A Stop at Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park

Spring can be hard to get away sometimes because every Saturday is soccer games.  Mother’s Day weekend we decided to hit the road immediately after soccer and head north to visit my Mom for the holiday.  I checked out the map and found Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park was not too far off I-35 so we decided it would be a good way to break up our drive.  This state park is an hour south of Minneapolis on I-35 and would make a great day trip.

The hiking club trail is a nice, short 2.2 mile trail.  The trailhead starts you at the parking area and directs you to Hidden Falls, which is just a short ways down the trail.  We decided to take the loop in the opposite direction so that we would end with Hidden Falls.  When hiking with kids, I try to make the highlight of the hike towards the end to keep them excited and motivated for the other portions on the hike.


So we set off on the White Oak Trail.  It was a wonderful, shady trail with towering woods above us.  The trail leads over some steeper ravines that were formed by melting glaciers and then crosses over Prairie Creek.


Eventually the trail leads to Hidden Falls, the highlight of the hike.  The girls loved splashing around and climbing around the falls.


The pool below the falls was pretty shallow and perfect for the kiddos to explore.

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This was our Hike #13 for the 51-HIke Challange and both girls throughly enjoyed the hike and the falls was the icing on the cake. Evie was so sad when it was time to go.


And of course, Elsie had to climb her way back up to the top of th trail.

After exploring the falls, we made our way back to the parking lot.  The 1/2 mile trail between Hidden Falls and the parking area showcases the delicate and protected Minnesota Dwarf Trout Lily.  This lily is endangered and can only be found in this particular area of the state.  We had hoped to see some but unfortunately, they had just finished their bloom.  But we did see quite a bit of other wildflowers along the hike.  Spring is just a beautiful time to visit this wildflower rich state park.

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After returning from the hike, we looped around the campground.  This state park has 51 campsites, 27 of which are electric sites.  There are also four walk-in sites as well.  After driving through, this park would be great for those who are tent campers.  If you choose to come camping here, the non-electric sites are the sites to reserve.  They had the woods in the back of the sites and more privacy between sites.  The electric sites are located in the center of the loops and were more open.

In addition to the hiking club trail there is an additional 9 miles of hiking trails and there is a large picnic area with a playground.  Northfield, MN is close by and is the home to the Defeat of Jesse James Days in September.  This area is definitely worth a stop in you find yourself traveling on I-35 south of Minneapolis.

DATE OF TRAVEL:  May 13th, 2017

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