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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

Trails south of County Road 29 are currently closed due to poor conditions and storm damage. This includes: Fox, Basswood, Ironwood, Big Woods, and Maple trails.

The campground, dump station and shower building are all open for the season.

Please do not tie anything to trees in the park.

Staff may be out of the office and in the park. Please pay for firewood, camping and permits through self-service. Remember to put garbage and pet waste in the dumpster in the parking lot.

2016 state park mugs are here, featuring Itasca State Park for the 125 anniversary of state parks!

2016 Reservations changes

  • All campsites at this park are reservable.
  • Same-day reservations are now available.
  • If you need help making a reservation, call 866-857-2757.
  • For more details, read the FAQ.


All trails are open to hiking. See map at Visitor Center for best trails in spring. Please wear appropriate footwear for the spring season.

Wildflowers - Absolutely no picking of plant parts. Report those gathering illegally to park staff. We are seeing the leaves of Virginia Waterleaf, wild ginger, wood anemone, kidney-leaf buttercup, Wood betony, columbine, golden Alexander, wild geranium, strawberry, Jack-in-the Pulpit, violets and wild leek. Expect changes daily when weather is warm. Watch for updates as the season progresses. Posted 05-20-16

Note: Park Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Visitor Center hours vary weekdays.

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls is flowing. A day in the Big Woods is always a good day. Put spring visits on your list of outdoor adventures for kids - and kids at heart. Bring your camera.

Loaner Binocular Kits Available

Birds: Listen for cardinals and chickadees. Look for birds at Visitor Center feeders and throughout the park. Migration has started with robins, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, bluebirds, grackles, Bluebirds, Eastern Pewee, Song Sparrow, Fox Sparrow, Brown Creeper, ruby-crowned kinglet, tree swallow,cow birds, chipping sparrow, flickers, indigo bunting AND RED-HEADED WOODPECKERS.

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

(Updated July 15, 2016)

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

Hiking:All trails are open, north side trails best choice during wet spring conditions but with the dry weather the south trails are great also. Wear hiking/water boots.

Squirrels are active in the understory and can be in the treetops looking for food. Turkeys and deer can be seen from a distance. Chipmunks are out on warm spring days. Come explore the Big Woods.

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.

Birding is great! Feeding stations bring out the birds. Best viewing in the morning. 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. The Red-headed woodpeckers are back! Lots of Barred owls sightings lately during the day.

Spring birds Posted 5-20-16: Robins, Eastern Pewee, Wood Ducks, Killdeer, eastern meadowlarks, bluebirds, Red-winged blackbirds, grackles, song and fox sparrow, brown creeper, ruby crowned kinglet, cowbirds, tree swallow, flickers, indigo bunting and red-headed woodpeckers.

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.

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

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

email: nerstrand.statepark@state.mn.us

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.