Starved Rock State Park was absolutely PACKED yesterday. Yes, it is hiking season, and everyone is ready to get out and enjoy nature. Sometimes you don’t have a ton of time, or you have limited abilities. But don’t worry; you can still go on some incredible hikes. Here are our 11 favorite places to go.
1. Starved Rock State Park
You can hike for as long or as little as you want to at Starved Rock--it's truly a choose your own adventure. There are canyons, waterfalls (hurry!), and awesome views of the Illinois River. 2668 E 875th Rd, Oglesby, IL 61348.
2. Garden of the Gods
The trail going around the main observation area is around a third of a mile. There are other trails that take you further around the grounds. Garden of Gods, Herod, IL 62947.
3. Illinois Beach State Park
This state park offers 6.5 miles of Lake Michigan shores for you to enjoy. Whether you want to hike it all or just take a relaxing walk over part is totally up to you. 1 Lakefront Drive, Zion, IL 60099.
4. Matthiessen State Park
This beautiful state park will surprise you, as it has gorgeous canyons and waterfalls just like its sister park to the north (Starved Rock). Enjoy bridges, streams, and even prairie. IL-178, North Utica, IL 61373.
5. Lowden State Park
This gorgeous state park is located along the stunning Rock River. People come here to see Black Hawk (featured). It is the second tallest monolithic statue in the world. 1411 N River Rd, Oregon, IL 61061.
6. Hennepin Canal
The Hennepin Canal is an abandoned waterway between the Mississippi and Illinois Rivers. The towpath is 150 miles with locks along the way, so you can enjoy as much or as little as you want. 16006 E. Street, Sheffield, IL 61361.
7. Mississippi Palisades State Park
These incredible views are brought to you courtesy of the Mississippi and Apple Rivers. There are 15 total miles of trails which are broken into many more manageable small portions (ranging from one to three miles). 16327A IL-84, Savanna, IL 61074.
8. Castle Rock State Park
The rolling topography of Castle Rock is awesome. Interesting rock formations and ravines make this a place you will want to explore, whether you only have a couple of hours or all day. 1365 W Castle Rd, Oregon, IL 61061.
9. Lake Le-Aqua-Na
With a 40 acre lake and 715 aces to explore, there is plenty to do in an afternoon. You can walk through the winding hills or stay by the lake--it's totally up to you! 8542 N Lake Rd, Lena, IL 61048.
10. Tunnel Hill State Trail
There are 45 miles of trail here, with multiple access points. But one of the best hikes you can make is from Karnak to the Cache River State Natural Area. Vienna, IL.
11. Ferne Clyffe State Park
Unusual ferns and bizarre rock formations will cause you to take lots of photos. The best "bang for your buck" is the Ferne Clyffe Waterfall Trail, which is approximately 2 miles round trip. Goreville, IL 62939.