Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Are you looking for a fun new place to hike and you’re interested in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park?  Maybe you’re looking for a waterfall to check out, or maybe you want to have a challenging hike for a good workout.  Read on to find all about it!

Last year, we had a lot of fun doing a 5 Week Workout Challenge.  For 5 weeks we visited a bunch of parks for hiking and also did a couple indoor workouts.  It was a lot of fun!

Although I’d love to try another challenge this year, I’m not sure what yet.  I have a few fun ideas already!  This year though, we have already started visiting new parks!   Our first new park was Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

We’ve seen some amazing images of the waterfall at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.  We also noticed on the website that they had a campground.  Since we love camping, we decided to check it out.

The drive out to Nerstrand was about 45 minutes.  We weren’t disappointed by the scenery,   There were lovely rolling hills of farmland broken up sporadically by patches of woods and walls of rock cut through the hills.

I found it amusing that a place called Big Woods could be found in the middle of so much farmland.   So many times, I could see nothing but fields as far as the eye could see, and I couldn’t imagine how a huge forest could be hiding somewhere.

As the fields turned to denser and denser trees, we all became excited at the newest adventure before us.  Driving up to the park, we noticed a huge solar panel, awesome!  Thankfully our state parking permit was up to date.  If you don’t have a state permit, you can find current prices here.

We drove through the campground to check out the sites to see if it seemed like a place we could stay at.  The campgrounds are a thinly wooded area and are moderately spaced apart.  Some of the spots did not look like they could fit our large tent.  Many did have adequate room, given it is an RV friendly park.  So if you’re tenting, make sure to check the tent ffot print.

We parked at the entrance to the walking trails and checked out the map.  The park was huge.  Hidden in the dense trees, I could almost forget we were surrounded by farmland and miles upon miles of fields.   On the map, the park looks like a little green dot in the middle of nowhere.  In the park, you find yourself in a precious oasis of trees and trails.

We chose a shorter hike since it was our first of the season.  We decided to head to the waterfalls one way and back another.  Both were listed as extremely difficult.

I found out that the difficulty was most likely related to the incline.  Down was easy, up, was not.  Unrelated to the map, we also had to navigate the mud and puddles left behind by the winter melt.  I think this was probably the hardest for our family.  Trying to keep the kids from playing in the mud!  Ha!

The day we came was incredibly busy.  Everyone else must have been equally excited to get out of the house.  Everywhere we turned on the way down were people and dogs.  People in front and behind us.  Given that most Minnesotans are cheerful folk, we had a lot of small chit chat and friendly greetings.

The falls were beautiful.  There was still snow and ice all around.  I can only imagine how they must look frozen over.  The falls themselves aren’t very large.  I wasn’t worried about the kids drowning in the creek, should they fall in, just that they would get wet and make a mess.  I did have to constantly reign them in due to the pent-up excitement of being outside.

Our way back was pretty not so crowded.  Although we could hear the gleeful sounds of children echoing throughout the park intermittently.  I had to have Nate drag me up one steep hill, but other than that, the rest was a relaxing stroll.

We really enjoyed our visit.  We might have to come back another time to check out some of the other trails and to see what the park looks like when it turns green!  Or maybe even come back in the fall!  It looks like they get a lot of beautiful color!

Have you been to Newstrand Big Woods State Park? What is your favorite hiking trail in Minnesota?  Let us know, we’d love to check it out!




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