Please note special message on current trail conditions:
Due to all the rain this year, all bridges and the boardwalk becomes quite slippery when wet.  Regretfully one of the bridges is temporarily closed for safety reasons.
Please use caution.

Scenic Trails at Maplewood Nature Center

Maplewood Nature Center Trails meander through oak woodland and around Green Heron Pond. Nature Center trails offer leisurely hiking in a quiet spot away from urban bustle. Watch wildlife, take photographs, and enjoy solitude and light exercise in a natural setting.

Hiking Trail Features and Accessibility

  • The 1.5 miles of nature hiking trails begin at the Visitor Center entry patio.
  • Close wildlife viewing is allowed by 600-foot floating boardwalk and observation decks.
  • Limerock surface is on most of the trail along the pond.
  • Trail accessibility for strollers and wheelchairs may vary with trail conditions. Call the Visitor Center, 651-249-2170 for current trail surface conditions.
  • Trail maps are available at the patio kiosk or in the Visitor Center.
  • Woodland natural dirt path follows the hill contours for increased trail safety and comfort.

Wildlife You May See and Hear

Water is a magnet for wildlife, and Green Heron Pond attracts its share of birds, mammals and other species. In spring, geese, ducks, herons, and many other migratory species of birds join resident muskrat, mink, and painted turtles. The pond is a nursery for ducklings, such as mallards and wood ducks which feed on midges and other insects emerging from the water.

The edge of the pond bordering the prairie is a dynamic habitat for wildlife. You may find gray tree frogs, dragonflies, and many pollinating insects. In the oak woods, look for white-tailed deer, great horned owls, and woodpeckers.

Learn About Trees with Tree Quest!

This self guiding hike around the pond is fun to navigate with your family, friends, by yourself, or any group of people!
Tree Quest Brochure

Sustainable Hiking Trails

The Nature Center trails use sustainable trail design to reduce erosion and negative impacts on Green Heron Pond. Trail segments follow slope contours wherever possible. Stretches of trail subject to spring flooding have been rerouted upslope to drier land. These improvements have yielded many benefits: better pond views, gentler slopes which are more compatible for the elderly and families with young children, and trail surfaces that dry out more quickly in spring.

This sustainable trails project carried out in 2009 was funded by the City of Maplewood and by a Federal Park and Recreational Trails grant. Many community partners, including St. Paul Audubon Society and Century College Field Biology program, seeded and planted abandoned trail corridors to re-establish native vegetation.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I walk my dog on nature center trails?
No, dogs are not permitted on nature center trails. Dogs may disturb wildlife and other visitors in this setting dedicated to leisurely hiking, wildlife observation, and photography.

Can I snowshoe or cross country ski?
Skiing is not permitted on MNC trails, however visitors can bring snowshoes or rent them during visitor center hours. See Snowshoe Rental.