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!


All trails are open. Ferns and other vegetation are dominant in the understory.

Park hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visitor Center hours vary depending on the day of the week. With the recent drier weather all trails are open for hiking. Always wear appropriate footwear if you'll be doing extended hiking. We are currently out or paper maps and are making some changes before reordering. New trail signage shows a map at every intersection or take a picture with your phone to take with you. North Trails are hilly and south trails are flat. Purple cone flower, sunflowers, joe-pye weed, ironweed, and gray-headed cone flower, creamy gentian, Indian Pipe, blue vervain, calico aster, thin-leaved coneflower, purple coneflower are blooming.

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls is running slower with the dry weather but still worth the trip to see. Check back for updates, or call for current conditions.

Birds: Listen for cardinals and chickadees. Red-headed woodpeckers are seen gathering acorns to store for winter. Look for birds at Visitor Center feeders and throughout the park. Red headed woodpeckers can be seen near the park office and picnic area!

Loaner Kits Available

Bird identification kits are great for seeing birds. Check at the office for details.

State Park Deer Hunts

There will be a deer hunt in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park on December 6 through December 7 for muzzleloader season. The park will be closed to the public and open only to hunters with a valid permit during the special permit hunt.

For more information: state parks during fall hunting season.

Last updated September 26, 2014

Park Notes

Be fascinated. Check out the naturalist programs and other activities scheduled at the park.

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


All trails are open to hiking.

Squirrels are active and can be in the treetops. Turkeys and deer can be seen from a distance. Come out to observe the Big Woods. Tracks are easy to spot along wet trails and Prairie Creek.

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.


Bird Checklist This is a PDF file. You will need Adobe Acrobat Reader to download it. Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

Birding is great! Feeding stations bring out the birds. Best viewing in the morning. Hummingbirds, chickadees, nuthatches, goldfinches, and several species of woodpeckers can be seen at the feeders. Watch for the occasional pileated woodpecker that visits when traffic is low. Overnight listen for barred owls calling. note: #1 Red-headed woodpeckers (and young of the year with grey heads)can be seen at the feeders and at the Visitor Center and throughout the picnic area. #2 Birding Etiquette: Listen to bird calls before arriving to familiarize yourself for identification. Avoid playing call tapes in the park as it creates stress for birds busy with daily duties. Thank you.

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:

Fall-Winter Saturday - Sunday, 9 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.