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Oglesby, Illinois

Hike the Matthiessen State Park Loop

5.8 Miles Total - Loop Trail

Originally added by The Outbound Collective

Canyon, bluffs, waterfalls, and prairie await on this comprehensive hike through Matthiessen State Park.

With 5 miles of trails, which alternate between cliffs, canyons, and bluffs, Matthiessen State Park has plenty to offer. This particular trail also includes three waterfalls, along the way.

From the Dells Area parking lot, head down the steps next to the log fort replica. At the 4-way junction turn right, where the trail follows along the Upper Dell. At the T-junction with Bluff Trail, turn left.

In 0.75 miles you will cross a bridge on Lake Matthiessen, where Lake Falls will be visible. Take another left at the next T-junction and head into the canyon. Here you'll see another waterfall, Giant's Bathtub.

At the T-junction continue straight. Follow the stairs up out of the canyon, then turn left at the T-junction, heading towards Lower Dells. Soon you'll pass by the popular 45-foot Cascade Falls.

As a side trip, you can follow the set of stairs after the bridge, leading you for 0.3 miles through the canyon, up to a prairie, and then back to the parking lot.

Photo Credit: Tom Gill

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Awesome loop trail

The trail at Matthiessen are fantastic! Nothing too difficult, as long as you don't mind getting wet, its a great time!

You'll Quickly Forget What State You're In`

Everybody in the area always talks about Starved Rock as the place to go but seems to pay no attention to this gem just on the other side of the highway. Matthiessen still remains one of my favorite spots in the state, and I much highly prefer it over it's cousin Starved Rock. I have been in the middle of the summer and saw less than 10 people throughout the entire hike. It is complete with canyons, waterfalls, rivers, you name it! I'm already planning another trip out there this month.

Matthiessen- A gem of Illinois

What used to be hidden gem in Illinois is now the popular place to go. Matthiessen State Park is now bustling weekdays and weekends with avid hikers, adventurers, and everyday go-getters. The park's history is interesting to read into, but seems to be not well emphasized by the park. Instead, the park looks to interest their visitors with the picturesque views. The park has two main waterfalls with several smaller cascades hidden throughout enormous canyon walls. The park, once untouched, is now graffiti ridden. The problem lies with the state of Illinois. Without proper budget funding, the park has less money to work with to uptake and maintain a clean status. Nonetheless, the park is a wonder to see and view yourself. With miles of hiking trails and plenty to see and explore, you will be tired by the end of the day, going home. Matthiessen, while not always uptaken properly, is a park that anyone living or visiting Illinois, should see.

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.

Stay Nearby

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LaSalle / Peru KOA

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Kankakee South KOA

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Chicago Northwest KOA

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Thomson Causeway

Nearby Adventures

Hike the Upper Dells of Matthiessen State Park

2.2 Miles Round Trip - 627 ft gain

Hike the Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park

3.5 Miles Round Trip - 250 ft gain

Hike the Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail

2.2 Miles Round Trip - 380 ft gain

Hike the Red River Trail

2.3 Miles Round Trip - 285 ft gain