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!

2016 State Park mugs are Here! They feature Itasca State Park for parks 125 Anniversary.

Found: Nokia phone on 2-6-16 Candlelight Event. Call if it is yours.


We will not be grooming ski trails, but you may ski or snowshoe anywhere in the park except on trails groomed for snowmobiling.

For more information: Visit ParkFinder or Winter Activities Guide for an overview of winter recreation opportunities available statewide.

Campground opens April 1. 2016. Note the change! Be advised that we are going to 100% reservable reservations - no more "First Come" sites. Please help us implement this cost saving measure in state parks. Make your reservations early.


All trails are open to hiking. When we get sufficient snow for snowmobile trail grooming hikers and snowshoers are asked to use the north trails or the Maple Trail. Please wear appropriate footwear for the season.

Note: Sunset is around 5:30 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 is frozen-frozen! Recent cold weather and snow adorns this area with a blanket of ice and snow. You will see changes daily as fabulous ice formations continue to form, growing through the season. 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.

(Updated Feb. 12, 2016)

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/snow boots.

Squirrels are active in the understory and can be in the treetops looking for food and trying to stay warm. Turkeys and deer can be seen from a distance. That 10-point buck survived the hunting season. Does hang together this time of year and three to seven does seen together this past week. A chipmunk posed for a Jan 14 picture outside the Visitor Center today. 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. Visitors seeing them on the trail. Soon to be nesting, they are defining territory so heads up.

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


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.