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6 Scenic Hiking Trails You Can Enjoy near Chicago

6 Scenic Hiking Trails You Can Enjoy near Chicago

Chicago is a modern city that has much to offer each traveler. Rich history, exciting entertainment, amazing cuisine, and many iconic sights are on the list of the most interesting things you can enjoy there. However, after long hours of exploring the city, you may want to relax a bit and breathe some fresh air. What to do in this case? 

You can pick up SUV rental Chicago and set off out of the city. There are many great hiking spots within driving distance of Chicago, and you can easily find them in a rental car. SUV rental in Chicago will take you to some of the wildest and most beautiful places, where you can expect an unforgettable hiking experience.

Yes, hiking is a very rewarding activity at any time of the year. You exercise your leg muscles while taking in the breathtaking natural views of Chicago. Plus, exploring new places fosters creative thinking and is generally good for your brain. 

Well, if you’re looking for scenic walks near Chicago, here are some great places to get to with a rental car!

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Trail 

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie Trail

It will take you less than an hour to get to the Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie from Chicago. Here you can go hiking, biking, or horseback riding on more than 22 miles of scenic trails running through 19,000 acres of protected national forest. Bison were brought back to the prairie in 2015, so many visitors come here to see these creatures in their natural habitat. 

Due to the flat terrain, all routes are convenient for beginners and children. The Bison Trail allows you to see some of the animals up close as they roam and graze. Take your binoculars with you so you don’t miss anything. 

Trail route type: loop trail 

Length: 3.6 miles

Difficulty: easy

Height Difference: 52 feet

Des Plaines River Trail 

Des Plaines River Trail 

The Des Plaines River Trail stretches over 50 miles along the Des Plaines River, just a 20-minute drive west of Chicago. The best part of the trail is the 10-mile southern section beginning at Fullerton Woods. How to get there? Starting from Fullerton, head north along the river to Campground Road Woods. On the way, you will pass through forest reserves and enjoy the ease of walking along a well-groomed trail.

Trail route type: point-to-point 

Length: 10.6 miles

Difficulty: easy

Height Difference: 187 feet

Lakefront Trail 

Lakefront Trail 

Walk, run, bike, or take your child in a stroller just outside Chicago on the Lakefront Trail. You will walk past some of the city’s parks along the trail and enjoy the beautiful backdrop of downtown Chicago. 

This paved route is easy for travelers. It’s perfect for those looking to take a long run or enjoy a nice bike ride. If you’re visiting Chicago, consider visiting this trail to relax and unwind.

Trail route type: point-to-point 

Length: 17.6 miles

Difficulty: easy

Height Difference: 282 feet

Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park

Matthiessen State Park is located south of Starved Rock Park and is home to one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the area. Lush forests slope down to canyons along the Vermillion River. The trail from Dells to the Vermillion River will give you a little climb hike and some interesting views. 

By the way, white-tailed deer live in the park, so you can meet them there. Please be aware that some parts of the park may close for a while after heavy rains. Matthiessen Park is also a great camping spot if you want to spend a few days exploring the area.

Trail route type: loop trail

Length: 6.4 miles

Difficulty: medium

Height Difference: 564 feet

Waterfall Glen Trail 

Waterfall Glen Trail 

The Waterfall Glen Trail is part of the DuPage County Forest Reserve. It’s an easy trail that covers a large area. The trail is suitable for hiking, long runs, or cycling. It’s especially popular and busy on weekends since it’s located just a 30-minute drive from Chicago. Other short trails depart from the main trail and take you through prairies, waterfalls, and limestone ridges formed during the last Ice Age.

Trail route type: loop trail

Length: 9.3 miles

Difficulty: medium

Height Difference: 396 feet

River Trail, Bluff Trail, and Illinois Canyon Loop 

River Trail, Bluff Trail, and Illinois Canyon Loop 

Situated a 2-hour drive west of Chicago, Starved Rock Park is a wild area and a popular travel spot on the banks of the Illinois River. The park offers 13 miles of trails with waterfalls, stunning rock formations, and equally amazing river views. However, there’s a lot of mud after the rain, so it’s best to walk in dry weather.

Trail route type: loop trail

Length: 6.8 miles

Difficulty: medium

Height Difference: 564feet

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