Explore the most popular trails in Fults Hill Prairie with hand-curated trail maps and driving directions as well as detailed reviews and photos from hikers, campers and nature lovers like you.

The 997-acre Fults Hill Prairie State Natural Area is owned and managed by the Illinoois Department of Natural Resources (IDNR). Most of this unique natural area was purchased between 1970 and 1976. From the uplands of Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve to the lowlands of Kidd Lake Marsh, a variety of plants and animals can be found, some common and some found nowhere else in the state. Fults Hill Prairie Nature Preserve consists of 532 acres of uplands and includes woodland, prairie and glade communities. It has the largest complex of high quality loess hill prairies in Illinois. Prairies were once the dominant natural community in Illinois. The Illinois Nature Preserve system was established to give the highest level of protection to the state's few remaining high quality natural areas; this site was dedicated as a preserve in 1970. In 1986 it was recognized federally by the U.S. Department of Interior as a National Natural Landmark.

A great, short trail! Great views, interesting wildlife and vegetation, nice trail that was appropriately challenging for my 8-year-old and me. We're looking forward to hiking it again in different seasons!

Whoa! Wooden stairs head straight up the bluffs. Dirt path from there onward. Great view from the top though. All of the elevation change is at the beginning and end of the trail. Not much to see afterwards. Trail is dog friendly.

Nice views. Stairs on one side. Steep slope to hike on other. The kids had fun and handled it no problem, but need to be careful near edges of the bluffs.

The road is now open. They were repairing the bridge that crossed the Kaskaskia River and it took them forever. But, I just drove the road from Ellis Grove all the way to Columbia, and it is open. The trail is wonderful and it's rarely used. Here's a review from my blog https://chrisbunton.blogspot.com/2019/11/fults-hill-prairie-nature-preserve.html

over grown
5 months ago

The road is still closed but you are able to walk to the trail from the north side.

Sat July 7/27/2019 The road to the trail head was closed at Fults rd. Just a heads up.

My guy remembered going to this trail for an ecology class a few years ago and said it was worth checking out. I agree. It was a bit hard to get to today because of road closings due to flooding in the area but it was worth the detour. We aren’t very avid hikers (and honestly, I’m pretty high on the BMI index) and almost let the extreme rating at the trail head deter us, especially when checking out the stairs immediately to the right. Definitely worth the hike up, and make sure to take time to stop and use the overlooks on the way up. The rest of the trail is pretty neat but those views are what makes it worth it.

An absolutely wonderful experience! I hope you didnt skip leg day because the stairs up the bluff are exhausting. The pathway down the bluff of the opposite side is also rough but only because of the over growth and the rocks. Overall, it was fun and totally worth it!

The beginning and the end are brutal. Gaining about 300 feet in about a 1/3 of a mile is intense. Your legs will be burning and you'll be out of breath, but it is worth it. The rest of the hike is a nice stroll through a forest. It is really peaceful.

It is rugged, washed out in some places, and you may get slapped by a sapling here and there. And I love it. This trail is not something you can half heartedly walk. It’ll get your heart pumping. Whenever you stop to take a breather make sure you look around. This is a nature lovers treat. There are wildflowers growing in every season. Take a minute to sit at one of the out crops. Vultures soar almost within reach. You can hear birds call from all around. Frogs call from flooded plains. The trail is not marked but it is well used. This isn’t kid friendly. Unless your kid is a dog. Then they’ll be worn out! Just make sure your dog isn’t a puller, the trail isn’t too forgiving of a yank down hill. There are no facilities at the trail and the closest gas station is quite a bit away but the hike only takes about an hour.

Beautiful winter hike! The trail was well maintained though not marked. It isn't a long hike, but it has some steep climbs to get your heart pounding, as well as diverse and unusual habitats. The steep prairies are breathtaking and unlike anything I've seen elsewhere. I'd like to come back in the summer to see the wildflowers in bloom. This hike was okay with dogs; I wouldn't take small kids, though. We started the loop by taking the stairs heading southeast. You'll quickly get to the prairie, then turn away from the bluffs and walk through a forest on the spine of a ridge that loops around a hollow. When you reach the prairie again, be sure to take the spur that leads straight toward the bluff before doubling back to the main trail, which leads back down to the parking lot.

I really wanted to enjoy this trip with my family. I took my two kids (3 and 8) and while it was great to get them out into the woods. The trail was more of a deer path than a family friendly trail. I’m going to go and hike it on my own. But it is certainly not kid appropriate.

Steep stair climb at first. Looks like folks get to the west lookouts for the good views then turnaround and head back down. After the west view the trail was very overgrown to where you couldn’t see it. So we turned around and went back down. We might revisit another time of year.

Great hike if you don't mind climbing several hundred steps to get to the top. Great views of the Mississippi River Valley.

Loess hill praire. Great views to the west and south.

Was an ok hike after you get up the 200 plus steps at the beginning but very short - there is lots of potential here to add more trails but at this point there is only one and it was kind of overgrown in spots

The second half of the trail is a little overgrown, but it provides some good views of the midwest farm land. If you are in good cardiovascular shape, it makes for a fun, quick jog.

It was super fun, lots of animals were out. The trail was very grown up and the end and beginning are very steep. I really enjoyed this trial!!

Sun Mar 19 2017

Great views of the Mississippi valley

Did some field work here as a graduate student. The first part is a steep nearly vertical climb but it's rolling hills once you're on top of the bluffs and among the prairies. You get a great view of the Mississippi flood plain and local farmland.

First part is steep climb, but then is flat. Great Trail!

tough but great!

Beautiful Views and great workout

Stairs definitely make it easier to get to the top, narrow in some places and loose rock on way down..but my 3 year old nephew walked most of it alone with no issues. Beautiful views and path easy to follow. Whole family loved it.

Great hike through the woods with beautiful views from the bluffs! The dogs enjoyed it too!

The trail is actually rated as extreme difficulty. We went up the stairs first, which really gets your heart pumping and blood flowing and also makes you want to turn around, but the views are definitely worth it. Lots of loose rocks on the path down. Other than that it's a great workout!

Spectacular views, intense elevation climb, must see to believe, no ticks in January! So special that you will go back. Try to find the 1880 plow with trees grown thru it. Wow, best views in Illinois

Trail not marked, but easy to follow. Ascent and descent moderate difficulty. Great views towards end if you walk counter clockwise. Little overgrown in spots. Beautiful wildflowers blooming. Watch out for ticks and poison ivy.

MISERABLE hike! Trail overgrown. Not well marked. Entrance covered with trash. Tick infested. Will NOT be back!

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