Illinois’ state parks and forest preserves feature miles of hiking trails offering scenic views of lush foliage, native wildlife, and interesting landscape formations. Hikers have the opportunity to experience the stunning foliage colors from hundreds of native plant and tree species in the spring, summer, and fall months. The following foliage hikes are free to the public and provide close-up views of unspoiled nature.
Known for its moss-covered boulders and bubbling brook, Dixon Springs State Park features the tallest tree in Illinois: a 165-foot-tall red oak. Aside from this cool fact, this beautiful state park is home to other giant, century-old trees, abundant wildlife, and huge boulders. Several beautiful foliage hikes are available throughout the park including Pine Tree Trail, Oak Tree Trail, Bluff Trail, and Ghost Dance Trail.
Kankakee River State Park is known for its rich cultural history, unspoiled natural beauty, and clean streams. Hikers can take advantage of the miles of beauty foliage scenery along the north side of the Kankakee River via the park’s trail system. The hiking trails offer stunning views of limestone canyons, beautiful foliage, and a waterfall.
Matthiessen State Park is the ideal spot for anyone interested in geology or passionate about recreational activities. This unique park features a diverse landscape that ranges from prairie to canyons and forest. The park offers five miles of marked hiking trails featuring stunning views of foliage, wildlife, and rock formations. Hikers should always remain on the trails and exercise caution near the steep cliffs and canyons.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve is an ecological haven featuring 740 native plants species and hundreds of animal species includes mammals, fish, reptiles, birds, and amphibians. This nearly 2,500-acre park features 11 miles of turf and limestone-covered trails through a variety of habitats including grasslands, wetlands, woodlands, and savannas. Unmarked footpaths are also found through the Waterfall Glen, but they may not connect with the mapped trails.
Known for its magnificent views of the Illinois River, Pere Marquette State Park is the recreational lover’s paradise. This state park is rich in local history, geology, wildlife habitat, and year-round recreational activities. Hikers can take in stunning views of the wooded ravines, towering river bluffs, and lush forests along 12 miles of marked trails. These trails are suitable for both experienced and beginner hikers.