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Emily Otis

Did this hike after Staved Rock. Super easy--if crazy muddy in this early spring. Hiked the lower first, lots of small caves and many river crossings. It wasn't terrible but bring sandals or be prepared to get your boots wet. You have to hike back down the lower, take the bridge across and that will take you to the upper dells. All in all, a beautiful walk and much less crowded than Starved Rock. Lovely place for a picnic and a leisurely walk--there are a few deep river crossings but expect wet feet one way or another.

Take the 2 miles from the Visitor Center, the river trail is easy but floods often. Lots of side trails into gorges and up the bluffs. Recently the bridge is out at the canyon adjacent that creates the loop back to the trail. If the water is low, it's easy to just walk down the waterflow back to the river trail. It's lovely and peaceful!

At the Visitor Center, there are plenty of trails that cross between the bluffs and the river. Starved Rock and the trails directly around it are over-boardwalked. It's a shame to see natural trails that need no maintenance ruined but once you get away from the VC, it thins out. I would suggest walking the river trail to La Salle/Tony canyons, where there are delightful waterfalls. You can go up and take the bluff trails back. The gorges are lovely but even on a gusty day, it was crowded. Go early and skip the crowd. Would be lovely for trail running as well.

It's a cute little stop for the day. Park at the Nature Center and take the corded trail down to the picnic area, this will showcase the dunes and the lake before you get terribly bored (if you're like me and not terribly fascinated with sand). From there you can pick up a wooded trail that leads you to the campground, where you can take a quick detour on the marsh trail and the Black River boardwalk. The nature trail scoops the campground and comes back to the coast. Easy loops and extremely accessible with approximately 8 parking lots. Campsites are close together but a few seem decent for tents--although the summers can be brutal for flies in the area and it's crowded. Overall, a nice little day trip is really all this place can handle. It is close enough to drive up on a Friday to camp and then move further north on Saturday.

This is such an easy walk. A paved walkway gives way to gravel, which turns into a trail that fans out to the gorge bed. I went today, chilly and not-quite spring so the waterfalls weren't flowing but getting into the gorge didn't require me to get my boots wet. I had the gorge to myself and can't imagine how crowded it will get in the summer but overall, a nice way to start the day.