Explore the trails, caves, waterfalls and nature at this hidden gem located in North Central Illinois call Matthiessen State Park!
Located in North Central IL are two parks that are great to explore. They are Staved Rock and Matthiessen State Park. Starved Rock is well known, but Matthiessen is a hidden gem that doesn't really look much like the rest of Illinois.
If you want to explore the dells like we did, make sure to park in the Northern lot if there is room and you'll take some distance off your hike.
The trails are well maintained with decking, dirt and bridges. Exploring along the river bed is a more challenging, but fun endeavor.
You can explore the trails around the edges of the river, or go down in to it and explore from there. Once you are at the bottom, don't forget to look up at the beautiful tree canopy above you.
Caves and Waterfalls
There are small caves and many waterfalls. Unfortunately the waterfalls were just a mere trickle since it was rather dry during our visit. In the main area, you can go in the cave off to the left, and make your way around the edge of the water. Just make sure to be careful as we saw many people slip and fall into the water backpack and all. I was lucky enough to manage with my camera in hand, and escaped perfectly dry.
As you walk along the eroded river bed you'll find all sorts of rock formations and trail types. One area even has cement stepping stones to keep out of the water, but it can be a challenge for some to get through them.
You can get a little wet, but there is no swimming or wading allowed in the Park.
If you have a little extra time on your hands or want to make a full day of it, Matthiessen State Park would make a great choice. You can also check it out in the fall when the leaves start to change colors for a different, yet even more beautiful experience.
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