Traveling Ted is a blog that takes readers along on my adventures hiking, canoeing, skiing, and international backpacking. Many blogs focus on one aspect of backpacking, but I tackle both the outdoor adventure side and international exploration as well.

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Hiking is a fun experience with family and friends. But, where will you find the excellent trails near Chicago? Below are the best day hikes near Chicago you might want to consider.

With the Windy City’s magnificent hiking grounds that offer peaceful hardwood forests, selfie-worthy waterfalls, river-sculpted canyons, and glacially molded ridges, day hiking would surely be a memorable experience. New or seasoned hikers salute and love the lengthy linear trails. Don’t worry if you’re from a different state, you can always stay in Chicago, with many types of accommodations to choose from.

Best Day Hikes Near Chicago

Starved Rock State Park Canyon Tour

The path is 12.3 miles from point to point and a 1.5-hour drive from town. Starved Rock State Park is the home of the greatest hiking in Illinois.

Day hikes near Chicago

Starved Rock is perhaps the gem of the Illinois State Parks system, and one of the best day hikes near Chicago.

Related: Kettle Moraine State Park camping and hiking

Small waterfalls conceal between the walled sandstone caverns, perfect for taking pictures and be mesmerized with the glacier-carved landscape. You can park your vehicle on the eastern edge near the Council Overhang and head west heading to LaSalle and Hennepin Canyons.

Bring your family and friends and experience nature at its best in this canyon tour, building precious memories that everyone will keep.

Des Plaines River Trail

Des Plaines River Trail – Wikimedia Creative Commons – By Dave Piasecki – Own work by the original uploader, Public Domain,

Des Plaines River Trail

The trail heads of this day hike include the Allison Woods Trail and the Sunset Bridge Meadow Trail with various trail access points along. This segment is 15.4 miles of the 56.2 miles of the Des Plaines River Trail. It’s perfect for folks who reside in near-downtown neighborhoods. Because of the soft soil, this path is suitable for mountain biking and running.

You can also get to this trail by bus or the Blue Line. From Thouey Road, one of the most-sought sections along this trail includes the Dam No. 4 Woods-East running through the intersection of S Dee/W Higgins. You can park your vehicle in a lot of Chippewa Woods and walk east on Touhy Road. From there, jump on the day hike trail heading south.

Ryerson’s Conservation Area

If you want to take a quiet trail, this 35-minute drive (not rush hour) day hike area is 6.5 miles in the Chicago area. The trail portion follows the bankside along the great Des Plaines River. You’ll experience a pleasant view and sound in the hiking area, a perfect getaway escape from the past.

Take the winding boardwalks and trails through the 561 acres hiking area, allowing you to create your route. You don’t have to replicate the same hike every time, which provides you a unique hiking experience every time.

If you want to see the looks of Chicago before the arrival of the Europeans, take the trails at Crabtree Nature Center. It traverses a preserved and restored tallgrass prairie with over 260 species of birds. This path is near Buffalo Grove with hundreds of ash, maple, hickory, and oak trees.

Bluff Trail, Matthiessen State Park

From town, this trail is a 1-hour and 40-minute drive. It offers beautiful and stunning views from atop over 45 feet ledges. You’ll love to take photos of the waterfall drop-offs, towering sandstone walls, and rocky floor.

green hiking trails

Green hiking trails found at Matthiessen State Park in Illinois

You’ll love hiking the northern dell area’s interior trail during summer and fall. The dried-up riverbed creates a rocky staircase for a great adventure. Appreciate the high traversing walls of the canyon side and beat cooling off under Cascade Falls’ chilly water.

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Ice Age Trail, Southern Unit

The trailhead of Ice Age Trail is in Pinewoods Campground. It’s 31 miles from point to point and a 2-hour drive from town. This path is ideal for rugged or backpack hiking trips. Also, the up-and-down valleys make a perfect degree of soaring elevation and relaxing descent. Thick evergreen forest and canopy surround hikers.

Ice Age hike

The iconic yellow blaze of the Ice Age Trail near Lake La Grange in South Kettle Moraine State Forest

Openlands Lakeshore Preserve

If you want an extraordinary backcountry hike, consider hiking in the Openlands Lakeshore Preserve. Experience quintessential Chicago adventure with a great combo of art, nature, and the local community. The paved paths are equipped with informative interpretive signs, so novice hikers who are heading this trail will be guided accordingly.

Because the main trail runs down the ravine features of the preserve, you’ll encounter a stunning 20 feet towering underpass mural. The serenity of the Lake Michigan shoreline provides a calming experience quiet. This path is ADA-accessible too, which is an added benefit when heading this trail.

Best Day Hikes Near Chicago Conclusion

Chicago offers over 100 trails in just a 30-minute drive downtown. Most of these trails are beautiful. So, if you’re looking for a wildlife encounter, an outdoor workout, or a bonding experience with your spouse and kids, the paths mentioned above are best day hikes.

Enjoy nature and life’s adventure by taking a day hike near Chicago.

Adventure on!

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