1 acre (leased from St. Louis County) but we utilize the surrounding hundreds of acres of county land.
**WELCOME CENTER BUILDING IS OPEN DAILY 10AM-3PM MID-DECEMBER THROUGH MID-MARCH**
Activities at this tract:
Each season has a different set of activities to offer. During the winter two dozen bird feeders are maintained, with a half dozen deer rib cages placed around to attract woodpeckers, chickadees, Canada Jays, crows, ravens, and in some years, magpies and Ermine (Short-tailed Weasel)!
During the summer our bird feeders are not maintained, however, we do have a Butterfly Garden maintained next to the parking lot that attracts many pollinators. There are also several hummingbird feeders in the garden.
Snowshoeing/hiking trails are marked for summer and winter use. We have two different trails around this property, the Welcome Center Trails accessed just outside the Welcome Center, as well as our longer Gray Jay Way trail. Information on trails can be found here.
Species of Interest:
Many exciting species have been recorded at this location…I guess it is the “Patagonia Rest Area Effect.”…when many talented birders and naturalists come to a nondescript spot in the midst of a huge habitat, many cool species are found.
Winter species— Semi-regular visitors include Gray Jays, Pine Grosbeaks, Common and Hoary Redpolls, Black-capped Chickadees, Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Ravens, Blue Jays. Less regular species include Ruffed Grouse, Pileated Woodpecker. Rare species recorded here include Great Gray Owl, Northern Hawk Owl, Black-billed Magpie, Ermine, Gray Fox, Bobcat, Red Fox, Snowshoe Hare. There are a number of interesting lichen species found around the Welcome Center during the winter, as well as ample opportunities to track critters along the trails.
Spring/Summer/Fall species—During the last half of May, this is a good spot to start your birding day… warblers can be found along the trails, as well as nesting species like Ovenbird and Mourning Warbler. However, much of the diversity comes in the form of non-birds! The Welcome Center area is rich in spider and moth diversity, as well as unique plants like Naked Miterwort, Rugulose Grapefern, and common species like Bunchberry and Leatherleaf. The bog just to the north of the Welcome Center is home to Lincoln’s Sparrow, Palm Warbler, Hermit Thrush, and Yellow-bellied Flycatcher, as well as pitcher plants and sundew!
There is a 15-car parking lot.
A large sign along Owl Avenue marks the spot of the Welcome Center. (There are no signs directing folks to this site though)
Address- 8793 Owl Avenue, Toivola, MN 55765
The Welcome Center is located about 1.5 miles south of Arkola/CR52 on Owl Avenue.
Directions from Cotton, MN: From Hwy 53 head west on CR52/Arkola for 11 miles. Turn left from Arkola Road to Owl Avenue. Continue south 1.75 miles passed the second curve to the Welcome Center.
Directions from south end of Bog, on Cty 133: From Hwy 53 head west on Cty 133 toward Meadowlands. Continue on Cty 133 across Hwy 7. You will cross the Whiteface River and west of the crossing you will find Cty 229/29. Take a right and continue north to a T in the road at Correction Line Road. Take a left here and continue around the corner, where the road changes names to Owl Avenue. Continue north for about 2.5 miles to the Welcome Center.