About Us

11/2020 Update:
The Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park has elected Dave Detert as chair of its board.  Dave lives in Northfield, after a career practicing medicine in Litchfield, MN.  Katy Gillispie has rotated out of the chairmanship, and will continue her many activities to support the park.  

It has been a difficult year for the park, and the Friends have had to curtail many activities because of the COVID  pandemic.  The park has been very busy, with about three times as many visitors as usual. 

To support the Friends, please donate on line via the Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota, a 501c3 non profit, which makes donations tax deductible.See the Nerstrand page at: parksandtrails.org/friends-groups/meet-friends/nerstrand

Nerstrand State Park in encountering record breaking use! Please call ahead to find out real time updates on conditions, facilities, and attendance. 3/4 of the trail system is closed do to seasonal flooding, and there are only 2 vault toilets for the entire park. The parks phone number is: 507-384-6143.

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.

The park remains closed to camping and a reopening date is yet to be determined.   The park is often crowded in the afternoon, so that the main parking lot fills, and then the lot by the group camps/walk-in camp fills. 

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

Raking the area to be seeded.
Seed Collection.

We will be seeding the grant project area on Wednesday Nov 7th, from approximately 9 am to noon. Come help if you can, it probably won’t take long (but that’s what we thought about the trees…) Work off your election hangover!

Help is needed to spread seeds in the worked up ground near the picnic area. When finished, this area will contain native flowers and grasses giving visitors a chance to see them and their pollinators at work. The restoration project is funded by a grant from Parks & Trails Council of MN. In case of significant rain (or snow), we will select an alternate date.

Natural Playground 2018

Restoration Project 2018

The Friends of Nerstrand Big Woods State Park proudly announce that 2020 Calendars are now available for a $10.00 donation. Money will go toward Friends projects, including improvements to campsites, playground improvement, and benches.

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.