Nerstrand Big Woods State Park






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Minnesota DNR




















all season map


Printable Map(s) with GPS coordinates




2,884 acres statutory, 1,815 owned




9700 170th Street East
Nerstrand, MN 55053

Visitor Center
N44 20.532, W93 6.325




Daily from 8 a.m. until 10 p.m.




Daily park permit: $7

Annual park permit: $35


Driving Directions

  Area and County  

Get driving directions from Google Maps to this destination from any address, and send those directions to your phone.

          Rice County  
          Southeast Minnesota  

Hiking Trails


11 miles




No hunting


Ecological Classification

  Ecological Classification  
  Ecological Province    

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

  Ecological Section    

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal

  Ecological Subsection    

Oak Savanna

  Land Type Association    

Hayfield Till Plain


Native Plant Communities*


Black Ash - (Red Maple) Seepage Swamp

Elm - Ash - Basswood Terrace Forest

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

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

Natural Features








Visitor Photos

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Jaxon Lane


Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest in early September

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Wayne Rasmussen

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      



Park Entrance

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Hidden Falls

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Hidden Falls Trail

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Fawn Trail

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Prairie Creek

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      



Hidden Falls

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Hidden Falls Trail

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Fawn Trail

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

White Oak Trail

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Prairie Creek

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park      

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest

    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
    Nerstrand Big Woods State Park   Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  



  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
Michael David Myers
  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  
  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
Brett Whaley
  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park  

Best place ever for ephemral flowers. Have never experienced anything like it. Only been at it for three years though...

  Nestrand Big Woods State Park
Richard Sanders
  Nestrand Big Woods State Park  

Nestrand Big Woods State Park

  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Minnesota

Published on Oct 29, 2013

Favorite Sites: 3, 14, 15, 19, 20, 22, 29, 37, 41, 48, 50




Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
SwagOnTheTrail 82

May 17, 2021


  Hiking to a FROZEN WATERFALL at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park in Minnesota! - S3:E4
The Escape Shroom Perspective

Feb 24, 2022

#hiking #waterfall #frozen #MN #Minnesota State Parks #NerstrandBigWoodsStatePark

Join us as we hike to the frozen Hidden Falls at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park in Minnesota!

After a long cold snap, we took advantage of a little bit of a warmer day to explore and hike at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park. Warmer in this case being 22 degrees with a wind chill of about 5-8 degrees. It wasn't too bad once we got into the woods, but as you can hear in the video there was still a lot of wind.

Speaking of wind, sorry about the audio on this one. Still figuring out how well the new camera works under different conditions. Needless to say, I ordered wind screens right after I edited this video!

The hike to the falls and back was only about 1.5 miles with only a little elevation change.

From the park website: "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, hike, snowshoe, or snowmobile the trails through picturesque woods." -

We hope you enjoy this video! If you did, please hit that thumbs up button! Subscribe to our channel to see more hiking videos in the future! Camping videos will be starting again soon!

  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, Nerstrand, MN
KABI Treks

Aug 16, 2021

Today's visit took us south of the Twin Cities to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. While there, we explored the picnic grounds, hiking trails, and checked out the main attraction; Hidden Falls.

  Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Uploaded on Oct 20, 2011

Staying at Group Camp C for one night with the St. Olaf Camping Club.

Artist: Simon And Garfunkel
Track: Kathy's Song

  Camping at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Minnesota

Published on Sep 12, 2013

No description available.

  Hidden Falls Final June 25th, 2011

Uploaded on Jun 26, 2011

Hidden Falls from Nerstrand Big Woods State Park just outside of Northfield, Mn. Nice place to hike and is close to home. With all the rain this spring the falls is looking great.




Visitor Sightings

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Gerry Garcia


Fungi and Lichens

  Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom (Omphalotus illudens)   Jack-o’-Lantern Mushroom  

Kirk Nelson



  common snapping turtle (Chelydra serpentina)   common snapping turtle  

Wayne Rasmussen



  American toad (Anaxyrus americanus)   American toad  



Scarlet Tanager (Piranga olivacea)

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

  Scarlet Tanager  



jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

spring cress (Cardamine bulbosa)

wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

  spring cress  
















Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Amphibians and Reptiles List

  American toad (Anaxyrus americanus)   American toad  



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


Henslow’s Sparrow (Centronyx henslowii)

Special Concern

Acadian Flycatcher (Empidonax virescens)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Cerulean Warbler (Setophaga cerulea)

Franklin’s Gull (Leucophaeus pipixcan)

Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)

Purple Martin (Progne subis)

Red-shouldered Hawk (Buteo lineatus)


Minnesota DNR Bird Checklist

eBird Field Checklist (Complete)

eBird Field Checklist (Prairie Restoration Area)


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

Barred Owl (Strix varia)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Brown-headed Cowbird (Molothrus ater)

Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)

Downy Woodpecker (Dryobates pubescens)

Eastern Wood-peewee (Contopus virens)

Gray Catbird (Dumetella carolinensis)

Hairy Woodpecker (Leuconotopicus villosus)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Ovenbird (Seiurus aurocapilla)

Pileated Woodpecker (Dryocopus pileatus)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Red-headed Woodpecker (Melanerpes erythrocephalus)

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Wild Turkey (Meleagris gallopavo)

Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (Sphyrapicus varius)


Blue Jay

Brown-headed Cowbird

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal

White-breasted Nuthatch

Wild Turkey




Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fishes List


Fungi and Lichens


One fungi and lichen species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:


brittlestem (Psathyrella cystidiosa)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Fungi List

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Lichens List


Black Knot (Apiosporina morbosa)

Crown Rust (Puccinia coronata)

  Black Knot  

Insects and Arachnids


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Insects List


blue-winged wasp (Scolia dubia)

forest tent caterpillar moth (Malacosoma disstria)

lime nail gall mite (Eriophyes tiliae)

plum finger gall mite (Eriophyes emarginatae)

  lime nail gall mite  



eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

northern raccoon (Procyon lotor)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

  eastern gray squirrel  



Nine plant species with conservation status in Minnesota are found here:


butternut (Juglans cinerea)

Minnesota dwarf trout lily (Erythronium propullans)


bare-stemmed tick trefoil (Desmodium nudiflorum)

Special Concern

American ginseng (Panax quinquefolius)

late hawthorn (Crataegus calpodendron)

narrow-leaved vervain (Verbena simplex)

rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium)

snow trillium (Trillium nivale)

yellow pimpernel (Taenidia integerrima)


Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas and Minnesota Biological Survey Vegetation Releves Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Black Ash - (Red Maple) Seepage Swamp WFn57a

Elm - Ash - Basswood Terrace Forest FFs59c

Sugar Maple - Basswood - (Bitternut Hickory) Forest MHs39a



Allegheny blackberry (Rubus allegheniensis)

American basswood (Tilia americana var. americana)

American black currant (Ribes americanum)

American cow parsnip (Heracleum maximum)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

American highbush cranberry (Viburnum opulus var. americanum)

American hophornbeam (Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana)

American red raspberry (Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus)

bigtooth aspen (Populus grandidentata)

bitternut hickory (Carya cordiformis)

black ash (Fraxinus nigra)

black cherry (Prunus serotina var. serotina)

black medick (Medicago lupulina)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

bland sweet cicely (Osmorhiza claytonii)

bloodroot (Sanguinaria canadensis)

blue cohosh (Caulophyllum thalictroides)

Blue Ridge carrionflower (Smilax lasioneura)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bristly buttercup (Ranunculus hispidus)

bur oak (Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa)

Canada mayflower (Maianthemum canadense)

Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canadian honewort (Cryptotaenia canadensis)

Canadian wild ginger (Asarum canadense)

Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

cleavers (Galium aparine)

clustered black snakeroot (Sanicula odorata)

common agrimony (Agrimonia gryposepala)

common blue violet (Viola sororia)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common burdock (Arctium minus)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common false Solomon’s seal (Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

cup plant (Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum)

cut-leaved toothwort (Cardamine concatenata)

drooping trillium (Trillium flexipes)

Dutchman’s breeches (Dicentra cucullaria)

early meadow-rue (Thalictrum dioicum)

eastern false rue anemone (Enemion biternatum)

eastern prickly gooseberry (Ribes cynosbati)

eastern star sedge (Carex radiata)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

fragrant bedstraw (Galium triflorum)

garlic mustard (Alliaria petiolata)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

gray dogwood (Cornus racemosa)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata var. bracteata)

interrupted fern (Claytosmunda claytoniana)

jack-in-the-pulpit (Arisaema triphyllum)

kidney-leaved buttercup (Ranunculus abortivus)

large-flowered bellwort (Uvularia grandiflora)

large-flowered trillium (Trillium grandiflorum)

lowland hog peanut (Amphicarpaea bracteata var. comosa)

Maryland black snakeroot (Sanicula marilandica)

May-apple (Podophyllum peltatum)

Minnesota dwarf trout lily (Erythronium propullans)

Morrow’s honeysuckle (Lonicera morrowii)

northern bedstraw (Galium boreale)

northern lady fern (Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum)

northern maidenhair (Adiantum pedatum)

northern pin oak (Quercus ellipsoidalis)

northern prickly ash (Zanthoxylum americanum)

northern red oak (Quercus rubra)

ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica)

pagoda dogwood (Cornus alternifolia)

Philadelphia fleabane (Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

purple meadow-rue (Thalictrum dasycarpum)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red baneberry (Actaea rubra ssp. rubra)

red clover (Trifolium pratense)

red elderberry (Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa)

rosy sedge (Carex rosea)

round-leaved dogwood (Cornus rugosa)

rue anemone (Thalictrum thalictroides)

scouring rush horsetail (Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine)

sensitive fern (Onoclea sensibilis)

sharp-lobed hepatica (Anemone acutiloba)

shining bedstraw (Galium concinnum)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

slippery elm (Ulmus rubra)

smooth Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum)

smooth yellow violet (Viola pubescens var. scabriuscula)

sugar maple (Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum)

swamp betony (Pedicularis lanceolata)

touch-me-not (Impatiens sp.)

upright carrionflower (Smilax ecirrhata)

Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia)

Virginia spring beauty (Claytonia virginica var. virginica)

Virginia waterleaf (Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum)

western bracken fern (Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white clover (Trifolium repens ssp. repens)

white mulberry (Morus alba)

white oak (Quercus alba)

white rattlesnake root (Nabalus albus)

white trout lily (Erythronium albidum)

wild blue phlox (Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii)

wild columbine (Aquilegia canadensis)

wild geranium (Geranium maculatum)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild leek (Allium tricoccum)

wild sarsaparilla (Aralia nudicaulis)

wild yam (Dioscorea villosa)

wood anemone (Anemone quinquefolia var. quinquefolia)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow marsh marigold (Caltha palustris var. palustris)

yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta)

zigzag goldenrod (Solidago flexicaulis)


Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Acer saccharum ssp. saccharum (sugar maple)

Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Actaea rubra ssp. rubra (red baneberry)

Adiantum pedatum (northern maidenhair)

Agrimonia gryposepala (common agrimony)

Alliaria petiolata (garlic mustard)

Allium tricoccum (wild leek)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Amphicarpaea bracteata var. bracteata (hog peanut)

Amphicarpaea bracteata var. comosa (lowland hog peanut)

Anemone acutiloba (sharp-lobed hepatica)

Anemone quinquefolia var. quinquefolia (wood anemone)

Aquilegia canadensis (wild columbine)

Aralia nudicaulis (wild sarsaparilla)

Arctium minus (common burdock)

Arisaema triphyllum (jack-in-the-pulpit)

Asarum canadense (Canadian wild ginger)

Athyrium filix-femina var. angustum (northern lady fern)

Caltha palustris var. palustris (yellow marsh marigold)

Cardamine concatenata (cut-leaved toothwort)

Carex radiata (eastern star sedge)

Carex rosea (rosy sedge)

Carya cordiformis (bitternut hickory)

Caulophyllum thalictroides (blue cohosh)

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)

Claytonia virginica var. virginica (Virginia spring beauty)

Cornus alternifolia (pagoda dogwood)

Cornus racemosa (gray dogwood)

Cornus rugosa (round-leaved dogwood)

Cryptotaenia canadensis (Canadian honewort)

Dicentra cucullaria (Dutchman’s breeches)

Dioscorea villosa (wild yam)

Enemion biternatum (eastern false rue anemone)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum hyemale ssp. affine (scouring rush horsetail)

Erigeron philadelphicus var. philadelphicus (Philadelphia fleabane)

Erythronium albidum (white trout lily)

Erythronium propullans (Minnesota dwarf trout lily)

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry)

Fraxinus nigra (black ash)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galium aparine (cleavers)

Galium boreale (northern bedstraw)

Galium concinnum (shining bedstraw)

Galium triflorum (fragrant bedstraw)

Geranium maculatum (wild geranium)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Heracleum maximum (American cow parsnip)

Hydrophyllum virginianum var. virginianum (Virginia waterleaf)

Impatiens sp. (touch-me-not)

Laportea canadensis (Canadian woodnettle)

Lonicera morrowii (Morrow’s honeysuckle)

Maianthemum canadense (Canada mayflower)

Maianthemum racemosum var. racemosum (common false Solomon’s seal)

Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (ostrich fern)

Medicago lupulina (black medick)

Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)

Morus alba (white mulberry)

Nabalus albus (white rattlesnake root)

Onoclea sensibilis (sensitive fern)

Osmorhiza claytonii (bland sweet cicely)

Claytosmunda claytoniana (interrupted fern)

Ostrya virginiana var. virginiana (American hophornbeam)

Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus quinquefolia (Virginia creeper)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Pedicularis lanceolata (swamp betony)

Phlox divaricata ssp. laphamii (wild blue phlox)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Podophyllum peltatum (May-apple)

Polygonatum biflorum var. commutatum (smooth Solomon’s seal)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus grandidentata (bigtooth aspen)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Prunus serotina var. serotina (black cherry)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Pteridium aquilinum var. latiusculum (western bracken fern)

Quercus alba (white oak)

Quercus ellipsoidalis (northern pin oak)

Quercus macrocarpa var. macrocarpa (bur oak)

Quercus rubra (northern red oak)

Ranunculus abortivus (kidney-leaved buttercup)

Ranunculus hispidus (bristly buttercup)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Ribes americanum (American black currant)

Ribes cynosbati (eastern prickly gooseberry)

Rubus allegheniensis (Allegheny blackberry)

Rubus idaeus ssp. strigosus (American red raspberry)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Sambucus racemosa var. racemosa (red elderberry)

Sanguinaria canadensis (bloodroot)

Sanicula marilandica (Maryland black snakeroot)

Sanicula odorata (clustered black snakeroot)

Silphium perfoliatum var. perfoliatum (cup plant)

Smilax ecirrhata (upright carrionflower)

Smilax lasioneura (Blue Ridge carrionflower)

Solidago flexicaulis (zigzag goldenrod)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Thalictrum dasycarpum (purple meadow-rue)

Thalictrum dioicum (early meadow-rue)

Thalictrum thalictroides (rue anemone)

Tilia americana var. americana (American basswood)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Trifolium pratense (red clover)

Trifolium repens ssp. repens (white clover)

Trillium flexipes (drooping trillium)

Trillium grandiflorum (large-flowered trillium)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Ulmus rubra (slippery elm)

Uvularia grandiflora (large-flowered bellwort)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Viburnum opulus var. americanum (American highbush cranberry)

Viola pubescens var. scabriuscula (smooth yellow violet)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zanthoxylum americanum (northern prickly ash)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)


American black currant

American cow parsnip

American highbush cranberry

black cherry

black raspberry

blue cohosh

bur oak (var. macrocarpa)

Canada mayflower


common blue violet

common false Solomon’s seal

cup plant

eastern false rue anemone

eastern prickly gooseberry

golden alexanders

ground ivy

large-flowered trillium


Morrow’s honeysuckle

northern prickly ash

red baneberry

red clover

rue anemone

sharp-lobed hepatica

Virginia spring beauty

Virginia waterleaf

white clover

white trout lily

wild columbine

wild geranium

wood anemone

yellow marsh marigold


























































































Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is the only state park where Minnesota dwarf trout lily can be found.

Last Updated:

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