Pine Bend Scientific & Natural Area features some of the best views of the Upper Mississippi River, not to mention one of the largest and most diverse ecosystems remaining in the metro area. It is located between Highway 52 and the Mississippi River in Inver Grove Heights.
This favorite of birdwatchers and others seeking adventure not too far from home features 200-foot bluffs that overlook the river, oak savanna, forests and prairie. It is one of the least disturbed sites along the river in the Twin Cities.
Pine Bend is home to a plethora of wildlife — waterfowl, turkey, deer, coyotes and fox, as well as several rare and endangered plants and animals. Located in the Mississippi Flyway, it is a vital breeding and resting area for hundreds of bird species that migrate the river corridor annually.
It’s a wonderful place to watch the spring and fall migrations — when tundra swans, pelicans, waterfowl, hawks and eagles pass through. In spring and early summer visitors can enjoy native Minnesota wildflowers such as hepatica, bloodroot, wild ginger and jack-in-the-pulpit bloom beneath the oaks.
Dry to mesic oak forests dominate the site's rugged terrain, complemented by stands of white pine on north-facing slopes, dry prairies on south- and east-facing slopes, and black ash seepage swamp at the river's edge.
Please note there are no trails or facilities available in this highly protected park. However, the Mississippi River Regional Trail passes through the site (see detail map). Bikes are only allowed on the trail. The Mississippi River Water Trail is adjacent to this site.
Restoration at this site is conducted by Friends of the Mississippi River ecologists and visitors, with several volunteer habitat restoration events annually.