Recent News

The very cold April delayed the spring ephemerals but the “light switch” spring has allowed them to bloom in abundance. Volunteer Wildflower Ambassadors guided viewers on the Falls Trail on Saturday and Sundays during May. This summer Park Naturalist Andy Wendt is leading many weekend events. Park is full on weekends, with some openings to camp on weekdays.

Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park are volunteering at the park, often on Wednesday mornings, to help clean up and improve common areas. If you want to volunteer, email Dave Detert at

Update for 12/2021

Covid has once again kept Friends from volunteering at the park. The Board has established a new way to help the park of the future. The Board has set up a Land Acquisition Fund through the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota. The DNR has no plans at present to expand the park. The new Friends fund hopes to have funds available to help acquire land if it becomes available.

There will not be a winter ski and snowshoe event this year, once again because of COVID. We can look forward to spring, and hope for better days and wildflowers.

Update for 9/2021: Katy Gillispie had fun presenting monarchs Aug. 21.  She raises monarchs and has visited the site where they winter, as monarchs roost in fir trees of the mountains in a small area of Mexico.  On Aug. 28 we walked the prairie and saw many monarchs, though we did not see flocks because they were scattered by the gusty winds.  Monarchs flock to the Nerstrand Big Woods state park prairie to fuel up on nectar from plants such as blazing star and goldenrod.

To support the Friends, please donate online via the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, a 501c3 non profit, which makes donations tax deductible.See the Nerstrand page at:

Dave Terry stands next to the train he built for the nature play area, with support from the Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

Having a great time at the Candlelight Event Feb. 2!

Raking the area to be seeded.
Seed Collection.

Natural Playground 2018

Restoration Project 2018

We are looking for people that would like to donate trees as a memorial, or for any other reason.  Please call the Park Office if interested – 507-384-6140.

Tree Planting 2017

Park Bench Installation
Park Bench Installation

We are looking for volunteers to help with a new Friends effort- growing native plants for the park. This will consist of planting collected seeds from the park and caring for young plants at your home the following spring, and then planting them at the park. You can participate in any or all of these steps- be a foster parent for a plant! Please contact us if you are interested.

Geocaching in the Park.
Geocaching in the Park.

Prairie Hike Sept. 12th
Prairie Hike Sept. 12th

Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is a community organization devoted to preserving and enhancing the experience of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park. Through various activities and efforts we seek to sustain the natural beauty and ecology of the park, support interpretive and environmental education programs of the park, advocate for the park, promote awareness of the park’s resources, and provide volunteers and support when needed.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is a true gem. Nestled in arguably the largest Maple-Basswood forest in the state, it offers beauty in each season of the year. During the winter, Hidden Falls ices over providing spectacular photo opportunities. Cross country skiing, snow shoeing and snowmobiling are available.

Columbine are blooming at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.
Columbine are blooming at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

The spring wild flowers are spectacular. Hepatica, bloodroot, trillium, anemone, jack-in-the- pulpit, wild ginger, and the endangered dwarf trout lily are some of the flowers one can encounter. The May 2014 Backpacker Magazine featured Nerstrand Big Woods State Park as one of the best wildflower hikes in the country. About the North loop, It said, After the snow melts but before the trees leaf out, the understory in this forested park sparkles with flowers—including the cream-colored Minnesota dwarf trout lily, a federally endangered bloom found in only a few counties. Hike this 4.8-mile loop late April through May for the showiest displays. From the park office, take the west branch of the Hidden Fall Trail north for a broad patches of buttery marsh marigold and dwarf trout lilies. Link the Fawn, Hope, Beaver, and White Oak Trails past Hidden Falls’ wide 10 foot curtain; look for daisy-like bloodroot, the puffy V shape of Dutchman’s breeches, and white and violet Hepatica throughout.

Summer activities include geocaching, archery, naturalist led hikes, and many others.

The fall colors at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park are spectacular. A hike along the trails will entice a person to take countless photos.