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

    Thew first of the Dwarf Trout Lilies will be blooming this weekend!
  • Hello Spring! Expect signs of spring and a mix of trail conditions on the trails as the weather warms. First Hepatica reported 04-01-17 on Fawn Trail. Scarlet Cup Fungus, more to discover! As of 4-21-17, hepatica in all colors!,bloodroot, spring beauty, Marsh Marigold, Wild Ginger,False Rue Anemone, Swamp buttercup. In bud: a lot of False Rue Anemone, Declining Trillium, trout lily, May Apple, Blue Cohosh, Troutlily leaves with a few buds. Leaves of lousewort, Virginia Waterleaf and leaks,early meadow rue and blue cohosh. Hidden Falls is flowing. 04-21-17.
  • Ironwood Trail: Be aware there are several downed trees along the route.
  • The campground opens April 1 under rustic conditions. On May 6 the dump station, shower building and picnic shelter restroom facilities will open for the season.

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

(Updated April 02, 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.


Spring sightings: Robins, RWBlackbirds, Kestrels, bluebirds, killdeer, sandhill cranes overhead, Northern Shrike, brown creeper, kinglets, Eastern pheobe, fox & chipping sparrow. Probably more species. 04-14-17 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.