nerstrand-big woods state park

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park: Explore Minnesota

Welcome to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, a true gem among the state parks in Minnesota. Known for its natural beauty and offering a plethora of outdoor activities, this park is a haven for nature enthusiasts. With its stunning landscapes and abundant wildlife, a visit to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is an experience you won’t want to miss.

Key Takeaways:

  • Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is a picturesque state park in Minnesota.
  • It offers a wide range of outdoor activities and stunning natural beauty.
  • With its temperate hardwood forest and diverse wildlife, it’s a paradise for nature lovers.
  • The park is home to the Hidden Falls, a must-see 20-foot limestone waterfall.
  • Explore the park’s numerous hiking trails and enjoy the breathtaking views and wildflowers.

Essential Information

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

In this section, I will provide you with essential information about Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park. From park highlights and accommodations to services and facilities, as well as a brief overview of the park’s history, this information will help you plan your visit to this beautiful state park.

Park Highlights

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is famous for its stunning natural beauty and offers visitors a range of attractions to explore. One of the main highlights of the park is the Hidden Falls, a picturesque 20-foot limestone waterfall nestled in the woods. The park also boasts several scenic trails, including the Hidden Falls Trail and the Trout Lily Boardwalk, which offer breathtaking views of Prairie Creek and opportunities to spot a variety of wildflowers.


If you’re planning to stay overnight, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park has camping facilities available. The park offers drive-in campsites, as well as group campsites for larger gatherings. Please note that advanced reservations are recommended, especially during peak seasons. Additionally, nearby hotels and cabins are available for those who prefer a more comfortable stay.

Services and Facilities

To ensure a pleasant visit, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park provides various services and facilities. The park has restroom facilities located near the Visitor Center and picnic areas for visitors to enjoy a meal amidst the natural surroundings. There are also picnic shelters available for reservation, making it an ideal location for gatherings and events.

Park History

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park has a rich history dating back to the early 20th century. The park was established in 1945 with the primary goal of preserving and showcasing the unique Big Woods ecosystem. This temperate hardwood forest was once prominent in central Minnesota but has significantly diminished over the years due to urban development. Today, the park serves as a sanctuary for the remaining Big Woods and allows visitors to appreciate its beauty and significance.

Now that you have a better understanding of the park’s highlights, accommodations, services and facilities, as well as its history, you can plan your visit to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park with confidence, knowing what to expect and making the most of your time in this natural wonderland.


hiking trails

When visiting Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, there are plenty of activities to keep you entertained and immersed in nature. Whether you enjoy hiking, wildlife spotting, bird watching, or simply relaxing in picnic areas, this park has something for everyone.

Hiking Trails

With over 11 miles of wooded trails, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is a hiker’s paradise. The trails wind through the enchanting forest, offering glimpses of wildlife and stunning natural landscapes along the way. Some of the popular trails include the Hidden Falls Trail, the Big Woods Trail, and the Hope Trail. Lace up your hiking boots, grab a map, and explore the beauty of this scenic park.

Wildlife Spotting and Bird Watching

One of the highlights of Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is the opportunity to spot a variety of wildlife and observe birds in their natural habitat. Keep your eyes peeled for deer, squirrels, foxes, and even the elusive wild turkeys that call this park home. Bird watchers will be delighted by the diverse range of species that can be seen, including woodpeckers, warblers, and cardinals.

Picnic Areas and Camping

For those looking for a more leisurely experience, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park offers scenic picnic areas where you can relax and enjoy a meal surrounded by nature’s beauty. Pack a picnic basket, find a peaceful spot, and take in the sights and sounds of the park. Additionally, the park also has camping facilities for those who wish to spend the night and fully immerse themselves in the outdoor experience.

Whether you’re seeking adventure on the hiking trails, hoping to catch a glimpse of wildlife, or simply looking for a serene picnic spot, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park has it all. Plan your visit today and discover the countless activities waiting for you in Minnesota’s natural playground.

Exploring the Area

Nearby Parks and Trails

When visiting Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, there are plenty of opportunities to explore the surrounding area and discover additional outdoor attractions. Here are some nearby parks and trails that offer a variety of outdoor activities and natural beauty:

  • Caron Park: Located just a short drive from Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, Caron Park is a peaceful escape with scenic trails for hiking and biking. The park also features picnic areas where you can enjoy a meal surrounded by nature’s beauty.
  • Sakatah Lake State Park: Situated along the shores of Sakatah Lake, this state park offers a range of recreational activities such as boating, fishing, and hiking. The Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail is a popular trail that winds through the park, providing stunning lake views and opportunities for wildlife spotting.
  • Cannon River Wilderness Area: For those seeking a more rugged outdoor experience, the Cannon River Wilderness Area is a must-visit. This expansive wilderness area offers miles of hiking trails, camping options, and opportunities for bird watching and wildlife photography.

Exploring these nearby parks and trails allows you to extend your outdoor adventure beyond Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park. Whether you’re seeking peaceful hiking trails, water-based activities, or the thrill of wilderness exploration, the surrounding area has something for everyone.

Table: Comparison of Nearby Parks and Trails

Park/Trail Distance from Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park Main Activities Notable Features
Caron Park 10 miles Hiking, picnicking Scenic trails, picnic areas
Sakatah Lake State Park 15 miles Boating, fishing, hiking Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, lake views
Cannon River Wilderness Area 20 miles Hiking, camping, bird watching Wilderness experience, diverse wildlife

As you can see from the table above, these nearby parks and trails offer different experiences and attractions. Whether you’re looking for a peaceful picnic spot, water-based activities, or a rugged wilderness adventure, there is something for everyone in the vicinity of Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park.

By taking the time to explore the area, you can make the most of your visit and discover the natural beauty that Minnesota has to offer beyond the boundaries of the state park. Plan your itinerary to include these nearby attractions and create an unforgettable outdoor experience in the heart of nature.


In conclusion, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is a true gem, offering outdoor activities and showcasing the natural beauty of Minnesota. Whether you’re an avid hiker, wildlife enthusiast, or simply seeking a peaceful escape, this park has something for everyone.

With its expansive forest, picturesque waterfalls, and abundant wildlife, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park provides a perfect setting for outdoor adventures. The park’s diverse range of hiking trails allows visitors to immerse themselves in the breathtaking landscapes and observe the rich flora and fauna.

As one of the many captivating state parks in Minnesota, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park stands out for its unique charm and tranquil atmosphere. It presents an opportunity for visitors to connect with nature, rejuvenate their spirits, and create lasting memories. Don’t miss the chance to explore this natural oasis and experience the beauty that Minnesota’s state parks have to offer.


How big is Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park?

Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park covers an area of 2,882 acres.

What is the main highlight of the park?

The main highlight of the park is the Hidden Falls, a 20-foot limestone waterfall tucked away in the woods.

How many miles of trails does the park have?

The park offers over 11 miles of wooded trails for hiking and exploring.

Are there any nearby parks and trails?

Yes, Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is located near several other parks and trails, including Caron Park, Sakatah Lake State Park, and Cannon River Wilderness Area.

What activities can visitors enjoy at the park?

Visitors can enjoy hiking, wildlife spotting, bird watching, picnicking, and camping at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park.

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