Sure, our giant trees aren’t anything like those in California…but they’re giant to us! And it’s super cool to bike, hike, ski or paddle by them.
Ever since I started taking pictures for Twin Cities Outdoors in our local parks, I’ve noticed and photographed the giant trees I see. If a friend or family member is with me, I force them to hug it, for context 🙂
(It just isn’t the same if I’m alone—a selfie does no justice to the size of a tree.)
I just love them!
One of my Bucket List dreams is to get to California to see the redwoods and sequoias. Until I do, I keep loving the giant trees we have right here.
Minnesota’s largest tree is the cottonwood, so you’ll see a few of those in these photos. Our second largest tree is the white pine, although the biggest ones are up north, not here in the Cities. I included one or two others here, too.
(If you know your trees better than I do, feel free to correct me on these!)
NOTE: I’m only listing the giants I’ve come across in our local parks, not on private property or other government land:
Local Cottonwood Giants
Cottonwoods can be a nuisance. I know, we have a huge one in our yard. But I love their deeply-grooved bark, the shade they offer and the massive size they can grow to.
Cottonwoods love lots of sun and plenty of moisture. There are many huge ones in the Minneapolis and Saint Paul downtown areas along the Mississippi and Minnesota Rivers and Minnehaha Creek.
Fun Fact: If the cottonwood near you drops sticky seeds and then the fluffy cotton they’re named for (like snow in summer), it’s a female tree. The males don’t seed.
I’m not sure that this one is a cottonwood—the bark doesn’t look quite as deep as the others. But, it’s one big tree:
Local Multi-Trunk Giants
These are different in that they’re multi-trunk trees. Fall color season is a good time to ID some of these trees, especially the maples.
Can you imagine the spread of this one below? This beauty is providing a LOT of shade!
It’s always fun to imagine how much change these giants have lived through. If they could talk, what stories they could tell!
Minnesota’s largest butternut tree is in Roseville’s Reservoir Woods Park (thanks to reader Heidi M. for the tip!):
Local White Pine Giants
Even though our urban white pines aren’t as giant as the ones up north, I have to include a couple of them because it’s one of my favorite trees.
This one technically isn’t in the metro, it’s in Banning State Park, just an hour north of us:
Other than the paper birch, white pine were the first trees I learned to identify in the Boundary Waters back in the day. I think that’s why I love them so much. They stand like sentinels high above everything else with their “furry” needles and tall, straight trunks.
If you’re a tree lover, too, you probably have your own set of favorite trees. We’re blessed to live in a state with an abundance of them!