Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park: Address, Phone Number, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park Reviews: 4.5/5

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park
Scenic park whose forest is part of the Big Woods.
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70 reviews
Very good

Melissa G
New Market, MN43 contributions
Jun 2020
What a spectacularly beautiful place. We went for the first time a few years ago for family pictures and came back this summer because we loved it so much. Last time we went on a weeknight and we were the only people there. This most recent visit there were so many people we had to park in the overflow. We did see someone charging for parking before the main parking lot, but I am glad we did not pay to go there because there was still some spots available in the additional lot, although we arrived shortly after opening. We walked under half a mile to get to the waterfalls, which was a fun stop for all. The kids played in and under the waterfall. It was shallow enough my 4 and 7 year old were able to walk in the water within a short arms reach of me. My older two were able to go anywhere around the water safely. We decided to walk the trails to get back to the car and ended up doing just over five miles. We barely passed anyone and enjoyed the beautiful wooded scenery. By the time we got back to the car the lot was almost empty. I give the highest of recommendations!
Written July 28, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

38 contributions
Aug 2020 • Family
For starters ~ I can definitely say you’ll want to get there early! The parking lot gets packed fast!
First time explorers had a blast (all ages) and enjoyed seeing the waterfall area. They did have portable restrooms open for use. The parking pass (year round) would be worth it if you plan on seeing even just a good handful of the state parks during the year. Next time we’ll have to come back during the flowering season!
Written August 2, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Amy G.
61 contributions
May 2021 • Couples
My husband and I camped here with our two dogs in late May. Hiking trails had variable levels of difficulty but not too challenging. Beautiful forest scenery and wildflowers surrounded the trails. Many families with children were at the park the same time we were there. A lovely park with some playground equipment and simple layout were obviously a great fit for families. Bathroom and shower facilities were top notch. Some campsites had limited privacy, so choose a site well in advance of your stay.
Written May 23, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Minneapolis, MN1 contribution
Apr 2020 • Couples
Ridiculous the way this park is handling visitors right now. We drove over an hour to get here to go for a walk, and whoever is micromanaging the entrance is turning people away, but not even letting anyone safely stop on the side of the road to wait 5 minutes until someone leaves. We pay taxes and have a state park pass, we should be allowed to at least safely wait out of the way until we can go in and enjoy a beautiful day in the park. Really disappointing, had to leave and drive another hour to find a different one.
Written April 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Andy M
Saint Paul, MN399 contributions
May 2020
Nerstrand is a great park. It has miles of easily accessible trails. The trails are dirt, not paved, but are wide and level. There are many different types of wild flowers in the spring. The only downfall is there isn't a big picnic area, but it's a great place to come and hike. Our kids were able to hike 6 miles, and not lose a positive attitude. It was really fun for our kids to wade in the river above the falls, as it is very sandy and shallow.

The parking lot is not large, and the park is monitoring numbers. If you are trying to visit on the weekend, come early, or be prepared to park on a private farm next door to the park and walk in.
Written May 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

1 contribution
Sep 2020 • Family
Overall great experience. Very nice hiking trails and beautiful hidden waterfall. The downside is parking. You must get there early if you want a parking spot. We were required to pay at the entrance, but we weren't even guaranteed a parking spot. We had to park in the small over flow lot, which filled up very quickly.Many people behind us had to keep driving around until someone left in order to get a parking spot. One of the DNR's was very rude to us.
Written September 6, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Maple Grove, MN634 contributions
Oct 2020 • Couples
Yesterday my wife and I took our dog and went hiking through Nerstrand Big Wood State Park for the first time. It’s just a little southeast of Northfield. Easy to get to. Parking on-premise is a little limited, so go early and circle the lot more than once. We lucked out in the second round and snagged a space. Multiple great trails of assorted lengths. Beautiful wooded area with a hidden waterfall. Varying elevation but nothing the average person couldn’t walk easily. With so many leaves now on the ground, it was important to keep an eye out for the many large tree roots protruding from the ground right in the middle of the paths. We enjoyed a great leisurely stroll and were able to distance ourselves from others. I think we ended up walking about 3.5 miles and could have walked longer or shorter. We would definitely return and recommend this park to others.
Written October 4, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Ginnie A
La Crosse, Wisconsin29 contributions
Sep 2021 • Couples
One of our favorites on our SE Mn State Park Adventure. The hike down to the falls was nice along with the tour of the White Oak trail. If you need help with balance, walking sticks are a definite plus as parts of the trails can be steep and rocky but for the most part very very nice and a definite go back.
Written September 6, 2021
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Saint Paul, MN793 contributions
Feb 2017 • Family
I've never felt compelled to review this park until now. I live within driving distance and given that the MN state park system is a jewel in our state, I feel lucky to be this close to one of them. Albeit, this park is smaller than some, and although it has its own charm, it's overdue for some attention.
The campground is adequate although sites can be very close (especially electric sites), but if camping with others, you could choose sites that will allow you to create a group camp feeling if you want. The non-electric sites mostly ring the inner electric ones and these can offer more privacy. The bath building here is updated so it is quite nice and always clean. There is a dump station. There is also a walk-in camp area and group area a little ways down the road from the office.
The park offers year round activity - wildflowers in the spring, hiking, cc skiing and snowshoeing when weather provides. They also offer special activities during different seasons.
Given the park is not very big, you could truly hike every trail in a visit if you put your mind to it or in not too many visits. This is where the average amounts from. The trails are in dire need of some serious maintenance. Especially on the south side. Go during a drought and you are bound to find wet areas that make you stop and think about how you will navigate them. If it's been wet recently, wear your galoshes because portions of the trails will be muddy streams. We recently tried to snowshoe the south side and had to bushwhack a lot as the trails were simply not trails anymore. Slush and water to come up to your ankles for long stretches. Today I would like to do a hike but it's been raining a lot and I know what to expect (including how do I deal with my muddy dog at the end of the hike?).
I wish MN would put this park on it's list (if there is one!) to fix the trails. This stand of old woods is worth seeing and is very peaceful. The story that explains the woods and what happened as the land around was cultivated is very interesting.
The park is located not far from Northfield which is a fun excursion if you are new to the area. Also, Dennison is nearby with a few restaurants that are worth checking out. Also Cannon Falls is a little further and you can hook up with the Cannon Valley Trail or visit the winery there, too.
Written April 20, 2017
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

Prior Lake, MN47 contributions
Jul 2016 • Couples
We are avid campers at MN state parks, so having seen a few, I feel like I can offer a decent bit of insight.

First, as the title indicates, the park itself is a forest oasis in farm country. The trails are in good shape, if a bit muddy in spots (even when it hasn't rained for a week or more). Some are almost completely shaded (Fawn Trail). The falls are nice, you can wade right in, take pictures, or just sit and listen to the water. All in all, the park itself is more than pleasant.

Now, the caveat to what I am about to type is that we went over Fourth of July. Its a huge camping weekend. The place was full, as expected. The campground is small and relatively compact, campsites were wider and shallower than some other state parks we have visited. They are semi private; from my site, I could see neighbors on both sides and across the road. For reference, I had site 12. I generally prefer to be away from campers, since I am a tent camper, just due to the noise associated with them. In this park, the electric sites are right across the road from non-electric, and with the shallow sites, the hum of an air conditioner replaces the buzz of crickets and hoots of owls. I could have been sleeping in a more humid version of my own bedroom. Also, because the campground is on the far eastern edge of the park, we were privvy to the fireworks noise from the farm that was just a couple hundred yards east. We were up well past midnight on the July 3rd.

The bathrooms were clean and updated. No concerns there. There are active raccoons in the area, so pack up your food and dispose of trash, or you will be awoken by visitors to your campsite in the night. :)

On a less busy weekend, I am sure we would have enjoyed the camping a little more. Overall, for a short drive away from the rest of the northbound lake traffic, it remains on our list of last minute "hey, lets go" campgrounds.
Written July 18, 2016
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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