Arboretum Guides

We have printable guides and checklists designed to help you make the most of your Arboretum visit. Most of these guides are designed to be printed double sided, flipping on the short edge.


Arboretum Bibliography: Listing of published papers from research in the Cowling Arboretum and McKnight Prairie as of 2/1/17

Amphibians: Use this handy guide to help you search for and identify these denizens of pond and wetland.  This guide provides descriptions of calls, appearance and suggested locations for finding our nine amphibian species.

Bird Checklist:  Prior to your next hike in the Arboretum consider printing out our checklist for the birds of the Carleton College Arboretum.  Small enough to stick in your pocket, or as a bookmark in your field guide, the checklist includes all species known from the Arboretum, whether common or unusual.  Keep track of your sightings, and let us know if you see something that is not on our list!

Ethnobotanical Guide -Carleton Ethnobotany: This guide seeks to explore the connection between Carleton users and the Arboretum over time. The Ethnobotany booklet includes sketches and descriptions of plants that reside in the Arboretum so you can learn as you hike.

Ethnobotanical Guide -Dakota Ethnobotany: This guide focuses on how plants of Carleton's Arboretum were historically used by the tribes of our region. This information is derived mainly from the Dakota along with some other tribes near our area.

Fall Flowers: Looking to take in the fall colors in the arboretum? Consider also going on a hunt for some beautiful forest wildflowers that are in full bloom during the autumnal season, using this illustrated guide as a resource.

Geology Trail Guide: Have you ever wondered how the big boulders in the Arboretum got to where they are? Or wanted to learn more about how the area was formed? Prior to your next visit to the Arb consider printing out this Geology Trail Guide to take with you. The guide is a 6 page document that leads you on a walking tour of geologic features of the Arboretum. The tour is about three miles long and should take 1-2 hours to complete depending on how fast you walk.

Mussels of the Cannon River: This guide offers an overview of the mussels of the Cannon River, an important but often underappreciated member of the Arboretum ecosystem.

Prairie Grasses: This guide contains information about prairie grasses and gives detailed identification instructions, with pictures, for 10 common species in the Cowling Arboretum.

Trees of the Arboretum

Trees of the Carleton Campus: Prior to your next visit to campus consider printing out our campus tree guide. We hope you use the guide to notice and enjoy the variety of trees on campus and be enticed to venture into the Arboretum to find similar trees in a natural setting.  Efforts have been made to include representative examples of each species represented on campus.


Arboretum Interpretive Guide: This guide was created by Mark Luterra ‘07 as an ENTS capstone project. It describes the history and major habitats of the Arb. The history section begins with bedrock formation 500 million years ago and proceeds through glaciation, pre-European settlement times, Carleton purchase, and changing land use goals. The habitats section describes the ecology of the prairie, oak savanna, upland and floodplain forests, pine plantations, and wetlands, and also provides descriptions of the most common plants and animals in each habitat. Points of interest are noted in the guide but are now outdated and the mentioned on-the-ground guideposts have been removed.