We are finally approaching hiking weather; the best season of the year. Here is a list on some of the best hiking spots I have personally traveled to. They aren't in any specific order.
1. Starved Rock
Located in Oglesby, this place is 2,630 acres and is filled with waterfalls and 18 canyons. There are 13 miles of trails to explore where you can see natural springs, waterfalls, sandstone overhangs and many overlooks. The Illinois River is also nearby where you can fish, boat and just have a great place to relax.
2. Shawnee National Forest
Located in Harrisburg, this place has approximately 280,000 acres of land. There is a canyon called the Little Grand Canyon located within the forest. Shawnee is ideal for all sorts of outdoor recreation such as camping, climbing, fishing, horse riding and so much more. The forest includes landscape such as rolling hills, forests, open lands, lakes, creeks and rugged bluffs.
3. Matthiessen State Park
Located in Utica, this place has many beautiful rock formations. There are canyons that drop 45 feet. The main canyon has an Upper and Lower Dell that provides an interesting walking tour. The Upper Dell starts by Deer Park Lake and continues on to Cascade Falls where the canyon drops 45 feet and the Lower Dells begin. Visitors may observe ground water seeping out along the sandstone of the canyon walls. The Dells area also has an area for picnicking and just relaxing. There are also places for skiing from December through March.
4. Moraine Hills State Park
Located in McHenry, this place has 2,200 acres of wetlands and lakes. There are more than 10 miles of trails for hiking, skiing, geocaching and bike riding. There is a 48-acre lake near the center of the park. This lake is one of the few glacial lakes in Illinois that has remained undeveloped, which has maintained a near natural condition.
5. Castle Rock State Park
Located in Oregon, this place has six miles of trails. When the weather permits there are areas for skiing and tobogganing. There are one-and-a-half miles for fishing and a boat ramp available for public use. Catfish is the most common fish caught here. There is only one area to camp which is only accessible by boat or canoe. If you're someone who likes to hunt, they have limited deer, turkey, and squirrel hunting here.
I hope you take the time to check some of these beautiful places out and all of the other parks Illinois has to offer. I know I am going to be spending my summer exploring the hidden areas of nature that Illinois has provided between corn fields.