Explore To Do - view hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

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Love coming out here at all times of the year. Beautiful place.

best nature trail I've found near Chicago

hiking
1 month ago

This was nice hike that I enjoyed. Good amount of hills which I liked. Went during the weekday and not that many people on the trail. Also the trail is well marked so you shouldn’t have a problem following it. Go out and enjoy this trail.

Paved path, enjoyable walk in the woods.

mountain biking
1 month ago

definitely should be rated hard. most inexperienced mountain bikers will have issues. helmet and proper bike a must.

Down in the canyon was amazing

A lot of fun, especially good for dogs to hike along with owners. Fall colors beginning to show.

My kids and I did the loop out to the beach. It was very nice. The trail is mostly stairs and boardwalk. A few cool observation points that look out over a view. Nice places to stop for a snack. Overall, nice, but a little short.

Exceptionally beautiful trail that is well maintained featuring small hills and plenty of shade. Cannot recommend this loop enough.

hiking
2 months ago

Nice easy hike, just be prepared to step off the path for mountain bikers and check out the ponds off trail

Really enjoyed our hike as it had very interesting patches.

3 months ago

I had a wonderful time.

hiking
3 months ago

Great trail. I suggest going down into the canyon while looping. Adds stairs but you can see some great cliffs and waterfalls!

The perfect escape from the city! It was 90° today but we could take refuge in the abundant shade and water so it worked well! I recommend coming out on a weekday to avoid the traffic. We will be back for sure!

Mattheisen State Park is less well-known than it’s nearby counterpart, Starved Rock, so there is usually less of a crowd. While the trails are not as well marked, the Lake Falls Dam Waterfall is breathtaking and can be seen from the bridge at the top and down below at the base. This is one of my favorite areas to hike. Definitely a must see if you are in the area.

hiking
4 months ago

Great hiking trail. I liked the different elevations. Many mountain bikers from both ways to watch out for, but they alert you when they’re coming and let you know how many more are behind them. Looking forward to biking next time although it looks a little harder than a moderate trail.

Beautiful trail, I parked at hickory creek junction off of 30. After 2 miles into hike, was stopped by police on bike and was told dogs are not allowed this far into the trail. Guess it’s written somewhere in small print. So back we have to go.

hiking
4 months ago

Truly enjoyed this trail. Rolling hills, great vistas, and bullfrogs singing at the Tomahawk Slough.

Arrive early (by 10am?) on weekends so you can park at the main parking lot. We had to park in the overflow area and it was an extra mile hike across a sunny field to get to the Dells area.

The Dells were beautiful!

mountain biking
5 months ago

As a novice, this trail was tough for me, very tough after intersection 30! There were some big dips that I didn’t even attempt, lots of tree roots in the trail, and a lot of mud after the recent rain. Tough but fun!

This park is amazing with caves you can walk through and waterfalls galore! We did seem to go on a trail that led to a equestrian trail and not the loop, but there are signs that say which way to stay on the hiking trail loop. Overall great experience, even though it absolutely down poured during our visit.

Garmin plotted it at 5.83 miles. Pretty easy on foot and well marked. Trail was a lot of fun and good elevation changes for the area. There was an expected mix of courteous bikers and douchewaffles, but overall the baddies didn’t ruin the hike. I want to come back and try to run this trail.

Stairs were a little rough at the start but loved looking at all the birds and flowers.

This is a mix of cook county forest preserve trails that vary from gravel, dirt, and paved. Well maintained and marked.

hiking
6 months ago

Took the dog and it was great, definitely more of a mountain bike trail. But decently challenging either way. If you have smaller kids or a dog stay alert! There are some blind corners and fast downhills for the bikes and you might need to get out of the way quickly. The bikers were polite though. If you’re on foot clockwise is the way to go.

Great alternative to Starved Rock! While still getting a decent amount of hikers, Matthiessen is just as spectacular as nearby Starved Rock and much less crowded and noisy. Although there’s many waterfalls, my personal favorite is Lake Matthiessen’s Dam Waterfall. It has one large waterfall you can climb and then a lower waterfall with a nice pool where you can swim and picnic.

hiking
7 months ago

Excellent hike. Great terrain. Beautiful lakes. Get out early to avoid all the bikers.

Beautiful trail with part of it that runs along the beach.

rock climbing
7 months ago

This walk/hike was really nice. Once you get down to the bottom of the stairs, instead of going to the right as the trail presumes, go immediately to your left, not around the curve, but through the water. Follow that shortly and you will find two waterfalls that you can climb and a tunnel you can walk through. This part of the hike was the best for us.

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