Tree Trek – scroll down to the number of the tree

HELLO TREE TREKKER! – scroll to bottom of page for a message from Master Gardener Anna.

Visit this new educational feature in Sunfish Lake Park – A cooperative effort of the Washington County Master Gardeners Tree Squad and the Sally Manzara Interpretive Nature Center. It follows a short, wheelchair-accessible path starting just south of the nature center, then across the parking lot and northward and eastward (see map) from a point near Trail Sign # 12 at the northeast corner of the parking lot. Use the QR code on the sign on the metal stake near each marked tree, select the tree number on the sign, and scroll down this page to learn more about that tree. Only a few of the pages are active but we are adding them as we are able. We are hoping to have printed brochures available soon, and to set up scheduled guided tours of this feature of the Park in the year 2024.

A draft of the printable tri-fold brochure is available for downloading:



SCROLL DOWN TO THE LETTER OF THE TREE YOU ARE NEAR, then touch or click its number/name – two descriptions are available now, the others are coming soon! Trees of particular value to Native American Tree Medicine practice are noted as such.


0 Exemplary Tree


1 A Prairie Fire Crabapple

2 A Ash Tree (protected by injection)

3 A Chestnut Crab – UMN 1949

4 A Red Maple

5 C Padoga Dogwood

6 H Hackberry (group of five)

7 B Basswood,

8 F Ash Fraxinus Pennsylvanicus

9 S Norway Spruce

10 American Elm

11 Bur Oak

12 C Black Cherry

13 C Cottonwood family of five

14 B Box Elder

15 Norway or Red Pine

16 Quaking Aspen

17 Gooseberry (shrub)

18 Grapes (vines)

19 H Honeysuckle

20 O White Oak

21 Red Oak – Quercus rubra

22 Q Quaking aspen, populus tremuloides

23 B Paper Birch

24 Silver maple

25 S White Spruce

26 Barren (or Blackjack ) Oak

27 Young Poplar “twins” – look for 2!

28 American Elm

29 Black Cherry

30 Silver maple

31 L Snag (standing dead tree)

32 R Red Maple

33 3 together – L-to-R grey birch, red pine/quaking aspen

34 S Sumac cluster

35 Water Birch

36 Black Gum (off trail a few feet)

37 2 White Spruce Siblings- look across/next to the fence

38 Redbud tree cluster of 7 at trail junction

39 Amur honeysuckle – invasive


100 Template page


Hello Tree Trekker!

Thank you for taking the time to take a hike down our SMINC Tree Trek! 

It’s only about 1000 steps, but along the way you’ll meet almost a whole Alphabet Forest of Trees!

You’ll learn their stories and names – some in Latin, some fancy scientific ones, and some in their native Indigenous names.  

     Our Tree Trek is a “walk in progress” — 

Like you, it’s still growing!  As we learn and share more about our trees and how important they are to our habitat and all creatures, great and small, two-and four-legged plus the birds and the bees, The End, we hope, will be just the beginning of your journey.  

     We hope that you and your loved ones will take the time to learn more about trees and all that they provide for us in our lives.  From wood products and nummy food (yay, apples!) to snacks for birds, too, and homes for our forest friends and more food (yay, acorns!)  The bees and other pollinators that help keep our food system growing also depend on trees and shrubs for their own food and shelter, too.  

     Stop often along the Tree Trek.  

     Look up.

     Guess how high some of these amazing trees are- how old they are. . .

Listen.  To the wind in their leaves, through their branches after the leaves fall.

How they creak and talk to you, even when the ground is covered in snow. . .

This is a Tree Trek for All Seasons!

Take an umbrella in the summer and listen to the rain in the forest.  It’s a magical place.  It has stories to tell, and it also listens to what you share with it.

     And yes:  you CAN hug (gently) our trees!

     Thanks for learning, and have fun!



BACKGROUND – In mid-August 2023, the Washington County Master Gardeners Tree Squad met at SMINC and presented a plan to create an educational “Tree Trek” in Sunfish Lake Park. A grant application was submitted to the $6.8 million Mn-DNR Community Forestry Re-Leaf program Request For Proposals. Our measly $50K project was not selected for funding, but it would have enabled the creation of a multi-lingual, multi-media, wheelchair accessible educational experience focused on many existing trees, and some additional trees to be planted, in the Park. A unique feature would be the inclusion of information about the traditional use of different trees in Native American healing practice. We also included funding to survey local educators about what content would be most useful for their student groups.

After the rejection email message (“Blah Blah NO blah blah blah”) was received, Anna, Kim, Paul, and Tony decided that the idea was too good to ignore and went ahead with a slimmed-down version, which could be the basis of a more ambitious program if and when funding is available. 

With the permission of the City’s Public Works Department head Marty Powers, we placed stakes near each of 39 trees of interest along a wheelchair-friendly route about 1000 ft long, and created a website page to provide access to the educational material. Each stake has a tree number and a QR code that links to this page, where there are links to a separate page for each tree.

This page has the following sub pages.