Hike the Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park

Details

Distance

3.5 miles

Elevation Gain

250 ft

Route Type

Loop

Added by Kyle Wenzel

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.

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Know for

Photography
Snowshoeing
Hiking
Bathrooms
Easy Parking
Family Friendly
Forest
Groups
River
Scenic
Waterfall
Wildflowers
Wildlife

Nearby

Reviews

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🥇Top Contributor

over 1 year ago

Truly breathtaking!

LOVE the lower dells. Was not expecting such a magnificent spot at all. The canyon is massive, and seems surreal at first. I tried to hike the other section of the canyon (continuing south) but it was almost unpassable.

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.

436 total saves

4.8/5

Leave No Trace

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on.

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