Native yellow sunflowers in a field
Graphical banner reads: Scavenger Hunt 2023

Scavenger Hunt at Gooseberry Falls State Park

Please note: The official 2023 season is finished. There are no more weekly drawings. However, you are still welcome to enjoy the hunts.

Welcome! You are tasked with finding "items" from these categories:

  • Trees
  • Wildflowers
  • Arthropods
  • Birds
  • Mushrooms & Lichens
  • Signs of wildlife
  • Amphibians & Reptiles

Happy scavenging!



Note: The icon below shows # of entries at this park for this year.
Banner reads: trees

Leaf: Rounded with saw-tooth edge. Leafstalk is flattened, which allow it to "quake" in the breeze.
Try: If you find a leaf try rolling it by its stem with your fingers to feel the way it moves.
Bark: Greenish-white and smooth upper with black splotches. Base is grayish and furrowed.

photos: MnDNR

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Tree - Quaking Aspen

Needles: Flat and scale-like and have aromatic scent.
Bark: Gray to reddish brown, separating in long, vertical shreddy strips.
Found: In moist, rocky places.

photo: MnDNR

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Tree - White Cedar

Needles: Lay flat on twig and each needle is flat, soft and blunt-tipped.
Bark: Smoothish gray with horizontal ridges.
Smell: When needles are broken they give off a smell that reminds many people of Christmas.

photos: MnDNR

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balsam fir branch and trunk
Banner reads: Wildflowers

Blooms: June - July
Found: In part-sun to full sun in fields and along wood edges.
Petals: Light to dark pink with 5 rounded petals

photo: Benny Mazur / FlickrCC

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Pink flower with five petals

Blooms: June - August
Found: Wood edges and along lakeshores.
Petals: A spike of pink flowers.
Fun Fact: Famous for being one of the first flowers to appear after a wildfire.

photo: George Chernilevsky / Wikimedia CC

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Flower - Fireweed

Blooms: June - September Plant is 1-3 feet tall.
Found: In sunny, wet ditches and shores.
Petals: Flowers are on spikes 2-5 inches tall. They attract bumblebees and other important pollinators.

photo: Andrew C / Wikimedia CC

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Flower - BlueVervain
Banner reads: Arthropods

Found: Near tall grasses in late summer and fall.
Fun Fact: They are jumping phenoms, leaping 20 times their body length, which equates to a human jumping 120 feet.

photo: Will Brown / WikiMedia CC

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Grasshopper in studio setting

This water beetle is usually found swimming on the surface of a lake or pond where they swim wildly in circles. This movement makes small waves, which may help them find insects to eat via echolocation.

Udo Schmidt from Deutschland, CC via Wikimedia Commons & Under the same moon via Flickr CC

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Beetle floating on water

Appearance: 140 species in MN come in a rainbow of colors.
Dragonfly: Bigger and keep wings spread out when resting.
Damselfly: Smaller and close their wings when resting.
Fun Fact: They can fly upside down, backward, and turn 360° on a dime.

photos: John Wright / Flickr CC; Jim Johnson / iNaturalist CC; Wayne Fidler / iNaturalist CC

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Three photos showing different species of dragonfly
Banner reads: Birds

Appearance: White with gray wings, yellow bill with black ring.
Found: In lakes, ponds, streams and parking lots.

photo: Mdf / Wikimedia CC

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Ring Billed Gull

Appearance: Flies in swooping pattern with yellow feathers flashing with each flap.
Found: At forest edges or in open fields with scattered trees.

photo: Keith Williams/ FlickrCC

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two birds clinging to wood post

Appearance: Largest woodpecker in MN, about the size of a crow. Red crest.
Found: In the forest, perched on tree trunks where they hammer holes in search of insects to eat.

photo: Will Stenberg / P&TC photo contest

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Bird with red head clinging to tree
Banner reads: Mushrooms and Lichen

Blooms: June - September
Found: In shady forests under pine needles.
Petals: Ghostly white.
Fun Fact: Technically, this is a flower, but it doesn't need the sun to grow and relies on underground fungi.

photo: Checkermallow / FlickrCC

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Flower - Ghost Pipe

Appearance: Tiny fungi (less than 1/2 inch) that really do look like tiny bird's nests with eggs.
Found: In damp areas (after a rain) on sticks, wood chips, or humus. They do not grow on logs or bare ground.
CAUTION: Never eat any mushroom unless knowledgeable.

photo: Jo Zimny / Flickr CC

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Birds Nest Fungi
Banner reads: Human Made

Everybody poops, and sometimes we're lucky enough to find proof on the trail. Rabbit and deer (photo) poop/scat are like rounded pellets. Carnivores often have fur in their droppings.

photo: Kevin Casper / CC0 public domain

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pile of deer droppings in grass

Many animals, such as squirrels, raccoons, owls, bats, weasels, porcupines, songbirds, and others, make their homes inside tree holes. The holes can occur from tree decay or broken branches, or else with the help of woodpeckers. While it's rare to see the occupant, let's assume it's a home for someone.

photo: Lorianne DiSabato / Flickr CC

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(possible animal den)

Raccoon in a tree hole

Squirrels love to eat pinecone seeds. You may come across a pinecone cob and scales in a pile called middens that the squirrel left behind. Some middens get a few feet deep under a squirrel's favorite lunch spot.

photo: Lorianne DiSabato / Flickr CC

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Banner reads: Amphibians and reptiles

Color: Black with 3 yellow lengthwise stripes.
Found: In the brush or sunning themselves on a paved trail.
No need to fear these reptiles who mind their own business.

photo: Christina Butler/Wikimedia CC

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Garter snake in leaves

There are two tree frog species in MN, which look similar. Both are about 1 inch. They change colors in seconds to match their surroundings, varying from greens to grays.

photo: Richard Crook / Flickr cc & Fredlyfish4, CC 4.0 via Wikimedia

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Fill in the following information to be entered in our weekly drawing for a $25 gift card to Minnesota State Parks, which will be mailed to the winner. Weekly winners are randomly selected from entries to ALL participating parks and trails—only one entry per park each summer. However, you are welcome to participate and enter the drawing at multiple parks' this summer.

Please note: For anyone age 12 and under, please enter adult companion's info.

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