Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park is a state park of Minnesota, USA, northeast of Faribault near the small town of Nerstrand. The park derives its name from the Big Woods, a large, contiguous forested area covering much of central Minnesota prior to the arrival of European settlers. The park and its forest were an outlying 'woods' typical and similar to the Big Woods proper, which were historically found on the more recent glacier deposits located west of the Cannon River 10mi to the west. Aside from a small waterfall, the outstanding natural feature of the park is the forest itself.Natural historyThe Platteville Limestone formation, deposited almost 500 million years ago during the Ordovician Period, forms the bedrock of the park. The limestone is exposed only in a few places along Prairie Creek, most notably at Hidden Falls. The rest of the park is covered in glacial drift up to 150ft deep. A later glaciation passed 10mi to the west, from which meltwater flowed and enlarged the valley of Prairie Creek.This area was once covered in spruce forest, but as the climate warmed after the end of the last ice age, oak stands and prairie became dominant. 400 to 500 years ago the climate cooled slightly, promoting the growth of the Big Woods.In the spring native wildflowers bloom in abundance. A remnant population of the dwarf trout lily, an endangered plant endemic to this area, is present in the park.Use our Nerstrand tour planner to add Nerstrand Big Woods State Park and other attractions to your Nerstrand vacation plans.
Create a full Nerstrand itinerary
Unable to display map at this time. Please try again later.
Plan your trip to Nerstrand
Get a personalized planA complete day-by-day itinerary
based on your preferences
Customize itRefine your plan. We'll find the
best routes and schedules
Book itChoose from the best hotels
and activities. Up to 50% off
Manage itEverything in one place.
Everyone on the same page.
Plans in Minnesota by other users
3 days in Duluth BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Minnesota BY A USER FROM CANADA May, popular PREFERENCES: May ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Minnesota BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 12 days in International Falls & Fort Worth BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES August, popular PREFERENCES: August ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Minnesota BY A USER FROM UNITED KINGDOM September, culture, outdoors, shopping, popular PREFERENCES: September, culture, outdoors, shopping ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Minnesota BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 5 days in Minnesota BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Duluth BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES April, popular PREFERENCES: April ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in Minnesota, North Dakota & Wisconsin BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 10 days in Wisconsin & Minnesota BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES June, popular PREFERENCES: June ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 3 days in Minneapolis BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium 15 days in United States BY A USER FROM UNITED STATES July, popular PREFERENCES: July ATTRACTION STYLE: Popular PACE: Medium
View more plans
My best friend and I went hiking through Nerstrand Big Woods on a lovely October Monday. It was a perfect place for talking while getting lots of steps on leaf-filled trails. It was an enjoyable and e... more »
Make plans to visit this park next spring to view the flowers! Nerstrand Woods is one of the best places to view these beautiful flowers in abundance! The forest floor is literally white with blooms! more »
This park packs a lot into a modest sized package. The scenery is beautiful. I can't wait to see it with the Fall colors. The trails are user friendly to most anybody that is modestly physically fit a... more »
Great day trip from Minneapolis/St. Paul (skip the camping if you are a tent camper). The hidden falls is a great short walk, and the other mature forest walks are a great sight to see--a few large mature trees in a large open forest without all the scrub trees. Hard to describe in words--but worth a visit to see--especially in fall or in spring with the wild flowers. Any day trip should stop in Northfield...and don't miss the Quality Bakery for donuts. Yum! Just bring cash--they don't take cards. If you are a tent camper and are thinking about the walk-in sites--DON'T--they are next to 4 group camp sites. I was there last weekend and there were about 50 people in 4 separate groups across from my site--just 100% not compatible with quiet tent camping expectations. I have no idea why the State has so many sites with these uses next to one another. If you want quiet solitude walk in sites--try Great River Bluffs--some of those are great and by themselves.
Hidden Falls is beautiful after a good rainfall and just as geologically interesting during drier times. 11mile excellent trail system for varied hiking levels, bird life abounds in the forest including Red-Headed Woodpecker, Pileated Woodpecker, many songbirds. Also, 100 acre Restored Prairie just gets more beautiful and diverse every year. Join Friends of the Big Woods State Park to get involved in interesting volunteer activities. Intimate feel to this State Park and yet a lot to interest all ages. Naturalists programs are great! Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe Event every early Feb is MAGICAL!
Nice park! A little too busy in the main area. Go across the road if you want a quiet hike.
Took my boys hiking here last fall and made it back for a camping weekend this past weekend! Nice and quiet park. Has a great interpretive exhibit in the visitor center. Plenty of hiking for all abilities. The Hidden Falls are a must see. Especially after a good rain. One of few Minnesota State Parks that have water hookup for some of their sites. Hope to make it back in the fall again to check out the colors!
Beautiful! And something for everyone. It's a short walk to see the waterfall, or there are miles of trail ranging form easy to difficult. A good mix of terrain, and decently hilly on the difficult trails (well, as hilly as we get in MN). Gets nice and muddy in the spring and after a good rain. =)
Best things to do in Nerstrand
Things to do around Nerstrand
Extreme Sandbox - Minnesota
Visit for: 2h
Visit for: 3h
Visit for: 4h
Minnesota Landscape Arboretum
Visit for: 2h 30min
National Eagle Center
Visit for: 1h 30min
Minnesota Marine Art Museum
Visit for: 1h 30min
Are you the owner of this business?Click here for promotion tips.