Location: Zimmerman, Minnesota
Webpage: National Wildlife Refuge
General Description: Established in 1965, Sherburne National Wildlife Refuge seeks to promote the health and well being of migratory birds and their habitat. The upland habitats range from open grasslands and prairies to oak savanna to forests. Interspersed are a variety of water habitats from sedge meadow to deep water marshes that change with the seasons. The diversity of habitats are due to its location on the edge of the “Big Woods” where the western prairie meet the forests of northern Minnesota. The majority of the refuge is closed to the public from March to August to allow wildlife to breed and raise their young. However, there are a few trails close to the Visitor Center and a 7 mile driving tour that provides examples of all the habitat on the refuge.
1) The Visitor Center is a small facility with just a few exhibits about the wildlife on the refuge. However, it is an excellent opportunity to gather information about the hiking trails and driving tour.
2) Depending upon the time of year, the trails can be very “buggy” with deer flies divebombing hikers. This is especially the case for wet springs and early summer. However, a good breeze can make all the difference. Due to these conditions we decided not to hike any of the trails close to the Visitor Center, relying on the short hikes along the driving tour to give examples of the habitats on the refuge.
3) The driving tour is a 7 mile loop with three short walks in an oak savanna, sedge marsh, and oak forest, respectively. There are also numerous stops alongside the small lakes and ponds that were populated by trumpeter swans, Canadian geese, cormorants, and other waterfowl. Even with the buggy conditions, the drive was well worth it.