Spring Ephemeral

The image is of Hidden Falls at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in Minnesota. The water is cascading over a low, wide falls to a shallow basin with a sandbar. The trees in the background have just begun budding.

#12 of my 52 Hike Challenge

Trail/Park: Hidden Falls, Beaver and White Oak Trails, Nerstrand Big Woods State Park

I want to acknowledge this hike took place on the traditional territory of the Wahpekute, Wahpeton and Očhéthi Šakówiŋ. To learn more about the tribes and these lands, please follow the links provided.


Taking hikes seems to be something healing not just for me but for John too. He’s been more than willing to take a road trip to do it lately so I’m seizing the opportunity. We had talked about going to see the spring ephemerals at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park for a couple weeks. A weekend off from work provided a day for us to make the trip south.

Knowing the park is incredibly popular due to the spring blooms, we got going earlier than usual to try and beat any crowds. Even with the early start, we found the park starting to get busy. I wanted to take him to the falls and then we’d determine if we’d go further. The hike to the falls isn’t a long one and, surprisingly, it wasn’t busy. Along the way we started seeing what I’d come for – many of the spring ephemerals. Bloodroot, wild ginger and trout lilies carpeted the woods in many places. Some were in bloom, others were still holding back in the morning chill.

A naturalist was stationed on the trail. We stopped briefly to chat before continuing to the falls. We arrived to have the falls to ourselves, if only for a few minutes. I knew John would love the sound of the water. He stepped quietly down from the falls while I took pictures and from the look on his face I could tell it was a delight to him. The sounds of moving water are restorative to both of us.

Not ready to end our adventure, we chose to follow the Beaver Trail which crosses the top of the falls and then slowly rises away from Prairie Creek and into the surrounding forest. Knowing the trail is part of the Hiking Club trail at the park, I expected it to be busier than what we experienced. Again we had the trail mostly to ourselves. I stopped often to point out the various flowers and take more pictures. Unexpectedly, we found several areas of trout lily in bloom despite being told it was too cold of a day.

We walked slowly enjoying the time together in the peaceful setting. It was time outside we both appreciated and needed. I considered how fortunate I am to live in a place that offers so many opportunities to be outside. Wether in my neighborhood park or experiencing one of Minnesota’s State Parks, there are these magical spots so close to all of us.

Do you have a favorite park you like to visit? Whether urban or not, I’d love to hear about where you go to wonder at the beauty of nature. Drop me a note in the comments and share the place you love to be in the spring!

Next Post Preview: I head to another of the Minnesota State Parks in search of what could be the final blooms of spring ephemerals.


GEAR: Merrell Women’s Siren 3 Mid Waterproof, REI Co-op XeroDry GTX Jacket, REI Co-op 650 Down Jacket, Marmot Kompressor Pack, Dueter Dirtbag, Kula Cloth, Leki Women’s Micro Vario Cor-Tec TA trekking poles. Want to know more about my gear selections? Head on over to Gear & Gadgets or check out my posts titled “Gear in Review”.

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Photo of a group of hikers on a sunny day in a field heading towards a wooded area. The photographer has taken the photo from behind the group.

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