Hey, you! Take a Hike!

November 17 is National Take a Hike day.  And in Illinois’ Heritage Corridor, there are plenty of places for you to take that hike.

Group hiking in Starved Rock State Park

STARVED ROCK STATE PARK
Picturesque sandstone canyons, lush trees, and the occasional waterfall if you are visiting after a rain storm, make Starved Rock State Park a great place to get outside and get hiking.  13 miles of trails await, maps and color-coded posts to keep your oriented.  No matter what season you visit, Starved Rock will give you a different experience.  This article from Timeout Chicago named Starved Rock State Park the best hiking spot near Chicago.

Photo - Kathy Casstevens

Hiking in the lower dells of Matthiessen State Park

MATTHIESSEN STATE PARK
Five miles of well-marked, well-surfaced trails give you the option for either a relaxing walk or a vigorous hike.  Head into the interiors of the two dells to explore the beautiful geological wonders and gorgeous animal and plant life.  Named the #7 best hiking spot near Chicago by that previously linked Timeout Chicago article.

Photo - Instagram User @Mariantoniavl

Hiking on a path at the Heritage Quarries Recreation Areas

THE FORGE: LEMONT QUARRIES and HERITAGE QUARRIES RECREATION AREA
Just a few minutes from Downtown Lemont, the Heritage Quarries Recreation Area (as well as The Forge: Lemont Quarries which resides in this area) have several six miles of crushed stone for runners, hikers bikers and dog walkers.  Enjoy the beautiful nature, the shadows of The Forge zip towers, and the I&M Canal.   For those who wish to exercise or train in the HQRA, signs along the I&M Trail mark courses of 2 miles, 5k, and 5 miles, respectively. While on your beautiful hike keep an eye out for some native wildlife like Bald Eagles, grebe birds, coot birds and more. 

Photo - Village of Lemont

I&M Canal Pedestrian Bridge in Morris, IL

THE ILLINOIS & MICHIGAN CANAL STATE TRAIL
This trail is great for bikers due to its long length, but it is hiker friendly as well. The pathway runs along the old canal towpath from LaSalle to the historical quarry town of Lemont. Nearly every mile, you’ll find educational markers, so you can learn about the history of the canal and the stories of those who built and traveled the waterway. Many great animals call this trail home so, be sure to look for songbirds, mallards, green herons, beavers, deer and many more.

Photo - Tony Minard (Taken in Morris, IL)

GOODENOW GROVE NATURE PRESERVE
This preserve contains a diversity of habitats, including forest, prairie, wetland, and a portion of Plum Creek.  The preserve has 2.27 miles of natural surface trail, 0.48 mile of pavel trail, and 3.15 miles of crushed limestone trail.  You might see a variety of bird life, especially if join Saturday, November 14's Morning Bird Hike.  

Photo - Paul Dacko (Forest Preserve District of Will County)

View of Columbia Woods and Des Plaines River

COLUMBIA WOODS STATE PARK
The Columbia Woods is located along the Des Plaines River in Willow Spings, IL. At this forest preserve hikers, bikers, and canoeing is welcome and encouraged! Dog walking is also welcome so long as your pup stays on a leash. The centennial trail is over 9 miles long and has a paved surface. At the Cook County line, the north end of the trail connects to the Forest Preserve District of Cook County's Centennial Trail.

Photo - Forest Preserve District of Cook County

Hiking at Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie

MIDEWIN NATIONAL TALLGRASS PRAIRIE

That same Timeout article that named Starved Rock #1 named Midewin #4 in best hiking locations near Chicago. Today, about half of the 18, 225 acres of Midewin are open to the public, including over 34 miles of trails. If you are seeking out a peaceful undisturbed hike no worries, Midewin has 12 miles of trails are for hiking only. Over 22 miles of this gorgeous tallgrass prairie are open to bicycling, hiking, and horseback riding. 

Photo - Chris Tocke

Birds on a nesting perch - Lake Renwick Heron Rookery

LAKE RENWICK PRESERVE HERON ROOKERY
A 1.45 mile trail with the backdrop of a 200 acre lake with associated habit makes this a quiet and scene to hike.  A variety of bird species can be found, including the great blue heron and great egret.  You will also see a variety of plant species, including water stargrass and large-leaved pondweed.  Join the Forest Preserve District of Will County and Take a Hike on Sunday, November 15.

Photo - Chad Merda (Forest Preserve District of Will County)

Waterfall Glen path (surrounded by trees with many yellow and golden leaves)

WATERFALL GLEN

Located in Lemont, IL this 2,500-acre preserve has 11 miles of mapped trails. The limestone and turf-covered trails are perfect for hikers, horseback riding, cycling, and cross-country skiing when weather allows for it! The forest preserve also offers fishing and an orienteering course, model airplane field and youth group campground. 

Photo - Forest Preserve District of DuPage County

Scenes from the Corridor