Tamarack Nature Preserve
The Tamarack Nature Preserve is a 169-acre wetland surrounded by woodlands. This bog-like "rich fen" resulted from the last retreat of the glaciers in the region more than 10,000 years ago and is now home to one of the southernmost stands of tamarack trees in the state. The Preserve has two miles of trails over nearly flat topography, which winds through the wetland offering solitude and scenery.
The site boasts great biodiversity of marsh plants, birds, and other wild creatures, as well as floating hummocks. It not only provides important habitat for flora and fauna but allows human visitors to immerse themselves in a reflective and restorative place that provides a deep connection to nature.
The parking lot is located at 1825 Tower Drive in Woodbury.
- Video Tour
- Plan Your Visit
- Events at the Preserve
- Virtual Nature Center
- Fun Facts
- The Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards
Plan your Visit
The Tamarack Nature Preserve is open year-round, though the trail conditions vary based on the weather. Set hours of operation aren't posted, as it is a non-staffed Nature Preserve; however, since there is no trail lighting, visitors are encouraged to go during daylight hours.
The Preserve has several trails that meander through its diverse biomes. For that reason, we strongly recommend visitors study the Tamarack Nature Preserve Map (PDF), as formal way-finding trail signage is not yet complete.
There is a long trail around the perimeter of the entire preserve and two parallel north-south boardwalks. The perimeter trail is paved asphalt along its southern and western portions and "rustic" along the northern and eastern half. The two north-south trails are newly renovated wood boardwalks that traverse the Preserve's fen. Rustic woodland paths on the Preserve's perimeter are cleared of vegetation, either bare soil or covered with woodchips. They may be wet in some places and are accessible by foot year-round. The non-paved sections of the trail are not suited to bicycles.
The trails are relatively easy to traverse with good footwear, providing conditions are not too wet or icy. Small children will enjoy the simple playground near the parking lot, which also features a picnic table and portable toilets.
Please be aware that, as with any wild place, there are plants in the preserve you'll want to avoid touching. They include poison ivy, poison sumac, wild parsnip, stinging nettles (aka "itchweed"), and poison hemlock.
The most popular loop trail starts at the main parking lot off of Tower Drive. It takes about 20 to 30 minutes to cover at a relaxed pace, though the entire trail system is much larger. There are other access points to the trails from the Evergreen neighborhood to the north of the Preserve, as well as from Bielenberg Drive to the west, the Woodpark neighborhood to the south, and the City Centre commercial development to the east (where local restaurants such as Caribou Coffee, Brueggers and Punch Pizza are located).
Make sure to bring a camera to capture and share what you observe, particularly if using a community-based nature app such as iNaturalist or eBird. Please also visit our Facebook page and share your sightings.
For general questions about this and other area parks and trails, contact the Woodbury Parks and Recreation Department at 651-714-3583 or via email.
This Place of Beauty Needs Our Care
As a visitor to the Tamarack Nature Preserve, you can experience great health and wellness benefits from immersing yourself in nature. Please help keep this unique ecosystem as pristine and safe as possible, both for humans and for the wild living things that call the preserve home.
Events at the Preserve
The Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards host various events and activities throughout the year. Check back for more information!
Virtual Nature Center
The Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards host unique events and activities at the Tamarack Nature Preserve year-round. Visit the Virtual Nature Center to explore more about the Tamarack Nature Preserve.
Larix laricina, also known as tamarack or larch, is a deciduous conifer whose soft needles turn golden in the fall, drop from the tree and return each spring. The tamarack cones are tiny, and first-year growth starts as pink, then turns deep red followed by crispy brown by fall. Tamaracks grow slowly and need dry soil conditions to set roots, though they are often found thriving in wetlands. Tamaracks often make hospitable habitats for great biodiversity of plants and, in turn, birds and other animals.
A fen is a wetland much like a bog, with a deep peat-based material, water, and specialized plants. Unlike a bog, however, a fen is groundwater-dependent and the water flows (in this case, to Battle Creek Lake and onto the Mississippi River), making it less acidic than a bog. Floating hummocks (islands within a fen or bog that are not solidly tethered to the shore) can sometimes be observed slowly turning in the wind or by the flowing current. The Tamarack Nature Preserve is considered a "rich fen" as well as being classified as a "tamarack swamp." And even though the word swamp may have a negative connotation, it is a true scientific term that simply means a forested wetland. Think of it as one of nature's great filtration solutions!
Imagine the Tamarack Nature Preserve 10,000 to 12,000 Years Ago
According to archaeological research, people have inhabited Minnesota for over 12,000 years. When this particular tamarack swamp was formed 10,000-12,000 years ago and the last glaciers in the region were retreating, mastodons, wooly mammoth, and saber-tooth cats also roamed the area. Read this interesting historical piece from Minnesota Archaeology to learn more about the first people in our area.
The Tamarack Nature Preserve has its share of unhealthy invasive plant species that choke out important native species and can change the nature of a whole biome. They include purple loosestrife and the narrow-leaved cattail, as opposed to the important native broad-leaved cattail. These are found within the wetland area. The woodland portion of the Preserve is invaded by buckthorn (a fast-spreading understory shrub), common burdock, common tansy, garlic mustard, and wild parsnip. We are working with the City of Woodbury and the Ramsey-Washington Metro Watershed District to find the best ways to remove these damaging species while preserving the home of native species that share the same habitat, and some of our group activities are directed to invasive species education and removal.
Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards
The Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards are volunteer community members who are part of the City of Woodbury's Adopt-a-Park program. The Stewards aim to keep the site as close to its native state as possible while educating and inspiring visitors of all ages and backgrounds to engage in environmental stewardship and enjoyment within the Preserve.
Goals & Achievements
- The Tamarack Nature Preserve Stewards work with the City of Woodbury and the Ramsey-Washington Watershed District to develop long-term plans for improving and conserving the natural state of the Preserve.
- The Stewards help organize group tours of the Preserve for people of varying abilities, ages, and interests.
- The Stewards have developed a community-based field guide for the Tamarack Nature Preserve - using the iNaturalist app - and encourage visitors to add their observations to the guide.
- The Stewards organize periodic volunteer service activities to remove invasive species and collect trash.
- The Stewards' work has inspired local residents and been recognized for its advocacy and community engagement model.
- The Stewards designed a virtual nature center using new technologies while working with partners to improve signage and create more accessible trails.
- The ultimate goal is to encourage more visitors to the Tamarack Nature Preserve and to inspire a sense of conservation for this fragile and unique wetland.