Explore the most popular views 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.

trail running
16 hours ago

Great challenge!! It was a little difficult to follow the white diamonds to reach the other side once you got down into the canyon, but other than that it was a wonderful workout and a lovely hike.

18 hours ago

Great trail for kids and pets. Flat paved trails near the river and moderate dirt trails up to the bird sanctuary. Bird sanctuary is worth the trip. Lots to explore!

Beautiful views. Not sure about the easy rating with the elevation climb, but I made it.

Great for a relaxing walk...even with kids. Love the view of the lake...peaceful.

Nice little walk with the kids for their first hike. Went in late winter/early spring so new growth and animal tracks to point out. Very limited parking and a couple trucks flew by when were getting out.

Really lovely trail all along the way. Easy to follow except at the stream crossings. There are no bridges so if the water is up like it was for us you will need to wade. I built a rocky causeway to pass the first crossing upstream but the downstream crossing was much too deep and we had to get our feet wet. The spring is not visible from the trail and appears on the map to source several miles away which may be visible from another road which passes through that way(just by visual inspection on a map). The trail was easy to follow in most places though some spots we lost it due to sharp turns and lack of arrows indicating the proper path which caused us to do some unnecessary ledge crawling. The sentry bluff trail(Blue diamonds) travels along with part of the Natural bridge trail(Yellow Diamonds) close to the parking area where the natural bridge can be seen across the creek. However unless coming in a dry/low water season you will be getting your feet wet to see the natural bridge or to hike any trails on the other side of the stream. Both the entire length of the sentry trail we took and the finale of the natural bridge at the end were stunningly beautiful. A spraying water fall into the keyhole of the natural bridge gave rise to a small rainbow next to a a large snaking tree which climbed the height of the bridge into the canopy above.
Definitely well worth the visit. Better trail marking in places and bridges for stream crossings would make my 5 star review.

3 days ago

Incredible place that almost no one knows about. A true gem. Amazing rock outcroppings and a view that is as good as any in the area. The "stone face" itself is somewhat small, but very cool in my opinion. The trail however is hard to navigate after you come down off the bluffs. In this case I recommend turning around and coming back the way you came after a certain point (the power line cut), or when you come down off the ridge, just walk directly along the bluffs until you come back to the original trail, or can make your way to the parking lot. Worth every bit of the trouble.

5 days ago

At Schweitzer Woods you will find a 5 acre fenced dog park with a large open play space in addition to some wooded trail hiking. Surrounding the fenced dog park is 150 acres of beautiful unfenced trail hiking through woods and meadows. I found it a little odd that both wooded trails dead end to nowhere.

Bring your own water/bowl for your dog.

Most of the forested area was designated as an Illinois Nature Preserve. Extensive restoration efforts have been made here to eradicate non-native shrubs from woodland tracts.

Kenyon Farm Forest Preserve in South Elgin is very simple and pleasant, with a small parking lot and paths not paved but mowed into the greenery. A small pond and several interesting trees.

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.

6 days ago

Nice Loop. Fun rock formations, couple creek crossings, good variety. The trail marking are poor. The first part is fine follow it across the creek and up the next hill, you will come to a marker telling you to turn left to the rock formations, take it left as indicated. (the trail straight forward is the river to river trail). I in a short distance down the hill you will come across the rock formation, take time to explore, then continue north, down the hill on the established trail, you will come to the creek again, cross it and stay on the established trail, (you may see a sign that says panther den with an arrow telling you to turn right, ignore it) following the creek, crossing it again, the trail heads up the hill to the left, which shortly heads back south towards the trail head, you will come to another intersection that says trail head left, take it left and will join the trail you came in on, turn right, and your about 1/4 mile from the parking lot.

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.

6 days ago

Hiked the smaller loop today, beautiful wooded areas. Not bad for our first time out. Maybe next time we will follow th map!

lots of bikes. took our dogs and found a trail that was quiet andd woodsy. dogs loved it. main entrance was very busy and lots of bikes. my dogs hate bikes

The rock formations are worth the hike.

If you cross the railroad tracks and go over to the Jackson Hollow side, the hike is even better. If you know where the other trails are in that area you can link them all together to make a nice weekend backpacking trip. It’s the best backpacking in the Shawnee. If you do Jackson Hollow stay near the cliffs. The trail is faint ever since they kicked horses out of that area. To cross the tracks, when the trail hits the tracks, turn left and walk down the tracks about 400 yards and you will see on the other side the place to cross into it. There is a large trail that runs down the bottom of the valley but you will want to get up by the cliffs. The Promise Land climbing area is over on that side of the tracks. My hike starts on the Jackson Hollow side crosses the tracks goes through the Jackson Falls area up the dog walk and back to our campsite. I’ve been hiking this area for about 50 years.

Nice park. Great signage all of the trails are labeled. There are different trails you can do and numerous scenic look out points. Also a scenic drive if you want to go back to the top to take some photos or watch the sun set.

Enjoy the inside trails. They are so much fun and very scenic.

The trail was in great shape. Markings are very easy to see and there are plenty of them. If you are doing the full loop you want to take Dogwood (it splits, left is neat), then it turns into Ridge, then Hickory, then Hickory North, then be sure to peel off left to Fern Hollow, cross the road and continue. Then Hickory South. The last mile marker you will see is 5miles. Roughly 5.5 mile loop.

I rate this trail a 3, mainly because the park is so littered. The up keep of the park is terrible. I tried to take some of the trash out but really it didn’t put a dent in it. However The natural bridge is an awesome geological site reminds me of the one in Kentucky just not as big or isolated. The trail was easy, as long as the water isn’t up which can block you from getting to it.

We spend an amazing Sunday. Great super easy track with a pinch of technology.

My favorite for my skill level.

This Trail Is small VERY SMALL! but worth the stop it is listed in the Smothsonia as the top 50 in the USA! On Smithsonia.Com and top for Illinois very Beautiful place. if you trail it it dont take long but in my case it lasted for almost 9 hours .Put me in a Wilderness and I'll stay as long as possible and cry when I have to leave. There are a few folks walking around but I seem to be able to figure out where to go to get away from them plus I went in the middle of the week so that helps. beautiful place I was there in Oct 2017 for the fall colors PERFECT!!!!!!!!

Its a very pretty touristy Trail I didnt see much of anyone and really ever do but look at the time I go . I aint much of a people person when im on a trail so I stay away from them and pick my times according if Im visiting a tourist/Disney Style trail. I always park in down town Ottawa and Backpacked to the 1st Canyon Trail (Horse Shoe Canyon and then pack from there all the way to the end (Visitor Center/Inn/Bar) Then I pack my way back to Ottawa. I do this just about every year . I love winter pack-ins and enjoy camping outside in the winter-freeze(Less people) so this is always a good winter start to my new year. I usually do it sometime in the month of Jan. I stay on the trail( which is frowned on) but I believe and live !!NO TRACE!! so no-one ever knows I was there and thats not saying much because although it is frowned on that I renegade camp this area has got alot of trash from your so-called-nature-lovers who throw away just about everything they carry in on the ground as they walk through this park !!!!!! It makes me so angry!!!!! You came with it so leave with it !! Its lighter now!!! so carry it out! If campgrounds-Trails-Wildernesses-Forests and Parks had trash everywhere people would complain "Dont go there its a Dump!" WELL MY FRIENDS YOU ARE THE REASON IT IS A DUMP. Outside of that rant I really enjoy my 2-half day Pack-in during the winter here and yes as I move along I pick up the trash left behind by others .Its not enough I carry 47lbs of winter backpacking gear on my back I carry a bag of your trash to throw away as well. SHOW RESPECT ,LEAVE NO TRACE!

Excellent trails lots of friendly runners!

Definitely harder than I anticipated!

12 days ago

This was an awesome trail. Hiked it 2/27. The trail is really easy to follow for the most part. There are a few tricky spots though. I highly recommend picking up the friends of the Shawnee map before hiking this. I took trail 481 to 483 to 457, crossed at the Bowed Tree Crossing and followed trail 001 (River to River trail) to Owl Bluff. After stopping at Owl Bluff, I continued on trail 001. The track on this app does not stay on 001. It looks like they cut through the woods to trail 490. I stayed on 001 until it meets 490. However, trail 490 was very hard to spot from the river to river trail. It’s the only trail intersection I encountered that didn’t have a sign and it kind of looked like an animal trail at first. I passed right by it but I was able to notice so on the map. Once I backtracked a little and found 490, I followed it to 457 and then 486 to Saltpeter Cave. I then followed 481 back to my car. My GPS said it was 9.2 miles with 1000 feet of ascent. It took me about 5 hours so bring water and snacks, but don’t litter! I filled a grocery bag up with trash on my hike. Owl Bluff and Saltpeter Cave were the highlights, but the whole area is filled with beautiful views of Lusk Creek and many ephemeral streams that feed it.

Awesome trail to hike on a lazy day

13 days ago

Easy flat trail very family friendly and running friendly. Would suggest doing Salt lick trail of you want to as some adventure and incline on the way back to the parking lot.

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