As the weather transitions from hot and humid to crisp, you might want to start getting out and exploring Illinois. There’s no better way to do that than to take a hike. Here are 15 hikes you definitely need to take in Illinois.
1. Mississippi Palisades State Park
This state park offers some of the best views of the Missisippi River off of 500 foot bluffs. Here, there are over 15 miles of trails to explore. Additionally, there are 4 amazing scenic overlooks for you to see the river.
2. Illinois Beach State Park
There just is not a lot of Lake Michigan shoreline left. So it is truly a big deal that this park has 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shoreline. The waves coming crashing in makes this one of the most beautiful state parks in Illinois.
3. Garden of the Gods
As far as classic views in Illinois, the one at Garden of the Gods is the top one. These boulders are giant and are over 300 million years old. There is a short trail that takes you right around the boulders, and there are others through the park.
4. Dixon Springs State Park
This park offers two nice hiking trails. This park actually exists on top of a rock that was dropped 200 feet. Its mineral enriched water is one thing that has drawn visitors for centuries.
5. Starved Rock State Park
This is the most visited Illinois state park, and there is no surprise why. You can hike here for as long or as short as you want, and you will still see some great stuff. There are large canyons as well as waterfalls. There are also loads of scenic overlooks.
6. Castle Rock State Park
While not the largest state park, it may be one of the most scenic. You will enjoy the rolling hills and topography of the area. Trails wind through sandstone bluffs and forested areas.
7. Giant City State Park
Giant City State Park has 13.3 miles of trails for you to wind through. It is known for its very interesting rock formations. There are tons of wildflowers here, too, as well as 75 varieties of trees.
8. Ferne Clyffe State Park
In this park, there are 18 different trails for you to take. The terrain is varied, from forests to fields to waterfalls. Unique geological features add even more visual interest.
9. Cave in Rock State Park
Everyone knows this park for its cave, which has a 55 foot mouth. But you might not know that the park also has trails. Make sure you do take a trail up to the cave, and turn around for an awesome view of the Ohio River.
10. Matthiessen State Park
The little brother of Starved Rock State Park has loads going for it. Walk through the upper and lower dells. There are also canyons and waterfalls here, too, and it tends to be less crowded than its big brother.
11. Buffalo Rock State Park
Yes, this park actually does have two resident bison for you to see--and these creatures are truly magnificent in person. There is a 3.3 mile trail for you to walk on. You also will get some stunning views of the Illinois River.
12. Apple River Canyon
Beautiful anytime of the year, this state park is known for its bubbling streams rolling over rocks. There are scenic canyons to walk around, that will take you through many streams. There are 5 trails to explore.
13. Waterfall Glen
This gorgeous park is hidden in plain sight. Truly, many people who live in the area have no idea these little waterfalls exist. Interesting ridges and potholes make for a great background for this stream.
14. Hennepin Canal
This is an abandoned riverway that is now a state trail. It is frequented by both hikers and bikers. This linear park is 105 miles, so walk for as far as you like.
15. Cache River Natural Area
This 14,000 acre park has some of the very best scenery. There are bogs that are a vibrant green, and large, bald cypress trees sticking out of the ground. There are numerous hiking opportunities, including a boardwalk that goes right onto the bog.