McKnight Prairie


Area and County

    Goodhue County
    Southeast Minnesota

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33½ acres


McKnight Prairie brochure with map (Carleton College)


 Printable Maps with GPS coordinates

Printable map    

N44 30.052, W93 2.095

Hiking Trails

There are no maintained trails. A well worn footpath leads from the gap in the fence at the parking area to the ridgetop of West Hill. From there, it follows the ridgetop to the eastern boundary of the site. There are no other trails.


No hunting

Ecological Classification Province  

Eastern Broadleaf Forest Province

Ecological Classification

Minnesota & NE Iowa Morainal


Oak Savanna

Land Type Association(s)

Hayfield Till Plain

Native Plant Communities1 Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern)
Natural Features

Ordovician (485.4 to 443.4 million years ago) St. Peter sandstone, glacial erratics, sandy blowouts



Cowling Arboretum


Hilltop Junipers
The “Hilltop Juniper” shown on map provided by Carleton College (see Maps above) has been cut down. In 2013, the grayed skeleton of the downed tree was all that remained. There is another juniper tree close to the ridgeline near the eastern border of the site. In September 2013, it was heavily loaded with a good crop of greenish, berry-like cones. In April 2018, it was knocked over, uprooted, and dying.








Visitor Photos

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  McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie
  McKnight Prairie    

Gap in Fence

  McKnight Prairie    

Well Worn Footpath

  McKnight Prairie    

West Hill

  McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie
  McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie

Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern)

  McKnight Prairie    

Sandy Areas

  McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie

East Hill

  McKnight Prairie    

Hilltop Juniper

  McKnight Prairie   McKnight Prairie
  2013   2018



  McKnight Prairie Reservation
  McKnight Prairie Reservation  
  VIsiting McKnight Prairie
Christopher Tassava
  VIsiting McKnight Prairie  



Visitor Videos

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Other Videos
  Dickcissel at McKnight Prairie

Published on Jun 13, 2012

No description available.

  Variegated Meadowhawk (Sympetrum corruptum)
Scott King

Published on Mar 15, 2013

Female Variegated Meadowhawk filmed at the McKnight Prairie in Dakota County, Minnesota, on April 5, 2012.




Visitor Sightings

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One bird species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:



Loggerhead Shrike (Lanius ludovicianus)


eBird Field Checklist


American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos)

American Tree Sparrow (Spizelloides arborea)

Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Brown Thrasher (Toxostoma rufum)

Field Sparrow (Spizella pusilla)

Mourning Dove (Zenaida macroura)

Northern Cardinal (Cardinalis cardinalis)

Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus)

Red-tailed Hawk (Buteo jamaicensis)

Ring-necked Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)

Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia)

Turkey Vulture (Cathartes aura)

Brown Thrasher

Mourning Dove

Northern Cardinal

Insects and Arachnids

The Butterflies of McKnight Prairie

McKnight Prairie Ant Species List

McKnight Prairie Orthoptera Species List


black swallowtail (Papilio polyxenes)

common green darner (Anax junius)

eastern tailed-blue (Cupido comyntas)

goldenrod bunch gall midge (Rhopalomyia solidaginis)

goldenrod gall fly (Eurosta solidaginis)

goldenrod soldier beetle (Chauliognathus pennsylvanicus)

milkweed tussock moth (Euchaetes egle)

monarch (Danaus plexippus)

goldenrod gall fly

goldenrod soldier beetle


One mammal species with conservation status in Minnesota has been seen here:


Special concern

prairie vole (Microtus ochrogaster)


eastern gray squirrel (Sciurus carolinensis)

plains pocket gopher (Geomys bursarius)

whitetail deer (Odocoileus virginianus)

plains pocket gopher


Eight plant species with conservation status in Minnesota and two species on the watch list are found here:



winter bentgrass (Agrostis hyemalis)



kitten-tails (Veronica bullii)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)


Special concern

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

purple sand grass (Triplasis purpurea)

rattlesnake master (Eryngium yuccifolium var. yuccifolium)

rhombic evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala)

white wild indigo (Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)


Watch list

bushy cinquefoil (Potentilla supina ssp. paradoxa)

long-bearded hawkweed (Hieracium longipilum)


Cowling Arboretum (Carleton College) Plant List

Minnesota Biodiversity Atlas Plant List


Plants frequently found in:

Dry Bedrock Bluff Prairie (Southern) UPs13c



American bittersweet (Celastrus scandens)

American germander (Teucrium canadense)

American pasqueflower (Anemone patens var. multifida)

big bluestem (Andropogon gerardi)

black raspberry (Rubus occidentalis)

black walnut (Juglans nigra) (parking area)

black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima)

black-seeded plantain (Plantago rugelii var. rugelii)

Canadian horseweed (Conyza canadensis)

Canadian tick-trefoil (Desmodium canadense)

candle anemone (Anemone cylindrica)

Carolina whitlowgrass (Draba reptans)

catnip (Nepeta cataria)

chokecherry (Prunus virginiana var. virginiana)

clammy groundcherry (Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla)

common dandelion (Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale)

common evening primrose (Oenothera biennis)

common milkweed (Asclepias syriaca)

common mullein (Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus)

common ragweed (Ambrosia artemisiifolia)

common sheep sorrel (Rumex acetosella)

common strawberry (Fragaria virginiana)

common yarrow (Achillea millefolium)

compass plant (Silphium laciniatum)

curly dock (Rumex crispus)

downy phlox (Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida)

eastern redcedar (Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana)

eastern white pine (Pinus strobus)

false boneset (Brickellia eupatorioides var. corymbulosa)

field sagewort (Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata)

flowering spurge (Euphorbia corollata)

giant ragweed (Ambrosia trifida)

golden alexanders (Zizia aurea)

gray goldenrod (Solidago nemoralis)

gray-headed coneflower (Ratibida pinnata)

green ash (Fraxinus pennsylvanica)

green milkweed (Asclepias viridiflora)

grooved yellow flax (Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum)

hairy false goldenaster (Heterotheca villosa)

hairy sunflower (Helianthus hirsutus)

heart-leaved golden alexanders (Zizia aptera)

hedge bindweed (Calystegia sepium ssp. angulata)

hoary alyssum (Berteroa incana)

hoary vervain (Verbena stricta)

Indiangrass (Sorghastrum nutans)

Jerusalem artichoke (Helianthus tuberosus)

June grass (Koeleria macrantha)

large-flowered beardtongue (Penstemon grandiflorus)

leadplant (Amorpha canescens)

little bluestem (Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium)

narrow-leaved hawkweed (Hieracium umbellatum)

narrow-leaved purple coneflower (Echinacea angustifolia)

New England aster (Symphyotrichum novae-angliae)

Parlin’s pussytoes (Antennaria parlinii ssp. fallax)

plains prickly pear (Opuntia macrorhiza)

plains snake-cotton (Froelichia floridana var. campestris)

plumeless thistle (Carduus acanthoides ssp. acanthoides)

prairie bush clover (Lespedeza leptostachya)

prairie cordgrass (Spartina pectinata)

prairie coreopsis (Coreopsis palmata)

prairie fleabane (Erigeron strigosus)

prairie goldenrod (Solidago ptarmicoides)

prairie onion (Allium stellatum)

prairie peppergrass (Lepidium densiflorum)

prairie rose (Rosa arkansana)

prairie smoke (Geum triflorum var. triflorum)

prairie willow (Salix humilis)

purple lovegrass (Eragrostis spectabilis)

purple prairie clover (Dalea purpurea var. purpurea)

quaking aspen (Populus tremuloides)

rabbit’s foot clover (Trifolium arvense)

rabbit-tobacco (Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium)

red osier dogwood (Cornus sericea ssp. sericea)

red pine (Pinus resinosa)

rhombic evening primrose (Oenothera rhombipetala)

rough blazing star (Liatris aspera var. intermedia)

round-headed bush clover (Lespedeza capitata)

showy goldenrod (Solidago speciosa)

showy partridge pea (Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata)

Siberian elm (Ulmus pumila)

sideoats grama (Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula)

silky prairie clover (Dalea villosa var. villosa)

sky-blue aster (Symphyotrichum oolentangiense var. oolentangiense)

smooth blue aster (Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve)

smooth scouring rush (Equisetum laevigatum)

smooth sumac (Rhus glabra)

spotted beebalm (Monarda punctata var. villicaulis)

stiff goldenrod (Solidago rigida ssp. rigida)

stiff sunflower (Helianthus pauciflorus ssp. subrhomboideus)

tall cinquefoil (Drymocallis arguta)

tall goldenrod (Solidago altissima ssp. altissima)

tall thimbleweed (Anemone virginiana)

timothy (Phleum pratense)

toothed evening primrose (Oenothera serrulata)

Virginia groundcherry (Physalis virginiana var. virginiana)

Virginia mountain mint (Pycnanthemum virginianum)

western poison ivy (Toxicodendron rydbergii)

white heath aster (Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides)

white mulberry (Morus alba)

white panicled aster (Symphyotrichum lanceolatum)

white prairie clover (Dalea candida var. candida)

white sage (Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana)

white sweet clover (Melilotus albus)

white wild indigo (Baptisia alba var. macrophylla)

whorled milkweed (Asclepias verticillata)

wild bergamot (Monarda fistulosa)

wild grape (Vitis riparia)

wild licorice (Glycyrrhiza lepidota)

wild parsnip (Pastinaca sativa)

wolfberry (Symphoricarpos occidentalis)

woodbine (Parthenocissus vitacea)

yellow foxtail (Setaria pumila ssp. pumila)

yellow goat’s beard (Tragopogon dubius)

yellow sweet clover (Melilotus officinalis)


Achillea millefolium (common yarrow)

Allium stellatum (prairie onion)

Ambrosia artemisiifolia (common ragweed)

Ambrosia trifida (giant ragweed)

Amorpha canescens (leadplant)

Andropogon gerardi (big bluestem)

Anemone cylindrica (candle anemone)

Anemone patens var. multifida (American pasqueflower)

Anemone virginiana (tall thimbleweed)

Antennaria parlinii ssp. fallax (Parlin’s pussytoes)

Artemisia campestris ssp. caudata (field sagewort)

Artemisia ludoviciana ssp. ludoviciana (white sage)

Asclepias syriaca (common milkweed)

Asclepias verticillata (whorled milkweed)

Asclepias viridiflora (green milkweed)

Baptisia alba var. macrophylla (white wild indigo)

Berteroa incana (hoary alyssum)

Bouteloua curtipendula var. curtipendula (sideoats grama)

Brickellia eupatorioides var. corymbulosa (false boneset)

Calystegia sepium. ssp. angulata (hedge bindweed)

Carduus acanthoides (plumeless thistle)

Celastrus scandens (American bittersweet)

Chamaecrista fasciculata var. fasciculata (showy partridge pea)

Conyza canadensis (Canadian horseweed)

Coreopsis palmata (prairie coreopsis)

Cornus sericea ssp. sericea (red osier dogwood)

Dalea candida var. candida (white prairie clover)

Dalea purpurea var. purpurea (purple prairie clover)

Dalea villosa var. villosa (silky prairie clover)

Desmodium canadense (Canadian tick-trefoil)

Draba reptans (Carolina whitlowgrass)

Drymocallis arguta (tall cinquefoil)

Echinacea angustifolia (narrow-leaved purple coneflower)

Equisetum laevigatum (smooth scouring rush)

Eragrostis spectabilis (purple lovegrass)

Erigeron strigosus (prairie fleabane)

Euphorbia corollata (flowering spurge)

Fragaria virginiana (common strawberry)

Fraxinus pennsylvanica (green ash)

Froelichia floridana var. campestris (plains snake-cotton)

Geum triflorum var. triflorum (prairie smoke)

Glycyrrhiza lepidota (wild licorice)

Helianthus hirsutus (hairy sunflower)

Helianthus pauciflorus ssp. subrhomboideus (stiff sunflower)

Helianthus tuberosus (Jerusalem artichoke)

Heterotheca villosa (hairy false goldenaster)

Hieracium umbellatum (narrow-leaved hawkweed)

Juglans nigra (black walnut)

Juniperus virginiana var. virginiana (eastern redcedar)

Koeleria macrantha (June grass)

Lepidium densiflorum (prairie peppergrass)

Lespedeza capitata (round-headed bush clover)

Lespedeza leptostachya (prairie bush clover)

Liatris aspera var. intermedia (rough blazing star)

Linum sulcatum var. sulcatum (grooved yellow flax)

Melilotus albus (white sweet clover)

Melilotus officinalis (yellow sweet clover)

Monarda fistulosa (wild bergamot)

Monarda punctata var. villicaulis (spotted beebalm)

Morus alba (white mulberry)

Nepeta cataria (catnip)

Oenothera biennis (common evening primrose)

Oenothera rhombipetala (rhombic evening primrose)

Oenothera serrulata (toothed evening primrose)

Opuntia macrorhiza (plains prickly pear)

Parthenocissus vitacea (woodbine)

Pastinaca sativa (wild parsnip)

Penstemon grandiflorus (large-flowered beardtongue)

Phleum pratense (timothy)

Phlox pilosa ssp. fulgida (downy phlox)

Physalis heterophylla var. heterophylla (clammy groundcherry)

Physalis virginiana var. virginiana (Virginia groundcherry)

Pinus resinosa (red pine)

Pinus strobus (eastern white pine)

Plantago rugelii var. rugelii (black-seeded plantain)

Populus tremuloides (quaking aspen)

Prunus virginiana var. virginiana (chokecherry)

Pseudognaphalium obtusifolium (rabbit-tobacco)

Pycnanthemum virginianum (Virginia mountain mint)

Ratibida pinnata (gray-headed coneflower)

Rhus glabra (smooth sumac)

Rosa arkansana (prairie rose)

Rubus occidentalis (black raspberry)

Rudbeckia hirta var. pulcherrima (black-eyed Susan)

Rumex acetosella (common sheep sorrel)

Rumex crispus (curly dock)

Salix humilis (prairie willow)

Schizachyrium scoparium var. scoparium (little bluestem)

Setaria pumila ssp. pumila (yellow foxtail)

Silphium laciniatum (compass plant)

Solidago altissima ssp. altissima (tall goldenrod)

Solidago nemoralis (gray goldenrod)

Solidago ptarmicoides (prairie goldenrod)

Solidago rigida ssp. rigida (stiff goldenrod)

Solidago speciosa (showy goldenrod)

Sorghastrum nutans (Indiangrass)

Spartina pectinata (prairie cordgrass)

Symphoricarpos occidentalis (wolfberry)

Symphyotrichum ericoides var. ericoides (white heath aster)

Symphyotrichum laeve var. laeve (smooth blue aster)

Symphyotrichum lanceolatum (white panicled aster)

Symphyotrichum novae-angliae (New England aster)

Symphyotrichum oolentangiense var. oolentangiense (sky-blue aster)

Taraxacum officinale ssp. officinale (common dandelion)

Teucrium canadense (American germander)

Toxicodendron rydbergii (western poison ivy)

Tragopogon dubius (yellow goat’s beard)

Trifolium arvense (rabbit’s foot clover)

Ulmus pumila (Siberian elm)

Verbascum thapsus ssp. thapsus (common mullein)

Verbena stricta (hoary vervain)

Vitis riparia (wild grape)

Zizia aptera (heart-leaved golden alexanders)

Zizia aurea (golden alexanders)

American germander

American pasqueflower

black raspberry

black-eyed Susan

Canadian tick-trefoil

common evening primrose

common mullein

downy phlox

false boneset

gray-headed coneflower

green milkweed

hoary vervain

large-flowered beardtongue


New England aster

plains snake-cotton

prairie onion

prairie rose

purple prairie clover


red osier dogwood

showy partridge pea

tall cinquefoil

toothed evening primrose

Virginia mountain mint

western poison ivy flowers

white wild indigo

whorled milkweed

yellow goat’s beard

yellow sweet clover





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