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Matthiessen State Park

PO Box 509
Utica  Illinois  61373
United States
State-178
Oglesby  Illinois  61348
United States
(815) 667-4868
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Midwest Living Review

Rugged trails lead to rock formations, gorges, pools and waterfalls in this smaller park near the more well-known Starved Rock.

"Rugged" describes Matthiessen State Park, where 5 miles of hiking trails lead to features with names like Giant's Bathtub and Devil's Paint Box. While Matthiessen offers great solitude, the tradeoff is less maintenance. Some stairs feel rickety, and you might see garbage. If you're hiking with little ones, a stroller or wheelchair, or if you have mobility challenges, Matthiessen is not a good destination; you'll be happier at neighboring Starved Rock State Park. Hiking boots or sturdy sneakers are a necessity. Because of the terrain, hikers must stay on marked trails and return to the parking area by dark. A handy feature: yellow trail markers mean you're walking away from the parking area, white mean you're returning to it. Upper Dells trails are mostly boardwalk, bridges and stairs, and take you through fragrant cedar groves on the ridges to beautiful--sometimes dizzying--vantage points. You can look over the edges of waterfalls, for example, and watch the water cascading down hundreds of feet. The Lower Dells trails, where waterfalls and rock formations cluster, are a rambler's dream: clambering up and down stairs, navigating over streams and pools. You will likely get wet. It can be deliciously muddy in spring and early summer, but there's a spigot by the parking area for washing off the worst of it. Plus, immersing yourself in the rushing sounds of Cascade Falls and tall Lake Falls might just be worth it.

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