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

Only hiked a few miles on easy terrain. Good easy hike with plenty of markings.

Hiked in 1.5 miles from cedar lake trailhead then back. (3 total). Trail was not groomed but still easy to follow. Very wooded. Bugs were not bad. No others hikers or bikers were there on a cool Oct afternoon.

Trail is very well laid out. No special scenic areas, just a nice walk through old growth forest.

This trailhead is a joke. It's an access point for raised power lines and the trail is just a path beaten through the prairie grass beneath them. No tree coverage.

Also, the trailhead marker clearly rates this trail as a moderate to difficult.

Unless you’re familiar, This trail kinda fades away to nothing.

backpacking
1 month ago

Really great day and evening trip with a friend. We started at the entrance and hikes through to the second camp. Set out around 1:15 on September 15th and got to the East Camp Site around 4:30.

The trail was pretty tough at parts for the first half. We ended up getting of route a few times and needed to the use the app to get back on track. It gets especially confusing in the first 3 miles because of the overlaps with the road and poor markings.

After that it was a lot better but pretty tough at parts. Our packs were fairly heavy (around 20 pounds for an overnight, but we wanted luxuries, haha) so there was some slipping and sliding at parts.

We set up at East Camp and had to go back down the hill leading up to it to get water to purify and treat. We used a filter + iodine to filter it. Set up a nice fire ring and kept a fire going for 4 or 5 hours.

Sleeping was great as the temps dropped to around 65 degrees and without a cloud in the sky we were able to go without rain flys which is always a treat.

The last 3.5 out of the woods was pretty grueling. It was quite tough a parts, especially where the trail is clearly very difficult to maintain due to the hills, brooks and streams.

Overall, it was a really wonderful trip and we had a blast! Also the cows mooed all night, and I frankly couldn't stop giggling about that.

mountain biking
1 month ago

Really like it is one of my favorites.

hiking
1 month ago

Love this trail. Great trail for a good exercise and plenty of scenery to look at. Wish more people knew about this trail. Would love for this trail to get updated a little. Be a great trail if it was updated a little. Great place to explore caves and rock formations. Hope more people learn about this trail and start hiking out here. Be cool to run into another hiker!

backpacking
1 month ago

Wonderful time backpacking this trail. It was blazing hot and humid the weekend we went, so we were glad to have broken up the sections by using the camping sites. Arrived at the park at 8 pm on the first day after driving down after work. We walked in 3 miles in the pitch dark, and the trail markers weren’t great—there were a number of splits that had no indicator of where to go. Bring the map and a compass for sure.

Day 2 we hiked 5 miles from camp one to camp two and found some of the steeper slopes very muddy and slippery... no problem with a day pack and nimble shoes. but 30 lb backpacks and boots required careful going. A hiking stick we picked up along the way helped with the muddly slopes immensely, so trekking poles might add a little safety for those backpacking.

Day 3 finished up with 3.5 nice miles. The heat was 95 degrees plus high humidity, so we were glad for shorter days, but the hike would be quite managable in 1 day or two days with better weather. Very nice camping experiences at both spots, we hardly saw any people along the trail and loved the various scenery and terrain that changed regularly.

One Wheel XR

trail running
1 month ago

Great for walking, running and biking. One of our favorites for many years.

Good time...

Only did 2 1/2 miles but very beautiful and very shaded

backpacking
2 months ago

I went in the summer and there was alot of growth on the trail east of Hutchins creek. I was the only one on the trail and there were alot of spider webs on the trail. it was not easy finding a good place to make camp due to all the growth. It would probably be much better in the sping or fall. I did see a deer at the creek crossing.

hiking
2 months ago

good trail with dog.

Same as everyone else has stated, the trek down can be rugged and boring, but the ending is worth it.

hiking
2 months ago

Great trail with a cool backpacking campground. Lots of Ticks!!!

Wear bug spray. I think I fed half the mosquito population of Palos on our walk!

hiking
2 months ago

Nice trail to see some wonderful scenery and get a good workout. Nice loop trail that passes by rock formations, a cave, waterfalls and beautiful scenery. I enjoyed the walk and the exercise on this trail. There are several spots to observe wonderful scenery. Plenty of nice spots to have a nice picnic out in the woods. The only bad thing is the trails need some work and clean up on some spots. A few bridges need in be put in a couple spots. Good idea to take good hiking boots and not be afraid to get dirty. Some spots u may have to climb or walk through some mud. Some spots with more markers and signs would help. Other than that this is a wonderful trail. A good place to spend a good hike on a nice day. Will be hiking here every season.

A good find in southern Illinois! Pleasantly surprised.

mountain biking
3 months ago

It’s really wide but there is still plenty of rocks and roots to have a good time on a mountain bike. There is lots of signage, however I wasn’t always sure which sign I needed to follow. Over all a great ride.

make sure to follow the white squares with blue "i"s, especially the first one - it's in the second electric post as soon as you start

Nice hike in. Had trouble picking the trail back up once I reached the river.

One of So IL’s best spots. Been coming here since 90s. Technical enough to keep it interesting but still big kid friendly. Spent an amazing night there last night with unbelievably forgiving weather for July. We camped at a well established spot by the water about a 15-20 min hike from the north CH trailhead and before the Wolf Den. Took 5 ticks off my son this morning but none on me. Guess they don’t like the smell of bourbon. New hikers should be aware of the two options at the north trailhead. The left fork is more friendly if you’re packing heavy or not in prime condition. The right fork is a bit of rock and boulder hopping down into the valley.

backpacking
3 months ago

An early mile of poor marked trail, swiftly becomes a most awesome and varied nature experience. Its got groves, glens, rivers and roads. Perfect lunch spot at about mile 5.5 of the backpacking trail (rock ledge overlooking river). Very islolated - we didnt see a soul. Backpacking camps had bathrooms, garbage, picnic tables. There def are good water sources (not filtered) but need to plan that out - some would be hard to get to though you’re essentially following a river the whole time.

trail running
3 months ago

Have run this several times for the Kennekuk Road Runners annual event. Very enjoyable trail for central IL, and is for sure the gem of Kennekuk as a park.

Well marked trail. LOTS of fairly steep uphill climbs on this one. It was pretty muddy so the trail was rugged in many spots where you had to almost straddle the path to get footing. Beautiful spot on the lake on rock causeway. Not sure I would've ridden a horse on this trail that day due to muddy conditions, but several equestrians had in the day or two prior to our visit. If you are a beginner just know that this trail has some pretty steep ascents and with it being an out and back trail, you're going to have to come back down eventually. Please take a walking stick or trek pole to aid you especially if it's muddy.

Didn’t realize we’d be in full sun before heading out on a summer day - so I’d recommend going early morning or evening.... beautiful surroundings and saw many butterflies and birds. Gravel trail - so would be nice for biking.

hiking
3 months ago

Initially, great views as the trail winds near the creek. A dilapidated staircase takes you to the top of the ridge. We made it 1.7 miles from the trailhead, and the weeds became waist high so we decided to loop back. Overall, decent moderate hike.

hiking
4 months ago

We just did this trail, June 6, 2018. The day was about 83°. There is a long section through some pretty heavy overgrowth with almost no the creek with high hills on both sides. There wasn’t much wind or breeze so the bugs were getting annoying. That said it is June so if you do this during the summer bring some bug spray.

We saw plenty of deer, fawns, black squirrels, owls, hawks etc. the “red” backpack trail needs a few more clear signs. We wandered off the red trail a couple of times because some intersecting trails weren’t clearly marked. We added about 1-2 miles because of this.

This would be a great fall hike and overnight. There are a ton of places to hang a hammock or pitch a tent.

The people in the ranger main office were great. We had the trail to ourselves and didn’t see another hiker out there.

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