nd.gov - The Official Portal for North Dakota State Government
North Dakota: Legendary. Follow the trail of legends
North Dakota Parks and Recreation Department

Head of the Mountain State Nature Preserve

The 100 acre nature preserve sits at the edge of a steep escarpment, providing an overlook of the surrounding landscape—thus the name Head-of-the-Mountain. The land to the west and south is hilly which contrasts with the flat-lying topography to the north and east. Geological events that occurred thousands of years ago have shaped this view from the preserve. The eastern border of the preserve is a manmade lake created by Frenier Dam. This impoundment is fairly shallow, bordered by cattails and other aquatic vegetation. But the view and reservoir are just two features of the preserve that makes it such an attractive place to visit.

Head of the Mountain

Significant natural diversity features

The most abundant cover in the approximately 60 acres of dry mesic tallgrass prairie contains a variety of plants including native grasses such as porcupine grass, sideoats grama, big bluestem, little bluestem; and forbs such as purple coneflower, lead plant and pasque flower. The 40 acres of Bur Oak woodland covering a generous portion of the southern border is comprised mainly of American elm, Green ash and Bur oak. The Bur Oak woodland is also associated with an understory of Buckbrush, Wood nettle and Burdock. The eastern border of the preserve is a small reservoir created by Frenier Dam. The reservoir is fairly shallow, bordered by cattails. The native prairie, wooded draw and the adjacent reservoir combine to provide good habitat for a variety of wildlife. A number of bird species utilize the area including the upland plover, chestnut collared longspur, savannah sparrow, sharp-tailed grouse, Canada geese and many types of ducks. White-tailed deer, fox and gray squirrels, red fox and cottontail rabbit are also found in the preserve.

Some wildflowers

  • Lead plant - Amorpha nana
  • Dogbane - Apocynum sp.
  • Oval-leaved milkweed - Asclepias ovalifolia
  • Smooth brome - Bromus inermis
  • Canada thistle - Cirsium arvense
  • Bull thistle - Cirsium vulgare
  • Bindweed - Convulvulus arvense
  • White prairie clover - Dalea candida
  • Purple prairie clover - Dalea purpurea
  • Purple coneflower - Echinacea angustifolia
  • Northern bedstraw - Galium boreale
  • Sunflower - Helianthus sp.
  • Touch-me-not - Impatiens capensis
  • Wild honeysuckle - Lonicera diocia
  • Yellow sweetclover - Melilotus officianalis
  • Mint - Mentha arvense
  • Bergamot - Monarda fistulosa
  • Catnip - Nepeta cataria
  • Plaintain - Plantago major
  • Prairie coneflower - Ratibida columnifera
  • Dock - Rumex crispus
  • Goldenrod - Solidago sp.
  • Sow thistle - Sonchus arvensis
  • Dandelion - Taraxacum officinale
  • False dandelion - Tragopogon dubius
  • Stinging nettle - Urtica dioica
  • Blue vervain - Verbena hastata

Recreation and trails

State owned and managed nature preserves are open to the public for passive recreation, such as bird watching, hiking, photography, wildflower viewing and cross country skiing. Vehicles are prohibited on the preserve.


To reach Head-of-the-Mountain from Rutland drive 4 miles south, 3 1/4 miles east and then 2 miles. This will bring you to the SE corner of the preserve. From the town of Forman, drive 7 ½ miles south on Highway 32, 9 ¼ miles east, then 2 miles south. This will bring you to the SE corner of Head-of-the- Mountain.


Map Navigation: Click on the + sign to zoom in, the - sign to zoom out, or hold the right click mouse button down and move your mouse to pan the map (drag and drop).