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Hike the Matthiessen State Park Loop

Oglesby, Illinois

based on 8 reviews



5.8 miles

Route Type



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.

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Hike the Matthiessen State Park Loop Reviews

While the trail isn't too long, I have enjoyed my many trips to Matthiessen! There are many waterfalls and usually less people on the trails than the nearby parks. I swim at the base of the waterfall near Strawberry Hill. To get to it, go down the stairs and follow the river east {it may be high so use a walking stick to walk through the waters}. It should lead you to a larger waterfall with a pond at the base. Typically, I swim in this and can slide down the lower portion of the waterfall into the waters! { In the winter, the pond does not fully freeze over. I have witnessed people and dogs fall through the thin ice in hopes of getting close to the fozen waterfall. Please be careful. } The rest of the trail is great and fairly easy. I recommend staying on the lower dells and following the riverbed {you will see more waterfalls and wildlife}

This is my third time coming here. The hiking is pretty easy and the waterfalls are beautiful. Heading towards the lower dells is completely muddy during the Spring (rainy season). Be prepared to get wet, muddy and dirty, but all in good fun if that doesn't bother you. We will continue to come here, epically since my 9yr old loves splashing around in the water.

Leave No Trace

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


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