Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge

Chaska Unit

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Area and County

Carver County





600 acres


USFWS Chaska Trail Map


North Parking (Athletic Park - may be closed)
N44 46.814, W93 36.545

South Parking (Riverfront Park)
N44 46.014, W93 37.028

Hiking Trails

Chaska Trail (natural surface): 3.4 miles (round trip)


No hunting

Ecological Classification


Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Classification


Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal


Big Woods

Land Type Association(s)

Le Sueur Alluvial Plain

Maple Plain Moraine

Native Plant Communities1

Not mapped (3/30/2017)

Natural Features

Riverbottom silver maple forest; old field restored to floodplain forest; Chaska Lake; a slough; marsh; managed wetland areas (closed to the public); and a very large, old growth plains cottonwood.



U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service


The Chaska Unit is one of eight units that make up the Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge. It lies on the north bank of the Minnesota River in an outer Twin Cities suburb. South of the river is the Minnesota Valley State Recreation Area, Lawrence Unit. This site is part of a much larger area that has been designated as the Lower Minnesota River Valley Important Bird Area (IBA). A hiking trail passes through riverbottom forest along the bank of the Minnesota River. A point of interest is a giant plains cottonwood next to the trail large enough to be included on the printed map.

Athletic Park may be closed with a locked gate across the entrance road if there is no ball game in progress. When it is locked park in the cul-de-sac. In Riverfront Park, park at the boat launch at the end of the park road.

Hiking Trail
The Chaska Lake Trail follows an administrative road. It leads 1.7 miles from Riverfront Park at the south to Athletic Park at the north. Visitors are asked to remain on the established trails in order to protect the wildlife.






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South Entrance (Riverfront Park)

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit    

South Parking

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit    

Informatioon Kiosk

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit    

North Entrance (Athletic Park)

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit    

Riverbottom Forest

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit   Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit

Minnesota River

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit    

Trail (Administrative Road)

  Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit   Minnesota Valley National Wildlife Refuge, Chaska Unit









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USFWS Wildlife Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units)


northern leopard frog (Rana pipiens)

northern leopard frog


One bird species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen on this unit:


Special concern

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)


USFWS Bird Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units)


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Robin (Turdus migratorius)

American White Pelican (Pelecanus erythrorhynchos)

Black-capped Chickadee (Poecile atricapillus)

Blue Jay (Cyanocitta cristata)

Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)

Downy Woodpecker (Picoides pubescens)

Hairy Woodpecker (Picoides villosus)

House Wren (Troglodytes aedon)

Northern Harrier (Circus cyaneus)

Red-bellied Woodpecker (Melanerpes carolinus)

Tundra Swan (Cygnus columbianus)

White-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta carolinensis)

Yellow-rumped Warbler (Setophaga coronata)

Blue Jay

Canada Goose

Tundra Swan

White-breasted Nuthatch

Fungi and Lichens

Oyster Mushroom (Pleurotus ostreatus)

Oyster Mushroom

Insects and Arachnids

USFWS Damselfly and Dragonfly Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units)

USFWS Wildlife Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units) (butterflies)


grape leaf miner moth (Phyllocnistis vitifoliella)



USFWS Wildlife Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units)


eastern fox squirrel (Sciurus niger)

eastern fox squirrel



American basswood (Tilia americana var. americana)

American black currant (Ribes americanum)

American elm (Ulmus americana)

Amur maple (Acer ginnala)

Aunt Lucy (Ellisia nyctelea)

barnyard grass (Echinochloa crus-galli)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

Blue Ridge carrionflower (Smilax lasioneura)

boxelder (Acer negundo var. negundo)

bristly greenbrier (Smilax tamnoides)

bur cucumber (Sicyos angulatus)

Canada anemone (Anemone canadensis)

Canada moonseed (Menispermum canadense)

Canada thistle (Cirsium arvense)

Canadian clearweed (Pilea pumila)

Canadian horseweed (Conyza canadensis)

Canadian woodnettle (Laportea canadensis)

common blue violet (Viola sororia)

common buckthorn (Rhamnus cathartica)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common plantain (Plantago major)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common tansy (Tanacetum vulgare)

common threeseed mercury (Acalypha rhomboidea)

cut-leaved coneflower (Rudbeckia laciniata var. laciniata)

desert false indigo (Amorpha fruticosa)

eastern black nightshade (Solanum ptychanthum)

field horsetail (Equisetum arvense)

gallant soldier (Galinsoga parviflora var. parviflora)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

green carpetweed (Mollugo verticillata)

green foxtail (Setaria viridis var. viridis)

ground ivy (Glechoma hederacea)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium)

Indian hemp (Apocynum cannabinum)

nodding bur marigold (Bidens cernua)

northern hackberry (Celtis occidentalis)

ostrich fern (Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica)

peachleaf willow (Salix amygdaloides)

Pennsylvania smartweed (Persicaria pensylvanica)

plains cottonwood (Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera)

poke milkweed (Asclepias exaltata)

prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata)

prairie ironweed (Vernonia fasciculata ssp. fasciculata)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

purple-stem beggarticks (Bidens connata)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

redroot amaranth (Amaranthus retroflexus)

rock elm (Ulmus thomasii)

rough cinquefoil (Potentilla norvegica)

rough cocklebur (Xanthium strumarium)

sandbar willow (Salix interior)

shepherd’s purse (Capsella bursa-pastoris)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

silver maple (Acer saccharinum)

spotted lady’s thumb (Persicaria maculosa)

spreading dogbane (Apocynum androsaemifolium)

stinging nettle (Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis)

three-lobe beggarticks (Bidens tripartita)

velvet-leaf (Abutilon theophrasti)

water smartweed (Persicaria amphibia)

white snakeroot (Ageratina altissima var. altissima)

white vervain (Verbena urticifolia)

wild cucumber (Echinocystis lobata)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

woodland horsetail (Equisetum sylvaticum)

yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila ssp. pumila)

yellow wood sorrel (Oxalis stricta)


Abutilon theophrasti (velvet-leaf)

Acalypha rhomboidea (common threeseed mercury)

Acer ginnala (Amur maple)

Acer negundo var. negundo (boxelder)

Acer saccharinum (silver maple)

Ageratina altissima var. altissima (white snakeroot)

Amaranthus retroflexus (redroot amaranth)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Amorpha fruticosa (desert false indigo)

Anemone canadensis (Canada anemone)

Apocynum androsaemifolium (spreading dogbane)

Apocynum cannabinum (Indian hemp)

Asclepias exaltata (poke milkweed)

Bidens cernua (nodding bur marigold)

Bidens connata (purple-stem beggarticks)

Bidens tripartita (three-lobe beggarticks)

Calystegia sepium (hedge bindweed)

Capsella bursa-pastoris (shepherd’s purse)

Celtis occidentalis (northern hackberry)

Cirsium arvense (Canada thistle)

Conyza canadensis (Canadian horseweed)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (red osier dogwood)

Echinochloa crus-galli (barnyard grass)

Echinocystis lobata (wild cucumber)

Ellisia nyctelea (Aunt Lucy)

Equisetum arvense (field horsetail)

Equisetum sylvaticum (woodland horsetail)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Galinsoga parviflora var. parviflora (gallant soldier)

Glechoma hederacea (ground ivy)

Laportea canadensis (Canadian woodnettle)

Matteuccia struthiopteris var. pensylvanica (ostrich fern)

Menispermum canadense (Canada moonseed)

Mollugo verticillata (green carpetweed)

Oxalis stricta (yellow wood sorrel)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Persicaria amphibia (water smartweed)

Persicaria maculosa (spotted lady’s thumb)

Persicaria pensylvanica (Pennsylvania smartweed)

Pilea pumila (Canadian clearweed)

Plantago major (common plantain)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Populus deltoides ssp. molinifera (plains cottonwood)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Potentilla norvegica (rough cinquefoil)

Rhamnus cathartica (common buckthorn)

Ribes americanum (American black currant)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rudbeckia laciniata var. laciniata (cut-leaved coneflower)

Salix amygdaloides (peachleaf willow)

Salix interior (sandbar willow)

Setaria pumila ssp. pumila (yellow foxtail)

Setaria viridis var. viridis (green foxtail)

Sicyos angulatus (bur cucumber)

Smilax lasioneura (Blue Ridge carrionflower)

Smilax tamnoides (bristly greenbrier)

Solanum ptychanthum (eastern black nightshade)

Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass)

Tanacetum vulgare (common tansy)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Tilia americana var. americana (American basswood)

Ulmus americana (American elm)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Ulmus thomasii (rock elm)

Urtica dioica ssp. gracilis (stinging nettle)

Verbena urticifolia (white vervain)

Vernonia fasciculata ssp. fasciculata (prairie ironweed)

Viola sororia (common blue violet)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Xanthium strumarium (rough cocklebur)

Amur maple

Canada anemone

common blue violet

common dandelion

common tansy

desert false indigo

ground ivy

hedge bindweed

nodding bur marigold

poke milkweed

prickly rose

rough cinquefoil

spreading dogbane

swamp smartweed

wild grape

yellow wood sorrel

American black currant


USFWS Wildlife Checklist (Minnesota Valley NWR, All Units)


common garter snake (Thamnophis sirtalis)

common garter snake




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