best winter hikes in illinois

Best Winter Hikes in Illinois


Illinois may be known for its flat prairies and bustling cities, but the state is also home to many beautiful hiking trails that are perfect for winter hiking. With snow-dusted trees, crisp winter air, and serene landscapes, hiking in the winter can be a magical experience. Here are some of the best places to hike in the winter in Illinois:

  1. Starved Rock State Park: Located in Utica, Starved Rock State Park is one of the most popular hiking destinations in Illinois, and for good reason. The park boasts 13 miles of well-marked trails that wind through canyons, over bluffs, and past frozen waterfalls. The park’s unique geological formations make for stunning winter scenery, and the park’s lodge offers a cozy place to warm up after a chilly hike.
  2. Matthiessen State Park: Just a few miles down the road from Starved Rock State Park, Matthiessen State Park is a smaller park with equally impressive natural features. The park’s trails take hikers through canyons and past waterfalls, and the park’s sandstone formations make for some truly beautiful winter views. Matthiessen State Park is a great place to escape the crowds at Starved Rock and enjoy a peaceful winter hike.
  3. Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve: Located in Darien, the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is a 2,492-acre preserve with 11 miles of trails. The preserve’s trails wind through forests, around lakes, and past prairies, offering a diverse landscape to explore. In the winter, the park’s frozen waterfalls are a highlight, and the preserve’s wide, well-groomed trails are perfect for snowshoeing or cross-country skiing.
  4. Kankakee River State Park: Kankakee River State Park, located in Bourbonnais, is another great destination for winter hiking. The park has over 11 miles of trails, including a section of the River Trail that offers stunning views of the frozen Kankakee River. The park is also home to a large number of wintering bald eagles, making it a popular spot for birdwatchers.
  5. Rock Cut State Park: Located in Loves Park, Rock Cut State Park is a 3,092-acre park with over 40 miles of trails. The park’s trails wind through forests, past lakes, and over hills, offering a varied terrain to explore. In the winter, the park’s cross-country ski trails are a highlight, and the park’s snow-covered trees make for a beautiful winter landscape.

Whether you’re an experienced hiker or just looking for a peaceful winter walk, Illinois has plenty of beautiful hiking trails to explore. From frozen waterfalls to snow-covered forests, these five destinations are some of the best places to hike in the winter in Illinois. So bundle up, grab your boots, and hit the trails for a winter adventure you won’t soon forget.

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