Marsh marigolds brighten Hidden Falls at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park by Northfield.
Discover Southern Minnesota's wildflowers
|Wildflowers flank the trails at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.|
The trill of a red-winged blackbird swaying atop cattails instantly takes me back to growing up on the southern still-rural edge of the Twin Cities. April and May offered a daily scavenger hunt for new clusters and carpets of spring wildflowers.
Bloodroot emerged first, poking through the musty leaf litter beneath still-bare oak and basswoods. Muted green leaves curled protectively around bloodroot flower buds like a toddler’s hands cupped in prayer just before petals unfurled as crisply white as sheets on a clothesline.
|Dwarf trout lily|
That land where I grew up is long gone, bulldozed and reshaped for suburban sprawl, but there are many places in Southern Minnesota where you can see a spectacular parade of wildflowers. And with this year's record-breaking winter and late arrival of spring, you can see the wildflowers in bloom later than usual.
These photos are from a May 13 visit to Nerstrand-Big Woods State Park, often considered one of the best spots in the state to see woodland wildflowers. The park's 2,884 acres of hardwood forest (remnants of the famed Big Woods biome) sits about 15 minutes south of Northfield tucked into a rolling landscape with ravines and small streams carved by glacial runoff.
Birders delight in seeing another species of special concern: the red-headed woodpecker. Keep your eyes peeled, too, for the brilliant colors of rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings and scarlet tanagers flitting among the maples and basswoods. You can check out a bird identification kit from the main office.
If you want to stay and explore--and soak up the spring birdsongs and peaceful woods--there are 51 campsites available.
To enjoy the showy blossoms of orchards, check out this blog feature.
Love touring domestic gardens? Check out the best destination gardens in Minnesota.
Love finding hikes to waterfalls? Here are some of the best waterfalls in Minnesota and a quick listen to Nerstrand Big Woods' Hidden Falls. Enjoy!