Hike the Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen Parking Area (N 25th Rd), Oglesby, Illinois, United States

  • Activities:

    Photography, Snowshoeing, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Beginner

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Loop

  • RT Distance:

    3.5 Miles

  • Elevation Gain:

    250 Feet

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

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
Read More

Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

Community Photos

+ Add Photos

Reviews

Overall rating: 

Leave a Review

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.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

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

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

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.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

Are we missing something? Suggest an edit

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Sugar Bowl Loop in Kings Canyon NP

Tulare County, California

First and foremost, to get to this trailhead you need to drive down a 2-mile, one lane dirt road that is quite steep.

8 Saves

Hike to Ehukai Pillbox

59178 Ke Nui Road, Hawaii

This hike starts directly across from Banzai Pipeline, the famous barreling wave at Ehukai Beach.

7 Saves

Winter Hike to Calypso Cascades

1046 County Highway 115, Colorado

While most people go snowshoeing near the Bear Lake or Glacier Gorge area in RMNP, Wild Basin is a much less trafficked option.

5 Saves