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.

Nice walk with minimal other dogs and people. Plenty of open space easily accessible off the trail to take my owner through the forest or across the prairie. Have your owner bring poo bags and carry them back out to the trash can at the parking lot. There were even restroom facilities for my owner.

I only rate this as a moderate hike because of the distance. It is a very easy hike. The western side is the best part of the hike. I would hike counterclockwise to save the best for last. several backpack camps all with fire rings and tables. trail is easy to follow if you use their map.

This trail is only the McKee Marsh area. Blackwell is actually south and east of the outlined trail.

Refer to the listing for “Regional, Bobolink, and Catbird” for Blackwell forest preserve.

Love this park! Beautiful bluff views of the river!

For Illinois, this is about the best you can find for overnight backpacking trips. It is VERY hilly, the campsites are great as well. I went during winter, can't wait to go back during summer. About 3 hours from Chicago.

trail running
1 month ago

Remote, wilderness trail! Didn’t see another soul! Trail descends to the unique, spring-fed Hutchins Creek.

nice for as close to town as it is, easy to get to and not a bad hike unless the ground is soggy

1 month ago

At Blackwell’s McKee Marsh, the 13,000-year-old skeleton of a woolly mammoth — one of the oldest finds of its kind in northeastern Illinois — was discovered in 1977.

1 month ago

King Hollow Trail is a Forest Service trail that starts off the Godwin Trail. This is close to the river to river trail system. check this website out for detailed maps and information. http://rivertorivertrailhike.com/ No great scenery, but very quiet. Trail was in pretty good shape. But keep your map and compass handy as it isn't well marked. I didn't see anyone else on this trail. no water source till the end at the creek. I started on the east Godwin trail head and hiked west to the King Hollow trail. Hiked a mile east on King Hollow and camped off the side of the trail for the night. Hiked the rest of King Hollow in the morning. The end of King Hollow ends at one of the forks of Hutchins Creek. There is supposed to be another trail on the other side of the creek. I was trying to do a loop, but I couldn't the entrance, so instead of turning around, I bushwhacked and followed the Creek back down to the Godwin trail and hiked out. There is another trail that I ran into following the creek. It went along an old homestead, and you can see old farm machinery and an old car. I think most of these trails were abandoned roads from the 30's. Anyway there was a decent trail system in the two wilderness areas. I am going to make another trip down to explore the other trails i didn't hike on.

Nice area to unwind and enjoy nature. The trail is maintained but very slippery in winter. Nothing complicated or technical skills needed, just a good pair of hiking boots and some water.

2 months ago

I have backpacked this trail in pretty all seasons, the best time I think is in the winter with snowshoes. But the great trail to try out new gear and prep for longer trails. I like to use it for testing out gear, the trail can be hiked in a day, however, you can hike it twice in a weekend.

The trail is not marked the best as some say it is, and most of the man-made structures like bridges, steps assists are pretty warned or just crap. Some parts of the trail are near private residents and they have several dogs that do roam and like to chase day hikers, backpackers. The trail starts out flat but half of it is up and down and side of the hills. If you have knee or foot problems probably better take it slow or go with a buddy.

Overall fun time and always an adventure. Except for the $10.00 for the permit. See ya'll out on the trail!

David "Hippie Hiker"

Beautiful yet so many ticks!

I have hiked sections of this trail multiple times, and this is the first time I did the whole loop. Great trail.

3 months ago

Took the Godwin Trail in from the East Trail head. Overall the trail was in good shape, not much for views, but very secluded. There are many other trails in the area, and I wanted to make a loop hike, so I hiked the Godwin trail east to west over to the King hollow trail. Hiked about a mile of that Saturday and camped overnight. Most of the King Hollow trail was in great shape. It got a little hairy when I got to the end of the King hollow trail. I could not find the Hutchins Creek trail to take me back south the the Godwin Trail. So instead I followed the actual creek bank back down until I found a trail. It wasn't the most fun experience... I did get to see the remiinatnts of a old homestead, while walking along Hutchins Creek, which is also where I found the trail to get me back down to the Godwin trail. However if you stay on the Godwin Trail it is in good shape. The only tough navigating part is when the Godwin trial crosses Hutchins Creek. Pay attention and look for blazes there.

3 months ago

This is a hilly trail for the area, which isn’t saying much. There are some steep inclines, but for the most part it’s sort of monotonous since the woods around the lake are very new growth with lots of underbrush. The notable exception to this is right around the trail to the Collins site, near the dam. The views of the lake are pretty, and there are several convenient benches. It’s a nice hike, but underwhelming in late November. I might try again in the spring.

4 months ago

One of the best trails in the entire Midwest! This trail takes you around a scenic lake in Kennekuk Cove Country Park. It's great for running (a challenging, somewhat hilly course) that great for your dog too! Enjoy this loop and it's serenity. The summer months (especially July-September) means a bit of bugs, but quite a few spider webs on the course. If you go on a weekend in the later morning, afternoon, some folks probably will have already walked it, and taken care of the spider webs that intersect the trail. It's a great loop either way!

on River Ridge Trail

5 months ago

I love this trail. It’s a great place to practice & hone one’s backpacking skills. There’s a small stream near the East Camp that is a suitable water source for filtration.

Awesome trail but it was pretty tough with a 20 pound backpack. Lots of ups and downs. It may seem a lot harder to me because I am a beginner.

Very sandy

It has some tough inclines, but was a joy to home through!

Enjoyed the beautiful hike with a few steep climbs. Looking forward to future walks here.

loved it

7 months ago

Very wooded trail in a nice park. Great recreational opportunity in central Illinois. Other than a few steep inclines, I did not find this trail to be very challenging, however. .

Excellent trail! Well marked, nice challenging hike.

Fun trail, the gravel was very lose in many spots. I rode a trek ds 2 and I had a few issues keeping traction.

I go on this trail often. My only complaint is in some spots it's really overgrown and almost hard to tell what is the trail and what is just the forest. it's not marked out very well but no matter what way you go it's simply to find your way back to the beginning. it's definitely beautiful and great exercise

Decently marked trails. Even in wet weather, the trails don't get too muddy. Lots of equestrian activity.

The trail was well marked, however some of the crossing structures were either missing or broken. Overall, this is a great trail for overnight hiking. Plenty of water too.

I did the total yellow loop. Very nice trail, but be careful after heavy rain. It is clear that lots of parts flood after a storm. Give it a couple days and it will be ok. I went on a Sunday and traffic was low to none in some parts. Very nice interaction with trail runners, hikers, and horse riders. This trail must be very beautiful when foliage blooms in a month or so. I highly recommend it!

11 months ago

Absolutely beautiful and hardly anyone on the trails!

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