Explore Our Trails
Minnesota Campus: Trails, building, parking lots, and front gates close daily at 4:30pm
Wisconsin Campus: Al & Laurie Hein Visitor Center, Woodland trails, and parking lot close daily at 4:30pm. Prairie trails, and North loop trails close at sunset.
- Dogs are allowed at Carpenter Nature Center, but they must be on a leash and owners must clean up after them. Pets are not allowed in the buildings.
- Bikes and other motorized vehicles are not permitted on the hiking trails for the safety of all our visitors enjoying the trails.
- CNC’s MN campus has 4 miles of paved trails for easy accessibility.
Check out the trail maps below to plan your hike!
Embrace the Bold North! During the winter months snowshoe rentals are available for onsite use when snow conditions are adequate. Snowshoes are available for all visitors for a rental fee of $5 or free to Frosty 40 participants and ‘Friends of CNC’. Read more about snowshoe rentals here.
If there is no one at the greeter desk when you arrive,
please call (651)-437-4359.
MN Campus Map
Pick up our Self-guided Trail booklet and be your own teacher as you wind through the many habitats present at CNC. This easy paved walk has a series of numbered checkpoints where you can stop to learn about some of the natural wonders you may see while on your visit.
Beginning near the Pergola, this mowed-grass trail leads you through grassland and oak savanna. It connects with the Self-guided Trail at the River Overlook.
As you walk through a deciduous forest, this 0.1 mile steep woodchip trail brings you down the ravine to the river. The trail is accessed at the top by the Self-guided Trail and at the bottom by the Railroad Bed Trail.
SOUTH RIVER BLUFF TRAIL
This steeply sloped woodchip trail, accessed at the top by the Self-guided Trail, winds among limestone ledges 0.1 mile down to the Railroad Bed Trail by the river.
RAILROAD BED TRAIL
After descending by either the Beach Trail, the North River Bluff Trail, or the South River Bluff Trail, follow this 0.75 mile grass trail along the beautiful St. Croix River.
NORTH LOOP TRAIL
Accessed via the Self-guided Trail, this 1.0 mile paved trail, which circles an old orchard, offers a view of our “sugarbush”, where sap is collected from boxelder trees in the spring for making pure maple syrup. The trail also passes the Trailside Lodge and pine plantation.
NORTH RIVER BLUFF TRAIL
Beginning from the North Loop Trail, this moderately steep woodchip trail goes for 0.7 miles to the Railroad Bed Trail which runs along the St. Croix River.
RED CEDAR TRAIL
An extension of the North Loop Trail, this 0.3 mile gently sloping woodchip trail brings the visitor deeper into the woods overlooking the breathtaking ravine.
PRAIRIE LOOP TRAILS
Visit our prairie restoration site across Cty. Rd. 21 to see native prairie plants in the spring, summer, and fall. The outer grass loop is 1.4 miles with several mowed paths that branch off throughout the prairie.
WI Campus Map
Note: Trail descriptions are listed in order from easily accessible to most adventurous.
BIG BLUESTEM TRAIL
This relatively flat trail circles the west half of the restored prairie between South and East Cove Roads. The trail totals about 0.8 miles, with elevation varying 20 feet at the highest and lowest points. There is access to parking and the Greenwald Information Kiosk.
LITTLE BLUESTEM TRAIL
A sister to the Big Bluestem trail, this 0.8 mile loop circles the east half of the restored prairie between South and East Cove Roads. Take a break to enjoy the council ring.
Use this 0.25 mile trail to connect to the prairie trails from the Ridgeline Trail. Experience this flat grassland area as you walk alongside the main driveway.
This short 0.2 mile walk has a wide variety of plants from pine trees to prairie plants. In early summer, look for blooming Indigo in the prairie.
LAURIE & AL HEIN TRAIL
Beginning from the Acorn Trail entrance, this 0.25 mile trail is surrounded by tall trees and is located in the middle of a deciduous forest. This trail was a favorite walk for Al and Laurie Hein when they lived on this property.
This 0.63 mile trail includes a hike into and out of a moderately sloped, large basin full of vegetation. From the top edge of the basin, take a glimpse of the spectacular view.
This 1.2 mile narrow trail winds around a deciduous forest and includes areas with steep slopes. Look for deer, squirrels, woodpeckers, and owl nests along the way.