Hike the Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park

Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail

The Lower Dells is a fantastic hike for all ages and skill levels. There are beautiful waterfalls, sandstone bluffs, and of course a stunning river winding through the trails.

Starting off right from the parking lot at Matthiessen State Park, follow the trail markers through the forest, across beautiful bridges, and find your way to one of the many stunning waterfalls. Depending on when you go, the water level will vary greatly. During the summer months the water level is fairly low so getting across river crossings is fairly easy, during the spring/fall months however, it helps to have hiking poles to balance as you rock hop across rivers and streams. As for the winter months, strap on a pair of snowshoes and hike right over the frozen river and trails.

Matthiessen State Park is located only a few miles down the road from Starved Rock State Park, and during the peak spring/summer months offers a great alternative to the very busy/crowded Starved Rock.

Pack List

  • Backpack
  • Hiking shoes
  • Hiking poles
  • Spare socks
  • Sandals (for the balance challenged during river crossings)
  • Camera
  • Water
  • Trail snacks
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RT Distance 3.5 Miles
Elevation Gain 250 Feet
Activities Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking
Skill Level Beginner
Season Year Round
Trail Type Loop
Features
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Reviews

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Overall rating: 

Lovely

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.

Must Visit Place In Illinois

We always go down here for our school photo program and every time we visit we are always treated to great views!

Never Knew

I have been to Starved rock two times but have never been to the Lower Dells at Matthiessen. I definitely need to get out here next weekend when I'm up that way. Love the write up.


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