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The Best Hiking in Illinois

Looking for the best hiking in Illinois? We've got you covered with the top trails, trips, hiking, backpacking, camping and more around Illinois. The detailed guides, photos, and reviews are all submitted by the Outbound community.

Top hiking spots in and near Illinois

  • Herod, Illinois

    Hike the Garden of the Gods Observation Trail

    4.9
    1 mi
    In the southernmost part of Illinois, Shawnee National Forest is a wonderful natural area that transports you far from the flat agricultural landscape typical of so much of the Midwest. Located in the central area of the forest, Garden of the Gods is a 3,318-acre wilderness area characterized by ...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike the Matthiessen State Park Loop

    4.9
    5.8 mi
    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 tu...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike Ottawa Canyon at Starved Rock State Park

    5.0
    3.9 mi
    This canyon is not as popular as some of the others in this park but it is my favorite by far. You can either hike the full 3.9 miles from the visitor center or you can jump in your car and head over to one of the parking lots on the east side for a shorter hike. Either way you will not be disap...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike the Lower Dells at Matthiessen State Park

    4.8
    3.5 mi / 250 ft gain
    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...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike to Starved Rock's La Salle Canyon

    4.0
    4.4 mi / 370 ft gain
    This out-and-back trail is one of the parks longest trails. Starting from the visitors center it is 2.2 mile hike one way and 4.4 miles if you go out and back. The trail is very much worth the long trek. You enjoy the views and fresh air of the Illinois river. You will also walk past the Illinois...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike the Upper Dells of Matthiessen State Park

    4.3
    2.2 mi / 627 ft gain
    From the start of the parking lot you will cross a picnic area to your left where you can have a bite to eat before or after your hike. The trailhead starts off with a couple flights of stair leading you down to the bridge. After taking in the spectacular views at the top of the waterfall you wil...
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  • Darien, Illinois

    Hike the Waterfall Glen Loop

    5.0
    9.4 mi / 387 ft gain
    It is easy to modify your route, with lots of side trails to choose from. A waterfall and scenic views make for a pleasant spot to exercise.
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike to Wildcat Canyon at Starved Rock SP

    4.5
    2 mi
    If you happen to find yourself in the Chicagoland area be sure to check out the Wildcat Canyon hike at Starved Rock State Park.  This is a 2 mile out and back hike from the visitor's center that leads to the largest waterfall in the park.  There are two viewpoints from the top of the canyon or yo...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike Starved Rock's French Canyon

    4.5
    0.4 mi
    Starting from the visitors center or the parks restaurant, depending on where you parked. If you were forced to park by the restaurant because of a busy day, you will start the trail head with a map of the park. You will follow the tallest stairs of the park down to the visitors center where the ...
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  • Oglesby, Illinois

    Hike to St. Louis Canyon at Starved Rock State Park

    3 mi
    Starved Rock has some very interesting rock formations you can explore.  The valley was formed by a series of floods as glacial melt waters broke through moraines, sending torrents of flood water surging across the land that eventually eroded the sandstone and sedimentary rock.  If you arrive in ...
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  • Palos Park, Illinois

    Hike the Cap Sauers and Swallow Cliff Loop

    3.0
    4.74 mi / 259 ft gain
    The Swallows Cliff Woods, an 800 acre preserve, is known for its 100 ft bluff that provides visitors with a steep stair workout. On top of the bluff, however, there are less strenuous trail options, leading through the hilly, forested terrain, past wetlands and streams.
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  • Pomona, Illinois

    Hike the Little Grand Canyon Trail

    5.0
    3.6 mi / 365 ft gain
    The trail starts along Hickory Ridge, the southern rim of the canyon. Continue on the trail as it begins to descend into the canyon, following the white diamond markers – you can make a quick stop off along a side path, which leads to some scenic river views. When you reach a stone staircase in t...
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  • Lemont, Illinois

    Hike the Waterfall Glen Trail

    4.5
    9.5 mi / 961 ft gain
    This trail is recommended for use from March - November, but is great for cross country skiing in the winter. The trail is covered with packed down gravel, and is sometimes used by equestrians. 
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  • Stonefort, Illinois

    Hike to Burden Falls

    4.0
    0.8 mi
    Located in the Shawnee National Forest near Stonefort, Burden Falls, though perhaps small by other standards, is among the highest in Illinois. There are many side trails to explore, making this a great spot for birders and photographers. The hike is a 0.8 mile moderately rated loop trail. Thoug...
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  • Lisle, Illinois

    Hike the Morton Arboretum's Main Trail Loops

    5 mi / 0 ft gain
    The Morton Arboretum is located off of Route 53 in Lisle, IL. The arboretum spans both the east and west sides of the road. Head to the east side of the park to access the Main Trail Loops. Visitors have to pay a small fee to enter the arboretum ($14 April through November, $9 December through Ma...
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  • Ringwood, Illinois

    Hike the Glacial Park Loop Trail

    2.3 mi / 216 ft gain
    Glacial Park is located in McHenry County Conservation District, near Richmond, Illinois. The park features prairies, a flowing river, and over 40 endangered plant and animal species. The park is open for hikers, horseback riders, fishers, and those wishing to canoe. Glacial Park is part of the H...
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