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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!

Magnets and Medallions are back in stock! We've had a lot of people asking. Pair it up with a hiking stick or another logo item for holiday gift giving.

Campground opens April 1. 2016. Make your reservations.


All trails are open to hiking until we get sufficient snow to groom for X-country skiing. Please wear appropriate footwear for trail hiking.

Note: Sunset is around 5 p.m. Plan hikes accordingly and bring headlamps or flashlights as needed.

Note: Park Hours are 8 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Visitor Center hours vary weekdays.

Winter weekend hours (Sat-Sun) generally 9-4 pm as staff availability allows.

Hidden Falls

Hidden Falls changes with the seasons! Recent rains result in more water over the falls. Upcoming freezing temperatures will produce fabulous ice formations particularly during the first ice then builds throughout the winter. Timing a visit after a precipitation event means more water over the falls - though a day in the Big Woods is always a good day. Put winter 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.

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

Deer hunt in December

There will be a deer hunt in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park on December 5 through December 6 for muzzleloader season. The park will be open only to deer hunters with a valid permit during the special permit hunt.

For more information: state parks during fall hunting season.

(Updated Oct. 31, 2015)

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

Hiking:All trails are open. Wear hiking boots.

Squirrels are active in the understory and can be in the treetops. Turkeys and deer can be seen from a distance. 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. Even in the daytime listen for barred owls calling.

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, 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

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.