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Hikes Near Chicago

Chicago, IL
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355 posts
Hikes Near Chicago


I'm actually a Chicago resident, but have a question for the experts here. I have Wednesday off work, and the weather rates to be great. I love camping and hiking out west, but am looking to take more advantage of our home turf.

Wondering what some folks favorite hikes are. It's been a while since I've been to Starved Rock and Mathiessen State Parks, but they're definitely on my radar. I think for Wednesday I'm going to target Northwest Indiana or Michiana. The area is so expansive though, I'm not sure where to point myself. Wondering if anyone has favorite hikes, beach or forested, that would rate from moderate to challenging.

Basically hoping to depart once traffic starts to die down (relatively speaking), hike/explore/relax all late morning and afternoon, and maybe wait out rush hour over a pint somewhere.

Also, a bit more of a long shot, but forecast dependent I may actually opt to camp. So if anyone has a favorite site/loop at any location, I'm all ears! It looks like Indiana Dunes N.P. has a fair amount of first-come-first-serve sites. I'm usually one for dispersed camping, but that may be a tougher pull locally vs. some of the larger national forests out west.

Any thoughts or rec's are greatly appreciated!



7 replies to this topic
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4,209 posts
43 reviews
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1. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

Since you live here you know since it has been so soggy lately I would imagine most paths are pretty muddy. Looks like it is going to rain again on Tuesday. Low on Wed is 60 still pretty chilly & wet for any camping. Hope you find something fun to do.

Chicago, IL
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355 posts
2. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

Thanks for the reminder - genuinely. So itching to get outside probably a consideration I should give more thought too.

Camping-wise I'm not as much concerned about temps, I'd rate 60 to be on the balmy side.

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3. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

Warren Dunes is great for camping but the hikes are short. You could stop at Indiana Dunes on the way.

For just a day trip look at Palos. Nothing is difficult but there are some long hikes.

Chicago, Illinois
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4. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve (https:/…) in southwest burbs or Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie (https:/…hiking) in Wilmington might work. Again I don't think they are challenging hikes but you could get some length. Don't think camping is allowed.

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5. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

Good point about muddy trails. We were on the big loop in Palos a few weeks ago - the tunnel under LaGrange Road wasn't passable for us.

Starved Rock and Matthiessen are always great, with lots of options.

If you are looking at Northwest Indiana, the Cowles Bog trail is my favorite. Park at the small lot next to the Dune Acres guard shack. It's really stunning when you first see Lake Michigan from the trail. When we go there, we always eat lunch at Bartlett's Gourmet Grill.

My favorite trail in Palos is the Esker Trail at Cap Sauer Holdings.

If you want a long hike, you could go all the way around Waterfall Glen - it's about 10 miles.

Chicago's North...
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for Illinois, Chicago
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6. Re: Hikes Near Chicago

how far you willing to drive?

in regards to the likely muddiness of local trails, i'd opt for indiana dunes STATE park where the trails might be kinda sandy, thus less muddy....maybe... decent trails there... if you're willing to drive 3-4 hours, consider turkey run state park in west-central indiana.... good trails, some of which trek over rock formations and mini slot canyons....

but for the best midwest hiking, you'd prolly hafta head up to da yoop, but it's definitely colder, there still could be some snow on the ground, and little or no foliage has leafed out yet.... BUT, you could camp at pictured rocks (or in the porkies), where you'd prolly have the park(s) to yourself....

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7. Re: Hikes Near Chicago


I know the IP was going this past Wednesday, but this info might be relevant for anyone planning to go to Starved Rock this weekend.

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