Visit an old-growth forest

Minnesota is home to many types of old growth forests. Click on the map below to find out more these intriguing variation of old growth forests and how you can visit them.

Highslide JSitascalostsavannanemadjitettegouchegeorgespringwolsfeldsakatahtownsend

Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary Scientific and Natural Area

Old growth Forest Types

  • Red Pine
  • White Pine
  • Northern Hardwoods
  • Lowland Hardwoods

Description

The SNA is located along the western side of Lake Itasca and protects roughly two miles of undeveloped shoreline along the lake. A mosaic of eighteen native plant communities occupy the site, dominated by fire-dependent red pine-white pine forest communities. The SNA contains 848 acres of designated old-growth forest in 16 stands. Among these, a 1998 inventory documented a 190-year-old red pine stand and 200-year-old white pine stand.

  • Experience the old-growth here in a unique way—by snowshoe. Cross Lake Itasca then trek your way into towering pines and hardwoods forests.
  • Bike or drive the 16-mile Wilderness Drive Loop where you have a good chance to see wildlife.

Find out more about Itasca Wilderness Sanctuary Scientific and Natural Area

Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area

Old growth Forest Type

  • Red Pine
  • White Pine

Description

The Lost 40 SNA owes its old growth pine forests to an error that occurred during the Public Land Survey in 1882. As the story goes, loggers overlooked the pines because surveyors mistakenly mapped the area as a wetland near Coddington Lake, which is actually located a half-mile to the southeast. Surveyors corrected the error in 1960. Shortly thereafter, the area was incorporated into Big Fork State Forest and its old trees have since endured.

  • Stroll the loop trail at the Lost 40 to experience the old-growth red and white pines, some up to 250 years old. Minnesota's state red pine "Big Tree Champion" is found here.
  • A portion of this site is within a Unique Biological Area of the Chippewa National Forest. The Lost 40 is co-managed by the DNR and U.S. Forest Service.

Find out more about Lost 40 Scientific and Natural Area

Savanna State Forest

Old Growth Forest Types

  • Black Ash
  • Upland White Cedar
  • Northern Hardwood
  • Oak
  • Red Pine
  • White Pine

Description

Savanna State Forest comprises a mixture of hilly hardwood terrain and wild grass meadows, and boasts the mighty Mississippi along its western border. Look for aspen, maple, basswood, birch, black spruce, tamarack, and cedar. The forest also claims Savanna Portage, the famously rough and swampy six-mile portage linking the west Savanna River of the Mississippi River system with the east Savanna River, which eventually empties into the Great Lakes.

Map and location of Savanna State Forest

Nemadji State Forest

Old growth Forest Type

  • Black Ash
  • Lowland Hardwood
  • Northern Hardwood
  • Oak

Description

The terrain of Nemadji State Forest varies from gently rolling with large swamp areas in the south to steep stream valleys and elongated swamps protruding into the forest in the northeast. The northern third of the forest drains into the Lake Superior Basin-Nemadji River Watershed, while the southern two-thirds drain into the St. Croix River Basin. Much of the original white spruce, cedar, and white and red pined were
logged and floated down the Nemadji, Willow, and Tamarack rivers to Stillwater, Minnesota and Superior, Wisconsin in the early 1800s. After the forest was logged, numerous fires burned through the cutover land. Settlers then tried to farm the area, but discovered the land was better suited for trees than crops.

Map and location of Nemadji State Forest

Tettegouche State Park

Old growth Forest Type

  • Northern Hardwoods
  • Upland White Cedar
  • Black Ash
  • Oak

Description

This park contains 294 acres of northern hardwoods, 142 acres of upland white cedar, 74 acres of black ash, and 94 acres of oak forest. Small patches of old white pine also are found here, but do not by themselves constitute old growth forest. The yellow birch in the park is roughly 290 years old, the sugar maple 225, and the white cedar 220 years old. Fall color is spectacular and can be viewed from the ridgetop overlooks along the Superior Hiking Trail. Black bears congregate here in the fall to eat acorns, hazelnuts, and berries.

Map and location of Tettegouche State Park

George Crosby Manitou State Park

Old growth Forest Type

  • Northern Hardwoods
  • Upland White Cedar

Description

This state park contains a 166-acre northern hardwoods forest and a 196-acre upland white cedar forest. Ancient trees grow here: some yellow birch trees are 400 years old, while white cedar trees can reach 300 years and sugar maple 200 years.

Map and location of park

Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods Scientific and Natural Area

Old growth Forest Type

  • Northern Hardwoods

Description

Conditions here along the north shore are well suited to northern hardwood forest, with a relatively humid, lake-moderated climate. This site was acquired for SNA designation to protect its rare, 115-acre stand of old-growth northern hardwoods dominated by sugar maple and upland white cedar forest and rare species closely tied to these old forests.

  • Get out your adventure boots to hike through this old forest off-trail. The sugar maples here are particularly brilliant in the fall.
  • Catch a glimpse of songbirds. Some, like the black-throated blue warbler, nest in these old-growth northern hardwoods near Lake Superior.

Find out more about Spring Beauty Northern Hardwoods Scientific and Natural Area

Wolsfeld Woods Scientific and Natural Area

Old growth Forest Types

  • Northern Hardwoods

Description

Wolsfeld Woods protects mature, old growth examples of three distinct native plant community forest types. The survival of the forest here can at least in part be credited to the site's hilly topography as early homesteaders found it impractical to till for farming, opting instead to establish a maple syruping operation that continued from the 1880s into the 1940s. As a result, one of the best remaining examples of the Big Woods forest community can be found at this very site, hosting some of Minnesota's largest individual sugar maple trees.

  • Enjoy the peace and serenity along the trails at this remnant of the original “Big Woods” less than half an hour from downtown Minneapolis.
  • The variety of mature, rich forest and unbroken forest canopy next to Wolsfeld Lake provides for exceptional birding throughout the year.

Find out more about Wolsfeld Woods Scientific and Natural Area

Sakatah Lake State Park

Old growth Forest Types

  • Oak

Description

Located just a few miles east of Minnesota's Prairie Region, frequent fires shaped this old growth forest. As a result, ancient oaks are the most common trees, and prairie plants grow along the area's roadsides and railroad lines.

Map and location of Sakatah Lake State Park

Townsend Woods Scientific and Natural Area

Old growth Forest Types

  • Northern Hardwoods

Description

Townsend Woods was designated an SNA to preserve a high quality remnant of Big Woods sugar maple forest, a native plant community ranked as imperiled in Minnesota. Aside from small-scale maple sugaring and some selective cutting of elm, it is essentially undisturbed. The forest has an open aspect, with young maples in the understory but few shrubs. Large red oak and sugar maple dominate in the canopy, joined by basswood, elm and ironwood in the subcanopy.

  • Grab your camera and capture some beautiful spring wildflower displays in this small, but diverse old-growth hardwood forest. Listen for frogs, toads, and birds in the surrounding wetlands.
  • Be aware that reaching the woods requires a half-mile long trek in from the parking lot, and the site has no maintained trails.

Find out more about Townsend Woods Scientific and Natural Area