6 Of The Best Hiking Trails In Illinois

Hiking in Illinois is both exhilarating and provides countless hours of enjoyment. Whether you like dense forests, the potential to catch a glimpse of local fauna, or you’re just looking to work up a serious sweat – Illinois has it all. As a seasoned hiking enthusiast, I’d like to point you in the direction of these life-changing trails.

Hiking in Illinois is suitable for beginners, intermediates, and experts. It offers forest, paved trails, and spectacular rockfaces, while local fauna includes deer. Great Hiking trails include Indian Point Trail, North Fork Trail, Rim Rock Recreational Trail, and Sentinel, Sunset, Pine Trail.

Whether you want to plan a family hike or you want to enjoy a quiet and meaningful time in nature, Illinois can extend a helping hand. There is a little something to satisfy the heart of every hiker, so let’s examine them so you can excitingly plan your next trip.

Hiking In Illinois

Illinois has an impressive variety of hiking trails that caters to every hiking enthusiast. You’ll encounter woodlands, a multitude of hills, rocks, and dense forests that deer and other forms of fauna and flora call home. There are also some impressive lakes, such as Herrick Lake, which is the only natural lake in the country.  

Most of these trails welcome your canine companions, granted they are on a leash. In addition to hiking enthusiasts, joggers, cyclists, and those who love walks, also frequent the hiking trails of Illinois.

Beginner hikers can enjoy Indian Point Trail in the Garden Of The Gods Wilderness. It’s a 1.6-mile hike that takes you through pine forests and hardwood woodlands. You’ll descent into the bluffs, adventure into valleys and observe impressive rock formations.

Intermediates hikers will find Rim Rock Recreational Trail in Shawnee National Park, an enticing prospect. It has a rich geographical history and offers an upper loop and a lower loop that each provides a unique hiking experience.

Hiking veterans will come to enjoy either High Knob To Twin Towers Trail in Shawnee National Park and North Fork Trail in Clinton Lake State Recreational Area. They offer significant elevation features that are demanding, as well as rolling open plains and rolling woodlands.

Illinois Hiking Trails For The Whole Family

What better way to spend outdoor family time than on an exhilarating hike? The views are spectacular, and the health benefits just as much. Illinois is in no short supply of hikes accessible by the whole family and promises a memorable experience every time.

Indian Point Trail, Garden Of The Gods Wilderness

Indian Point Route is a 1.6-mile highly used circular trail near Harrisburg, Illinois, featuring magnificent wildflowers and suitable for hikers of all abilities. This hiking trail takes around 50 minutes to complete. The route provides a variety of activities and is open all year, including for leashed pets.

Before reaching the hill’s peak overlooking the surrounding valley, the Indian Point path travels through pine forest before switching to hardwood woodland. The route then loops back to the trailhead, passing numerous enormous rock formations as it descends below the cliff.

As you follow the bluff line and descend below the bluff, you’ll get a magnificent view of the surrounding valley and see some beautiful rock formations. Overall, it’s an excellent little trip with many sights to keep everyone interested.

You may also choose to take a left at the fork, which will result in a few elevation changes but nothing that will be problematic. You may also combine it with a visit to the Garden of the Gods, immediately next door.

The first half-mile to Indian Point is a simple out-and-back, while the tricky section begins after the Point and includes some little scrambling along the rocks. The cliffs are breathtaking, and you can climb into some of the caves. Furthermore, the views are spectacular, especially during the time of year when the trees are bare. 

As a result, some hikers consider this a path of easy-to-moderate difficulty. There are many rocks and roots, tunnels, and enormous overgrown trees.

Herrick Lake Trail, Warrenville Grove Forest Reserve

Herrick Lake Path is an 8-mile, extensively traveled circle trail in Warrenville, Illinois, with a lake, and the difficulty is suitable for all ability levels. The path is open all year and provides a variety of engaging activities. Dogs are if you keep them on a leash. The estimated time to complete this hiking trail is 3 hours and 22 minutes.

This route connects Danada Equestrian Center and Herrick Lake, two locations famous for their natural beauty. With a calm lake, little woodlands, plains, and an outstanding equestrian center, although they only offer lessons, not trail rides. Furthermore, Herrick Lake is highly picturesque and the county’s lone natural lake.

The paved parking lot off of Herrick Road at the west end of the route has six designated accessible spaces, all van-accessible and have striped access lanes.

The trail surface consists of crushed limestone that is at least 6 feet wide. The path is mostly mild, although the unpaved surface may need all-terrain tires or motorized equipment. Resting areas include benches and picnic tables throughout the path and wheelchair-accessible restrooms near the trail’s western terminus.

This hiking path also has a few connecting trails, contributing to the hike’s overall appeal. Depending on the day, it may be busy with hikers, cyclists, and runners, so keep a lookout.

Illinois Hiking Trails For The Intermediate Hiker

Illinois has you covered when easy is not your cup of tea, and you prefer to work up a sweat! They are a good number of demanding trails that will put you through your paces, so it’s time to start your checklist and warm those muscles.

Rim Rock Recreational Trail, Shawnee National Park

Rim Rock Recreational Route is a 1.6-mile lightly used circle trail with spectacular wildflowers in Junction, Illinois. The path is open all year and is excellent for hiking, jogging, and camping. If your dog is on a leash, they are welcome to join you. This hiking trail should take up to 56 minutes to complete.

While meandering among gigantic rock formations, the Rim Granite Trail goes around the rim of a rock escarpment before descending a gap in the rock face to the valley bottom. Rim Rock has a long history of attracting hikers and picnickers to its wooded cliffs.

Because of its outstanding natural beauty and historical significance, it was named a national recreation path in 1980. Early settlers dubbed it “the Pounds,” an ancient English phrase that meant “some type of enclosure.”

Consequently, “Pounds Hollow,” the valley to the east, was born. Hikers may walk around the top rim of the “Pounds,” a circular 40-acre parcel of land separated from the surrounding terrain by steep sandstone cliffs, on an 8-mile track.

This path is usually in the shape of figure eight, with an upper loop to the left and a lower loop to the right, providing distinct sensations.

The top route is flagstone-paved and gives a more pleasant experience than the bottom loop. The higher loop encircles the Rim Rock’s circumference. Native Americans created an impressive antique stone wall 1,500 years ago to “close off” the top of the rock.

The bottom loop, on the other hand, is more complicated. You drop into a canyon and go beneath the Rim Rock, passing through Ox Lot Cave and The Squeeze. A lovely brook with bridges and steps runs through it.

Sentinel, Sunset, Pine Trail, Palisades State Park

Sentinel, Sunset, and Pine Path is a 4.5-mile lightly trafficked circular trail that includes Savanna, Illinois. The track is famous for hiking; however, dogs on a leash are welcome to join. This path should take about 2 hours and 33 minutes to complete.

Native American pathfinders along the Mississippi River’s rock palisades did what modern hikers do: they chose the most direct route through the bluffs. The Mississippi Palisades’ trails transport you to another age, particularly those on the park’s southern sections.

The park’s complicated 15-mile trail system is the best way to experience the park’s diverse plant and animal life. The park’s five northern trails are typically broader and less challenging than the park’s five southern paths, which are small and dangerously near the cliff. The southern routes are particularly prone to flooding, making them potentially dangerous.

High Point Trail is 3.5 miles long, while Aspen is 1.9 miles long in the North System. Sentinel Trail is the most extended trek in the South System, at 1.2 miles, including spurs, but it and the other southern loops are not for the faint of heart.

A paved trail leads to an overlook at Ozzies Point, Louis Point, and Lookout Point, four created views accessible by short hikes. Oak Point also has a trail surface that is ideal for a less strenuous path. 

Illinois Hiking Trails For The Born Mountaineer

If you’re a hiking veteran who loves seeking the next challenge, Illinois can provide you with a memorable experience. There are a handful of these trails that will certainly push your limits and help you transcend your hiking skillset.    

High Knob To Twin Towers Trail, Shawnee National Park

The High Knob To Twin Towers Loop Path is a 6-mile moderately trafficked loop trail with a cave, and it rates as one of the more difficult trails. It exists near Junction, Illinois. The path is open all year and is famous for hiking, walking, camping, and backpacking. You may wear your dog’s tag alone as long as they are on a leash at all times.

The High Knob, River to River, and Shawnee National Forest trail systems connect to this path. The High Knob Loop Trail, Twin Towers, Buzzard Point, a bat cave, and other rock formations and woodland settings are among some of the interconnected landscapes.

This hiking trail takes 3 hours and 10 minutes to complete. The favorite look is the high knob loop, which consists of two side-by-side loops that take you around several spectacular rock formations. Many horses walk the paths in the Twin Towers section, making it seem decrepit and offering nothing in the way of the landscape.

Because the route signs can be a little confusing, most hikers choose to download a map on their phones. The trail’s difficulty level is between moderate and challenging, with plenty of rock formations and bluffs to explore, making it a great winter trek when the leaves aren’t covering the vistas.

North Fork Trail, Clinton Lake State Recreational Area

Clinton Lake is a 9-mile lightly trafficked circular path with a beautiful woodland environment near Clinton, Illinois. The North Fork Trail is a popular hiking route in the area. Hiking, running, and bird

The completion time is at around 4 hours and 8 minutes. Because of the number of hills, this path is ideal for solid cardio exercise. You can’t get lost on this one either because the marks are pretty distinct.

It also includes several lovely but limited routes with significant elevation variations. It’s worth mentioning many spiders have built webs over the route, so walk with a stick in front of you or come back in the Fall!

It’s a tiny trail, but enough people use it to maintain it well-traveled and free of weeds. Following the route will lead you to various mushrooms and some wild blackberries. There are also a lot of hills that are sure to keep you intrigued and on your toes.

A remarkable experience is part of the variety of rolling open plains and rolling woodlands, as well as stunning lakes. There are a lot of gradual ascents and descents, and this route is also home to a large number of deer. It is ideal for hikers who enjoy tiny surprises or take photos.

Conclusion

Beginners wanting a pleasant experience can opt for Indian Point Trail in Garden Of The Gods Wilderness. The more serious hikers may prefer Sentinel, Sunset, Pine Trail in Palisades State Park, or High Knob To Twin Towers Trail in Shawnee National Park.