Midwest, Minnesota

Take a Hike: Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Essentially an island of woods nestled into a large prairie, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is a site to see! There are about 11 miles of hiking trails here to explore. According to the DNR website, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is comprised of two, nearly horizontal, layers: a layer of glacial drift about 150 feet thick overlying a layer of Platteville Limestone. The limestone is visible only where the drift has been eroded away at Hidden Falls and along Prairie Creek. The limestone cliffs at Hidden Falls are really neat!

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

From the parking area, head down the Hidden Falls trail. This is one of the best parts of the park so I would head there first! The water below the falls is pretty shallow so you could always take your shoes off and go for a dip! If you want to just do a short loop, the Hidden Falls trail is about a one mile loop back to the parking lot.

We went from the Hidden Falls trail, along part of the Beaver trail to pick up the White Oak trail which looped us back to the parking area. This park is great for hiking because every trail loops you back to another trail or to the parking area. Next time I go, I want to go all 11 miles!

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Keep an eye out for pretty wildflowers!

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

You may even see some art happening!

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Tell me more, tell me more!

Difficulty? I would rank the difficulty as easy. There aren’t many inclines or tough parts of this hike. You can add on several loops to make the hike longer if you want more of a challenge!

Trail? This is a packed dirt trail so it can get muddy after a rain. Since it’s a state park, it is well maintained. A lot of the trail is wooded so this would be great on a hot day! Shade + waterfall = stay cool!

Map? Here is a link to a map of the trails!

Let me know what other information you might find helpful on these hiking posts so I can add it in next time. Hope you enjoy!

Hiking Guide - Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

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  • Reply Alissa Schrank

    Always looking for new dog-friendly hikes! Thanks 🙂

    July 19, 2017 at 9:33 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      My dog loved it!

      July 20, 2017 at 5:33 PM
  • Reply Jen Radke

    I love this park for all of the reasons you described. Great pictures too!

    July 19, 2017 at 10:26 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      Thanks! I definitely want to go back!

      July 20, 2017 at 5:33 PM
  • Reply jenn

    I love this park! The falls are amazing and so easily accessible for all hiking levels!

    July 19, 2017 at 11:03 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      I agree that it’s good for all levels of hikers! I like that it has so many loops of different lengths.

      July 20, 2017 at 5:34 PM
  • Reply Angel Noel

    Hi! This looks amazing. Would you say the trail is appropriate for trail running? I’m training for a trail Ragnar and love the challenge and beauty of running through our gorgeous Midwest forests. But I’m never sure if a trail is really run-able until it’s too late!

    July 19, 2017 at 11:18 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      Hi Angel, I would think this trail would be good for running. It is mostly packed dirt and not very rutted if I recall correctly. Plus, there are lots of miles of trails so you could get out further where there are less people too!

      July 20, 2017 at 5:36 PM
  • Reply Terrae

    I’m always looking for new parks to visit in MN. Thank you for sharing this beautiful place. It’s on my list now.

    July 20, 2017 at 1:28 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      You’re welcome! Happy that I got to show you a new place!

      July 20, 2017 at 5:36 PM
  • Reply An Trieu

    great post! I need to find ways to get out hiking again!

    July 20, 2017 at 3:38 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      Thank you! This park is great because it isn’t too far out of the cities which makes it doable on a weekend morning!

      July 20, 2017 at 5:37 PM
  • Reply Kate

    What a beautiful looking park! I have never even heard of this park before. We usually head up to the north shore when we camp. We should check out other parts of the state, too! Thanks for sharing!

    July 20, 2017 at 8:13 PM
  • Reply Agness of aTukTuk

    This is an awesome place for hiking, Erin! Is there any good accommodation nearby this state park?

    August 22, 2017 at 2:28 PM
    • Reply duemidwest

      Hi Agness! There is camping in the park, either drive in or walk in sites that you can choose from. If you didn’t want to camp, there are several cute B&Bs in Fairbault which would be close to the park.

      August 22, 2017 at 8:27 PM

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