Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately four miles south of Utica and three miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing.
Sarah T. on Dells Canyon and Bluff Trail
This is one of my top faves state parks in this part of Illinois!! Hands down there is so many amazing sight to experience here. All of my kids enjoy it. The terrain gives you a little bit of everything: hills, stairs, rocks, streams to walk through, cool views of sandstone, trees, old roots, and yeah just an amazing space. We like to hike one side , stop in the pavilion for lunch, then reload and hike the other side. You can't go wrong in this place and it will feel like you are in another state:)!!
The trio of parks in this area are all great for different reasons, and if you're looking for challenging terrain along a riverbed, Matthiessen is your place! It's got stunning views of waterfalls, and is great for anyone.
The only downside is it is very confusing. Whereas Starved Rock is very well laid out and easy to follow in terms of mapping and markers, Matthiessen is the exact opposite. It's very poorly marked, which is why I only gave it 4 stars.
We hiked Saturday after the rain moved through. We heard that it's a muddy area, so of course we packed our Merrell trail/hiking shoes so we could easily walk through the water in the low lying areas.
The temperatures were about near perfect and the trip was a great success. The scenery is epic and I'm so glad I got to finally enjoy it in person with my own eyes! The selfie stick is a must!
This is a fun place. The waterfalls and the canyons are accessible. We hiked very early on a June morning and had the place to ourselves. If you are short on time, the upper dells are the best side. I wished we would have brought a bag to haul out the litter of other people. There is a shameful amount of trash. In the lower dells we encountered a large turtle trapped underneath an old piece of fence. We were able to free the turtle and watched it swim away.
I love this park, it's a little busy at times but most people don't get too far away from the parking lot. You can start at the dells area or river and hike both areas using the horse trail to get between them. This adds about 2 miles to a relatively short hike. The waterfalls are gorgeous but one of the stepping stones is under water so don't forget to bring a towel!
Make sure to stop at the starved rock visitor center for a trailmap. The trail markers were nonexistent and the trail side maps were often hard to read.
The dells area was absolutely amazing. I loved eXploring the canyons and splashing through the creeks and waterfalls. I really can't wait to visit again in the fall.
Skip overcrowded starved rock and head straight to the dells just down the street.