Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Wilkie Unit








U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service




The Wilkie Unit is one of eight units that make up the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It lies on the south bank of the Minnesota River in an outer Twin Cities suburb. North of the river is the Bloomington Ferry Unit. This site is part of a much larger area that has been designated as the Lower Minnesota River Valley Important Bird Area (IBA). The Wilkie Unit is an important stopover for migrating waterfowl, including Tundra Swans and American White Pelicans. The largest Great Blue Heron rookery in Minnesota is on this unit. A hiking trail passes through bottomland forest along the bank of the Minnesota River.
















Bloomington Ferry and Wilkie Units Trail Map


Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates




2,100 acres




N44 47.732, W93 25.194




Sunrise to Sunset for approved activities, including federal holidays




No fee

No National Wildlife Refuge in Minnesota charges a fee


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

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          Scott County  
          Metro Area  

Hiking Trails


The Fischer Lake Trail (Minnesota River Trail on the printed map) is accessed from the paved Minnesota River Valley State Trail 0.3 mile west of the parking area. There is a small parking lot at that spot with room for a few cars. The natural surface trail follows an administrative road north 0.6 miles to the Minnesota River and an intersection of two trails. The trail to the right of the intersection is a 0.9 mile footpath that leads east along the river and eventually loops back to the main trail. The north leg of the loop is overgrown in spots. The west and south legs of this loop are on a raised berm surrounding a shallow man-made pool. To the left of the intersection the Blue Lake Trail follows an administrative road along the river west 0.9 mile to a sharp bend in the river. A downed tree at this point blocks the road. The refuge west of the Fischer Lake Trail, including the Blue Lake Trail, is closed to the public March 1 to August 31 to protect nesting great blue herons.

The Minnesota River Valley State Trail (“State Corridor Trail” on the printed map) is a paved bike trail. It leads from the parking lot east to the Bloomington Ferry Unit parking lot and west to the Minnesota River Trail.




West of US 169: Archery Only: Deer & Upland Game

East of US 169, West of Eagle Creek: Firearms & Archery: Waterfowl, Archery Only: Deer & Upland Game

East of US 169, West of Eagle Creek: No hunting

See Hunting - Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge for details.


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

  Ecological Section    

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

  Ecological Subsection    

Big Woods

  Land Type Association    

Le Sueur Alluvial Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Bulrush Marsh (Northern)

Dry Barrens Oak Savanna (Southern): Oak Subtype

Sedge Meadow

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest

  * Source: The Minnesota Biological Survey, Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, Division of Ecological Resources      

Natural Features


Bottomland forest, marsh, three lakes.






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Refuge Entrance

    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Wilkie Unit   Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Wilkie Unit  


    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Wilkie Unit      

Fischer Lake Trail

    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Wilkie Unit      

Blue Lake Trail

    Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Wilkie Unit      






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Eight bird species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:


Horned Grebe (Podiceps auritus)

Special Concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Forster’s Tern (Sterna forsteri)

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Lark Sparrow (Chondestes grammacus)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)

Trumpeter Swan (Cygnus buccinator)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Birds List

eBird Field Checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Double-crested Cormorant (Phalacrocorax auritus)

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Great Egret (Ardea alba)

Pied-billed Grebe (Podilymbus podiceps)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)


Bald Eagle

Blue Jay

Canada Goose




One fish species with conservation status in Minnesota have been seen here:

Special Concern

blue sucker (Cycleptus elongatus)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fishes List


Fungi and Lichens


Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Shaggy Mane (Coprinus comatus)

  Shaggy Mane  

Insects and Arachnids


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List


cabbage white (Pieris rapae)

Carolina grasshopper (Dissosteira carolina)

common green darner (Anax junius)

dog day cicada (Neotibicen canicularis)

goldenrod spindle-gall moth (Gnorimoschema gallaesolidaginis)

maple spindle-gall mite (Vasates aceriscrumena)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

seven-spotted lady beetle (Coccinella septempunctata)

spotted pink lady beetle (Coleomegilla maculata)


common green darner





Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Mammals List


plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  whitetail deer  



One plant species with conservation status in Minnesota is found here:


hair-like beak-rush (Rhynchospora capillacea)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Bulrush Marsh (Northern) MRn93a

Dry Barrens Oak Savanna (Southern): Oak Subtype UPs14a2

Sedge Meadow WMn82b

Silver Maple - (Virginia Creeper) Floodplain Forest FFs68a



absinthe wormwood (Artemisia absinthium)

alfalfa (Medicago sativa ssp. sativa)

American burnweed (Erechtites hieraciifolius var. hieraciifolius)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American stinging nettle (Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis)

asparagus (Asparagus officinalis)

Balkan catchfly (Silene csereii)

barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli)

bittersweet nightshade (Solanum dulcamara)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bristly greenbrier (Smilax tamnoides)

bur cucumber (Sicyos angulatus)

Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

Canada wildrye (Elymus canadensis)

Canadian clearweed (Pilea pumila)

Canadian horseweed (Erigeron canadensis)

Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common cinquefoil (Potentilla simplex)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common motherwort (Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common threeseed mercury (Acalypha rhomboidea)

cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum)

curly-cup gumweed (Grindelia squarrosa)

curlytop knotweed (Persicaria lapathifolia)

dwarf false indigo (Amorpha nana)

eastern black nightshade (Solanum emulans)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

field thistle (Cirsium discolor)

giant foxtail (Setaria faberi)

giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida)

gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

green amaranth (Amaranthus hybridus)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

green foxtail (Setaria viridis var. viridis)

hairy cupgrass (Eriochloa villosa)

hairy four o’clock (Mirabilis albida)

hairy vetch (Vicia villosa ssp. villosa)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

jack pine (Pinus banksiana)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium)

Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)

nodding bur marigold (Bidens cernua)

northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

peachleaf willow (Salix amygdaloides)

Pennsylvania smartweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

prairie cordgrass (Sporobolus michauxianus)

prairie ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata ssp. fasciculata)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)

purple-stem beggarticks (Bidens connata)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

red mulberry (Morus rubra)

red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

redroot amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus)

rough cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)

sandbar willow (Salix interior)

scouring rush horsetail (Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine)

sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

slender willow (Salix petiolaris)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

southern blue flag (Iris virginica var. shrevei)

spotted knapweed (Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos)

spotted lady’s thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

velvet-leaf (Abutilon theophrasti)

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia)

weeping willow (Salix x sepulcralis)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

white mulberry (Morus alba)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

woodland horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila ssp. pumila)

yellow nutsedge (Cyperus esculentus var. leptostachyus)

yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta)


Abutilon theophrasti (velvet-leaf)

Acalypha rhomboidea (common threeseed mercury)

Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Amaranthus hybridus (green amaranth)

Amaranthus retroflexus (redroot amaranth)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)

Amorpha nana (dwarf false indigo)

Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Artemisia absinthium (absinthe wormwood)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Asparagus officinalis (asparagus)

Berteroa incana (hoary alyssum)

Bidens cernua (nodding bur marigold)

Bidens connata (purple-stem beggarticks)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)

Centaurea stoebe ssp. micranthos (spotted knapweed)

Cirsium discolor (field thistle)

Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (red osier dogwood)

Cyperus esculentus var. leptostachyus (yellow nutsedge)

Echinochloa crus-galli (barnyard grass)

Elymus canadensis (Canada wildrye)

Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine (scouring rush horsetail)

Equisetum sylvaticum (woodland horsetail)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Erechtites hieraciifolius var. hieraciifolius (American burnweed)

Erigeron canadensis (Canadian horseweed)

Eriochloa villosa (hairy cupgrass)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)

Grindelia squarrosa (curly-cup gumweed)

Iris virginica var. shrevei (southern blue flag)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Laportea canadensis (Canadian woodnettle)

Leonurus cardiaca ssp. cardiaca (common motherwort)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)

Medicago sativa ssp. sativa (alfalfa)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)

Mirabilis albida (hairy four o’clock)

Morus alba (white mulberry)

Morus rubra (red mulberry)

Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed)

Persicaria lapathifolia (curlytop knotweed)

Persicaria maculosa (spotted lady’s thumb)

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania smartweed)

Pilea pumila (Canadian clearweed)

Pinus banksiana (jack pine)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla simplex (common cinquefoil)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Salix amygdaloides (peachleaf willow)

Salix interior (sandbar willow)

Salix petiolaris (slender willow)

Salix x sepulcralis (weeping willow)

Schizachyrium scoparium (little bluestem)

Setaria faberi (giant foxtail)

Setaria pumila ssp. pumila (yellow foxtail)

Setaria viridis var. viridis (green foxtail)

Sicyos angulatus (bur cucumber)

Silene csereii (Balkan catchfly)

Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum (cup plant)

Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbrier)

Solanum dulcamara (bittersweet nightshade)

Solanum emulans (eastern black nightshade)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Sporobolus michauxianus (prairie cordgrass)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides (white heath aster)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Urtica gracilis ssp. gracilis (American stinging nettle)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Vernonia fasciculata ssp. fasciculata (prairie ironweed)

Vicia villosa ssp. villosa (hairy vetch)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Xanthium strumarium (rough cocklebur)

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)



bittersweet nightshade

black raspberry

Canada moonseed

Canadian woodnettle

common evening primrose

common mullein

eastern redcedar

field thistle

hairy four o’clock

hairy vetch

hedge bindweed

Morrow’s honeysuckle

prairie ironweed

prairie rose

red clover

red osier dogwood

smooth sumac

southern blue flag

spreading dogbane

western poison ivy

wild geranium

wild grape





  common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)   common snapping turtle  














Important Nesting Area

The Wilkie Unit is included in the Lower Minnesota River Valley IBA. The largest Great Blue Heron rookery in Minnesota is on this unit. The rookery supports approximately 600 nests, about half Great Blue Herons and half Great Egrets, as well as some Black-crowned Night Herons. Northern Bald Eagles also nest here. In 2003, about 1,000 Tundra Swans were seen here during migration. Large numbers of American White Pelicans stop over during their fall migration.



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