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Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park 

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Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is located in the Prairies region of southeast Minnesota near Northfield and Faribault.  

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

How to Get to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park:  Drive 11 miles southeast of Northfield on Highway 246. 

Park Highlights:

  • Nerstrand is the only Minnesota State Park that does not feature a historic site or a major body of water. However, it does have one of the few remaining stands of “big woods” forest. Most of the big trees in the area were clear-cut by lumber dealers. In 1945, locals worked with the legislature to set aside 1,200 acres of elm, maple, and basswood trees as a state park.
  • The most popular trail in the park rewards hikers with views of the beautiful Hidden Falls waterfall

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Nerstrand-Big Woods’ Natural Attractions: The dense Big Woods landscape is enhanced in spring with a profusion of wildflowers, and in autumn with stunning fall foliage. Some of the rarest flowers in the state bloom here, including the dwarf trout lily, which is only found in this park.

Birds you may see here include red-headed woodpeckers, scarlet tanagers, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, bobolinks, and meadowlarks. Animals that inhabit the Big Woods include deer, fox, and raccoons.

Things to Do in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park:  Enjoy the open picnic area that features a playground, volleyball court, and horseshoe pits.  

Eleven miles of hiking trails wind through the woods and to the waterfall. This is a wonderful state park for winter camping.  In winter, 6 miles of trails are groomed for cross-country skiing and 4 miles for snowmobiling. Snowshoeing is permitted throughout the park, except on groomed trails. A warming house is available. 

Camping in Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park: There are 51 drive-in sites for tents and RVs; 27 sites have electrical hookups. Four rustic walk-in sites are located up to 200 yards from the parking lot. There are 3 group camp sites that accommodate from 16 to 32 people. Picnic tables, fire rings, showers, flush and vault toilets, and a dump station are available. 

Download our Minnesota State Parks E-book to take with you on your travels: Minnesota State Parks: From Afton to Zippel Bay

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Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
More Attractions in This Region: Visit Northfield, a charming small city with European flair located along the Cannon River. The town is known for a bank robbery by the infamous Jesse and Frank James that was foiled by courageous townspeople. Visit over the Labor Day weekend for one of Minnesota’s best festivals: Defeat of Jesse James Days.

Other State Parks in This Region of Minnesota:   Sakatah Lake State Park Rice Lake State Park  


9700 170th Street East
Nerstrand, MN 55053

Phone: 507-333-484

Email: nerstrand.statepark@state.mn.us

Minnesota State Parks

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