The Top 10 Hiking Trails In Illinois

What better way to experience nature than through a hike? Studies show the outdoors heals both the body and mind. 

The Midwest is a great place to see everything the environment has to offer. 

Plan your next hike by checking out our list of the best hiking trails in Illinois.

1. Starved Rock State Park 

With 2.5 million yearly visitors, this is the most visited state park in Illinois.

The park has 18 canyons. 14 canyons have waterfalls, which you can only reach through the hiking trails.

The bluffs sitting on the Illinois River are a great place to take in the scenery. 

Distance: 13 miles 

2. Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen is a short trip from Starved Rock. It’s a smaller alternative for children or the less experienced hiker.

Schedule your trip during the winter to see the beautiful frozen waterfalls. 

Distance: 3.2 miles

3. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve 

Just outside the city, Waterfall Glen makes for a great day trip. 

Discover everything from limestone trails to oak-maple woodlands.

Great for a moderate level hiker. Explore trails, as well as unmarked paths.

Distance: 11 miles 

4. Garden of the Gods

Due to its incredible views, this is one of the most popular hiking trails in Illinois.

You’ll want to see the huge boulders here. Be careful in the winter, as they get very slippery.

During a fall trip, the colorful leaves might make you think you’re in the Northeast! 

Distance: 5.5 miles 

5. Buffalo Rock State Park 

This is a small park, perfect for the beginner hiker. 

It’s hard to miss the park’s giant outdoor sculpture. Though, you’ll have to keep a look out for the two bison that live here.

Distance: 3.3 miles 

6. Cache River Natural Area

If you’re looking for some unique scenery try Cache River. On your hike, discover swamps and bald Cyprus trees. Some over 1,000 years old! 

With 10 trails to choose from, there’s lots to see here. 

Distance: 21 miles 

7. Castle Rock State Park

These trails are great for the experienced climber. 

Take a challenging hike up the Castle Rock bluffs. Up there, you can reward yourself with the view of Rock River. 

Distance: 4.25 miles of trails 

8. Giant City State Park

You won’t believe you’re still in Illinois when you visit Giant City. Their grand rock formations are an incredible sight.

If you’d like some peace and quiet, this beautiful hiking spot is for you.

Distance: 13.3 miles 

9. Ferne Clyffe State Park

One trail will take you through fields. The other, around waterfalls.

With 18 trails and all types of terrain, you won’t get bored at Ferne Clyffe.

Distance: 34 miles 

10. Robert Allerton Park and Retreat Center

If you’re looking for something family-friendly, this park is a great option.

With 6 different trails, there’s a path for every age. There’s even a lot to do for the family member who doesn’t want to hike. 

Distance: 14 miles 

Have you checked out any of these hiking trails in Illinois? 

Leave a comment and let us know what you thought of them.

Curious about faraway trails? Take a look at our other hiking guides from the Southeast.

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