5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Illinois

5 Beautiful Scenic Hikes in Illinois

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Scenic hikes are relaxing, inspiring, and invigorating for both new and experienced hikers. There are hundreds of hiking trails throughout Illinois thanks to the many state parks. The following scenic hikes are found in various landscapes ranging from sandstone bluffs to swampy wetlands. These hikes also range in length and skill levels. Explore these five beautiful scenic hikes and don’t forget to capture the natural beauty with your camera! 

1. Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is home to beautiful canyons, streams, waterfalls, and other natural geological formations. Hikers can explore five miles of marked trails, choosing from various routes over the bluff tops or into the dells. The wide variety of vegetation and wildlife provide additional scenic variety to hikes through the park, as well. 

2. Rim Rock National Recreational Trail at Shawnee National Forest

Known for its diverse and breathtaking terrain, Shawnee National Forest offers many miles of hiking trails through woodlands, hills, and sandstone formations. The Rim Rock National Recreational Trail is an exceptionally beautiful scenic hike that winds around the top rim of a rock. Its historic values led to its designation of a national recreation trail in 1980. 

3. Big Rocky Hollow Trail at Ferne Clyffe State Park

Ferne Clyffe State Park offers an extraordinary variety of plant life and wildlife, making it a haven for nature lovers. Big Rocky Hollow Trail is an easy hike that leads to a beautiful, 100-foot waterfall. The total length of the trail is just under a mile. Each of the 18 trails in the park are assigned a number and name to prevent any confusion with hikers. 

4. Des Plaines River Trail, Wadsworth, IL

The Des Plaines River Trail spans over 30 miles through 12 forest preserves and a variety of natural habitats. This gravel trail follows the Des Plaines River until connecting with the Cook County Forest Preserve trail. Hikers can experience diverse landscapes including prairies, savannas, valleys, and woodlands. 

5. Big Cypress Tree Trail at Cache River State Natural Area

From forested swaps to shallow wetlands, Cache River State Natural Area is dominated with beautiful trees. The Big Cypress Tree Trail is a short hike that showcases a bald cypress tree over 1,000 years-old. The tree’s base has a circumference of over 40 feet, making this natural wonder a destination for both novice and experienced hikers.