Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Autumn beauty in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park October 3, 2013

A baby's sock lost along a path at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in rural rice County Minnesota.

A baby’s sock lost along a path at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park in rural Rice County, Minnesota.

A single sock.

When I paused to photograph this oak leaf, my husband dubbed the trail Acorn Trail.

When I paused to photograph this oak leaf, my husband dubbed the trail Acorn Trail.

A single oak leaf.

Countless bees and butterflies flitted among the wildflowers.

One of the many bees and butterflies swarming the wildflowers.

A single bee.

The solo head of an unidentified plant in the afternoon sunlight.

The solo head of an unidentified plant in the afternoon sunlight.

Solitude.

In the quiet of the woods, beautiful berries discovered.

In the quiet of the woods, beautiful berries discovered.

Beauty.

Clusters of wildflowers edge the woods.

Clusters of wildflowers edge the woods.

Wind bending wildflowers and weeds, the sun beating upon our backs as we curve into the shaded woods.

My husband, Randy, pauses to look over the ravine.

My husband, Randy, pauses to look over the ravine.

Pause at the rust-hued railing, glimpse to the ravine below where water once flowed when rain was plentiful.

Couples and families hiked the trails through the park.

Couples and families hike the trails through the park.

Lost in thoughts. Savoring the solace which embraces us even as groups of hikers pass us by.

A tree line in the park shows leaves beginning to change color.

A tree line in the park shows leaves beginning to change color.

We have come here to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park on a Sunday afternoon to see the fall colors, only beginning to show.

The sign welcoming visitors to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, known for its beautiful fall colors.

The sign welcoming visitors to Nerstrand Big Woods State Park, known for its beautiful fall colors.

But we have come here, too, my husband and I, to walk together, to hold hands, to embrace this afternoon in a place not far from home, yet so far away.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The road running east and west past the park.

The road running east and west past the park.

Berries pop with color near the entry into the park.

Berries pop with color near the park entry.

Leaves of purple and green along a path in the woods.

Along a path in the woods.

The park features an abundance of wildflowers.

The park features an abundance of wildflowers.

The sumac has already turned color.

The sumac has already turned color.

FYI: Nerstrand Big Woods State Park offers numerous organized activities to engage visitors in the season.

For example, from now until October 19, the park is hosting a Fall Photo Quest scavenger hunt. Bring your digital camera or borrow one at the Visitor Center where you will get instructions. Collect fall photos while learning why and how leaves change color.

On Saturday, October 5, from 1 p.m. – 4 p.m., gather native seeds for planting in park restorations. Sign up at the Visitor Center.

The following Saturday, October 12, from noon – 4 p.m., join the Autumn Trees Scavenger Hunt, collecting clues along trails as you discover which leaf belongs to which tree. Stop at the Visitor Center to start your adventure.

Click here for details on the above listed programming at Nerstrand Big Woods State Park.

Also on Saturday, October 12, St. John’s United Church of Christ, Wheeling Township, sponsors its 17th annual Big Woods Run beginning at the country church near the park. Registration deadlines are October 7 and 8. After the race, enjoy a luncheon featuring homemade soups and more, an awards ceremony and a bake sale. For more info, click here.

This Saturday, October 5, from 10:30 a.m. – 1 p.m., Nerstrand United Methodist Church, 12 Maple Street in Nerstrand hosts its annual Fall Festival. The event features gift baskets, a silent auction, a bake and produce sale, and lunch. Hot beef sandwiches, chili, chicken wild rice soup and homemade pies with ice cream will be served.

Nerstrand Big Woods State Park is located just west of Nerstrand or northeast of Faribault.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

32 Responses to “Autumn beauty in Nerstrand Big Woods State Park”

  1. D. M. Seyfer Says:

    Fun blog. Good photo concept.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you, Denise, and welcome to Minnesota Prairie Roots readership. Always happy to hear from readers like you.

  2. Beth Ann Says:

    Love the Acorn Trail! Hard to walk on those things sometimes.I think fall is here. Of course today the weather turns nasty when we have to go to Sioux Falls. Sigh. Last time it was snow that kept us from going—this time it will storms. How can it be when the first part of the week was so doggone beautiful?

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Are you going to have time to explore Sioux Falls? I hear there’s lots to see.

      Yes, we have had some gorgeous weather. The honeymooners arrive home from Hawaii to this cold and gloom, having missed the past 10 days of incredible autumn weather here in Minnesota. But we need the rain, we definitely do.

      • Beth Ann Says:

        Nope—just a quick trip up. appt at 8 am and then back home as Chris has calls and business to do. Some day we will explore more but for now it will have to be the quick shots out the window of any fall colors!

      • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

        Set the camera on a fast shutter speed. Oh, and clean the windows. I’m always out there wiping down windows before any trip and even carry window cleaner and paper towels with me. I know. A photo fanatic for sure.

  3. treadlemusic Says:

    Thank you for the opportunity to take a sunny walk on this foggy, rainy, storm threatening day. I believe that our weather will be of the more November variety once this passes through. Indian Summer, perhaps, on the agenda??? The rains, at the moment, are coming down in steady fashion. A great day (and what day isn’t???) for quilting!!!! Onward……….

  4. Jackie Says:

    I’ve heard of Nerstand but never been there. Beautiful photo’s Audrey, so crisp and colorful. Colors are near peak on the North shore, I think we hit it just right, Hoping to post something soon….. possible rain this afternoon, sounds like blog time to me 🙂

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Don’t you just love it when you plan a fall trip and you hit the colors at just the right time? Can’t wait to see your pix from the North Shore. Rain down here in southern MN, to.

  5. This is a beautiful gem of a park. The meat market in nearby town of Nerstrand has some of the best smoked meat for miles around. Love love love that neck of the woods. Great photos!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      You’re spot on correct about Nerstrand Meats.

      It was a perfect day to shoot photos, although a bit windy. Had to clamp my hand upon the wildflowers before shooting them as they were wending in the wind.

  6. Loving your post – Beautiful Captures – my fav is the bee and flower:) Happy Thursday!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      I like that pic, too. I clamped by left hand onto the flowers to keep them from blowing in the wind and then snapped three quick shots of that bee on the blooms. And, yes, I was cognizant that I could get stung.

    • Glad you did not get stung and the bee really just wants to go about its business anyway. A few days ago there were pretty bad winds here and I found 4 dead bees in the backyard:( I make sure I have plenty of plants and flora for the bees as well as water available too, especially with them in hibernation mode right now:)

  7. Isn’t it fun to focus on those beautiful details as you hike through anywhere? There is so much to enjoy when we focus on the little things. Love the baby sock.

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      The sock was the first thing I spotted shortly after our arrival. Made me wonder where a baby was wandering around sockless. I love details, especially in nature. Well, and just about anywhere actually.

  8. LOVE LOVE LOVE that photo of the bee on the purple wildflowers!!!

    • Audrey Kletscher Helbling Says:

      Thank you. Had to hold the flowers still in the wind with my left hand and shoot with my right. I’m pleased, too, with the results.


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