only camping structure is a hammock tent please call ahead to assure the trees accommodate.
  • Hidden Falls low-water crossing is open with a good supply of water going over the falls. Some of the trails may be wet in places.
  • Walk-in and group sites are in the rustic area. This means that the shower facilities in the main campground are not included in the rates. The facilities have a limit on capacity, therefore, if you are in the rustic area, please do not take showers.

When the office is unstaffed, use self-service to pay your entrance fee. Put garbage and pet waste in the parking lot dumpster.

(Updated August 13, 2017)

Park Notes

Virtual Tour:

Take a virtual tour. It's a great tool to help you plan your next trip to the park!
Panoramic tour | Snapshot tour

Gift cards:

Purchase a Minnesota State Parks Gift Card.

Don't move firewood!

Burning non-local firewood can spread invasive species, and it's against Minnesota state law. Learn more. Always buy your firewood at the park, or from an approved local vendor. Find firewood vendors for Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park.

Firewood is available for sale at $6.00 per bundle.

Flowers In Bloom:

Joe-Pye Weed, Ironweed, Butterfly Milkweed and other milkweed species, Wild Bergamot, Black-eyed Susan, Purple Coneflower and Grey-headed Coneflower, Sunflowers, Hyssop, Butterflyweed, Cup Plant, Rattlesnake Master, and Culver's Root. Big Blue, Switch grass, and Indian grasses. Gray Dogwood is fruiting and Ironwood is seeding! Check out the Prairie Trail!


Goldfinches are bright yellow now for breeding! They are one of the last birds to start the nesting cycle. 08-13-17 Please avoid playing bird call recordings in the park, as it can stress the birds.

Download the park's bird checklist This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. »
Loaner binoculars and bird identification kits are available from the park office.

Park Highlights

tree "Big Woods" Landscape

tree Spectacular Spring Wildflowers

tree Fabulous Fall Color

tree Visitor Center

tree Self-guided Interpretive Trail

tree Hidden Falls Waterfall


Best time to contact the park in the fall, winter and early spring:

Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. - 4 p.m.; Monday - Friday, variable depending on staff availability. If no one is available, please leave a message.

When office is closed, please use the self-registration station at the front of the office to purchase daily and annual permits. Annual permits purchased through self-registration will be mailed to you.


9700 170th Street East
Nerstrand, MN 55053

tel: 507-333-4840


Getting There

Take I-35 to State Highway 19 east into Northfield. Go south on State Highway 3, east on State Highway 246, then turn right onto County Road 29.