Although Chicago is a large metropolitan city, many hiking trails are still within reach. Since this city is close to Lake Michigan and Indiana, experiencing a change in scenery is easily attainable. The American Midwest is full of various terrains, picturesque lakes, scenic waterfalls, and wildlife. So, hiking near Chicago not only provides great exercise, but it also gets you close to the majestic beauty of nature. Here are some hiking trails close to Chicago for you to explore:
This 18-mile paved trail runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. It also leads visitors through the center of Downtown. Both locals and tourists walk this trail throughout the year. The Chicago Lakefront Trail passes by many parks, public beaches, and areas to stop and sightsee. The northern part of the trail begins at Grant Park and winds its way through several local attractions. For instance, Navy Pier, the Chicago History Museum, the Museum of Contemporary Art, North Avenue Beach, Lincoln Park, Montrose Beach, and Belmont Harbor. Many of the apartments offered by Blueground run alongside the Chicago Lakefront Trail in the neighborhoods of South Loop, Streeterville, Gold Coast, and more. As a Blueground tenant, aside from living in one of the most sought after areas, you’ll get a fully-furnished space to call your own. Download the Blueground Guest App to seamlessly request cleaning and maintenance. So, the apartment will have the amenities of a hotel with the luxuries of home. For stays in Chicago of one month, one year or even longer, Blueground is your best bet.
Starved Rock State Park is a two-hour drive from Chicago and is best known for its beautiful canyons. There are 18 canyons inside the park, 14 of which feature stunning waterfalls. With over 13 miles of trails, that are open year-round, there is a lot to experience. Much of what you’ll see as you explore the park includes large, moss-covered stone walls formed by glacial meltwater.
If you plan to spend most of the day here, the Illinois Canyon Trail is a great option. It’s 9.4 miles, there and back, and is a naturally formed trail. That means there are no man-made walkways or stairs. When hiking this trail after a heavy rain, you’ll be able to spot five small waterfalls along the path and one large one at the trail’s end.
Only 25 miles outside of Chicago, the hike at the Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve sits on nearly 2,500 acres of prairies and woodlands. The trail has crushed limestone and permits people to hike, bike, or ride horses along the 9.5-mile loop. Some trails accommodate skiers in the winter months and during the hot days, the large number of trees provide plenty of shade cover. There are spots along the trail that overlook the Des Plaines River. While walking along the Rocky Glen trail there is a serene waterfall. Several areas along the trail make for a comfortable picnic spot.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is a short one-hour drive from Downtown Chicago. In 1996, this area became the first U.S. National Tallgrass Prairie. Since then, the U.S. Forest Service and National Forest Foundation work to restore the 20,000-acre native ecosystem. They’ve also reintroduced Bison to the prairie, which was their home many years ago. As for recreational activities, you can hike over 33-miles of trails. Some of the trails are also open for biking, dog walking, and horseback riding. As for the biking trails, they’re made of crushed limestone or gravel, so it’s recommended to use a fat-tire bike here. The hiking trails are made of either mulched or mowed grass.
Matthiessen State Park offers more options for hiking near Chicago. There are several designated trails throughout this 2,000-acre park that take you through canyons, streams, and forests. While hiking the six-and-a-half mile moderate loop on the Dells to Vermillion River Trail, you’ll find scenic views of the river and a large cascading waterfall. People like this trail for birdwatching and for taking nature walks to explore the local landscapes. You can bring your dog here, but he or she must stay on a leash.
The West Beach 3-Loop trail offers intermediate to difficult hiking near Chicago. Only 40 miles southeast of Chicago, you can discover the beauty of this trail located inside Indiana Dune National Lakeshore. While hiking the loops, you can immerse yourself in the unique dune landscape. If you want to see panoramic views of Lake Michigan and Chicago, take a climb up 250 stairs to Dune Succession Overlook. While walking the sandy trail, you can also spot a variety of waterfowl and a view of Long Lake. To complete the loops, it’s approximately three-and-a-half miles long.
The Kankakee River State Park spreads across 4,000-acres and has a trail system with almost six miles of trails. It takes about one-and-a-half hours to reach the park from Downtown Chicago. Inside the park, you’ll see a variety of wildlife, a limestone canyon, and an 11-mile stretch of the Kankakee River. Along the three-mile Rock Creek Trail, you’ll walk through wooded bluffs and see a gorgeous eight-foot waterfall. During the winter months, when there is at least four inches of snow on the ground, the trails open up for snowmobiling.