A Little Time and a Keyboard: 11 Northern Illinois Hiking Trails To Know

11 Northern Illinois Hiking Trails To Know

Sunday, May 26, 2019

11 Northern Illinois Hiking Trails To Know

11 Northern Illinois Hiking Trails To Know

Hiking in Northern Illinois features a wider variety of trails than many would think. I have discovered quite a few gems in our last few years of hiking explorations. I definitely have more to explore, but here are my favorites in Northern Illinois:

Apple River Canyon State Park: Making our way home to the Chicago suburbs from Galena one summer, we stumbled upon Apple River Canyon State Park. The preserve features canyons and massive cliffs carved by the Apple River. We enjoyed walking along the river as well as hiking up on top of one of the cliffs.  

Rock Cut State Park: We saw a bald eagle while hiking in Rock Cut State Park, need I say more? At 3,092 acres, there is no shortage of trails at Rock Cut. The preserve features two lakes and a variety of trails including some over rocky/hilly terrain.

Waterfall Glen: Waterfall Glen in Darien features rolling to hilly terrain and beautiful Rocky Glen Waterfall which was built by the Civilian Conservation Corps.

Deer Grove: Deer Grove Forest Preserve in Palatine is probably my favorite in Cook County. The forest preserve was the first acquired by the district and they really captured a true gem! The large preserve includes a variety of hiking experiences including a rolling wooded area, streams, prairie and wetlands. 

Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve: The trails at Casper Bluff Land and Water Reserve in Galena take visitors through a unique landscape featuring mounds. You will also savor a spectacular view of the Mississippi River. During our summer visit, we also enjoyed brilliant prairie flowers. There are not a ton of trails here, but the spot is certainly unique!

Matthiessen State Park: Matthiessen in Utica is a nature wonderland encouraging hunting for waterfalls, skipping stones and exploring canyons. Such a spectacular landscape!

Starved Rock State Park: A visit to Starved Rock is a true Illinois nature classic in Oglesby. A hike at Starved Rock includes checking for waterfalls, climbing up and down canyons and even checking out the locks.

Volo Bog State Natural Area: Volo Bog provides an excellent opportunity for unique hikes through and around the only quaking bog in Illinois in Ingleside.

Nachusa Grasslands: Located in Franklin Grove, Nachusa Grasslands is home to a large remnant prairie, wetlands and woodlands that are being restored. Additionally, lucky visitors may view the resident bison herd. For info on how to find the five trailheads or how to attempt to spot the bison, head to the website.

Black Hawk State Historic Site: Black Hawk State Historic Site in Rock Island is pretty unique encompassing trails through a variety of environments including along the rocky edge of the Rock River and the forest. Additionally, the site has interesting history including information about the Sauk and Meskwaki tribes as well as the Civilian Conservation Corps that worked there

Fox River Trail: Hugging the Fox River from Algonquin to Aurora, the multi-use trail boasts incredible views while guiding hikers through a variety of forest preserves. 

More hiking to do:

So many trails, so little time! Northern Illinois is full of trails and I definitely have more to discover! This summer, I hope to hike at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie and maybe even see the bison there! Where have you been hiking?

11 Northern Illinois Hiking Trails To Know

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