best hikes near me

The last year has inspired even more Chicagoans to explore the great outdoors, looking beyond the urban green space given by the city’s top parks. Fortunately, you don’t have to travel far to enjoy nature—there are plenty of fantastic hiking destinations around Chicago. Cross state lines to see the beautiful Indiana Dunes along Lake Michigan, the ruins of a steelmill in Joliet, or the huge 30-mile Ice Age Trail at Wisconsin’s Kettle Moraine State Forest. Furthermore, some of these paths serve as excellent Chicago bike trails. If you want to get away from the city for a while, If you live in Chicago and searching about the best hikes near me then this post will help you. Now Let’s head to some top hiking trails near Chicago.

1: Indiana Dunes State Park

This National Natural Landmark, located on Indiana’s northwest shore, provides breathtaking views of Lake Michigan. The park has nearly 2,000 acres of shoreline, hiking trails, and, of course, sand dunes. Carl Sandburg, a Chicago native, and poet described the Indiana Dunes as “to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California.” It’s a quick drive or train ride from downtown Chicago, making it an ideal day get away from the city.

2: Starved Rock State Park

Starved Rock, located on the Illinois River’s south bank in LaSalle County, offers 13 miles of well-established trails flowing through 18 gorges with vistas of beautiful waterfalls and rock formations. Year-round guided hikes are offered, or you can explore at your own pace.

3: Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie


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The reintroduction of bison to this 19,000-acre National Forest Service prairie south of Joliet drew new attention in 2015, with visitor numbers increasing for the chance to witness the herd in its natural environment. Midewin features around 22 miles of mixed-use trails shared by hikers, cyclists, and equestrian riders, as well as additional 12 miles of hiker-only paths. Keep an eye out for decommissioned bunkers where the United States Army used to store ammo.

4: Kankakee River State Park


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The Kankakee River has been a prized location for generations, having been populated in the 17th century by the Illini and Miami tribes. The park itself encircles the river for approximately 11 kilometres, totalling 4,000 acres of protected space. It’s a popular destination for fishing, canoeing, hiking, and mushroom hunting, and it has campgrounds with cabins, power, and other amenities.

5: Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve


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This almost 2,500-acre park around Argonne National Labs west of the city in southern DuPage County contains 11 miles of designated paths shared by hikers, cyclists, horseback riders, and, when weather permits, cross-country skiers. The area itself, not the little, man-made waterfall within it, is named after former Forest Preserve District president Seymour Waterfall.

6: Moraine Hills State Park


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Moraine Hills State Park has more than 10 miles of trails that wrap around Lake Defiance and the adjacent woods, making it ideal for casual hikers. This McHenry Park, named after the stones and boulders that were scattered around the area thousands of years ago as a glacier receded, is also a popular spot for sailing and fishing. Take the 3.7-mile Lake Defiance Trail to take in the scenery, or choose one of the shorter routes if you’re short on time.

7: Morton Arboretum


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This nature preserve in west suburban Lisle has a highly complex environment, with over 4,000 cataloged tree and plant species. Discover them on 16 miles of paved and wooded trails. Morton Arboretum is also a popular summer and fall destination for Theatre-Hikes, which provides ambulatory outdoor performances.

8: North Branch Trail


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Get to Gompers Park and you’ll be minutes from the North Branch Trail, which winds north through Nile, Skokie, Morton Grove, and Winnetka forests. It’s a popular cycling path, but walkers are also welcome. You can drive 16 miles to Skokie Lagoons or as far as Morton Grove for pizza at Burt’s Place or Pequod’s.

9: Kettle Moraine State Forest South


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Kettle Moraine State Forest is divided into two portions, one to the north and one to the southwest of Milwaukee. We propose the later of the two options to reduce the distance traveled from Chicago. The Wisconsin State Forest’s Southern Unit is densely packed with paths that wind through pine forests and prairies. There are trails of varying lengths, such as a 1.25-mile walk on the John Muir Trail System or a 30-mile segment of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail if you’re ready for a challenge.

10: Joliet Iron Works Historic Site

Do you want to add some industrial history to your outdoor adventure? The former Joliet Iron and Steel Works is now home to a half-mile trail that allows visitors to walk through the foundations and blast furnaces. You can also head to the 7.5-mile I&M Canal Trail, which follows its eponymous waterway north from Lockport to Romeoville, IL, and is ideal for hiking, jogging, and biking.

11: Lakewood Forest Preserve


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The enormous Lakewood Forest Preserve in adjacent Wauconda, IL, is home to multiple bogs and marshes, as well as a colony of bats that keep the mosquito population in check. Hikers can access the 30-mile Millennium Trail (which travels north through several parks, woodlands, and preserves) as well as a section of the six-mile Fort Hill Trail, which connects the Lakewood and Ray Lake forest preserves.

12: Glacial Park Conservation Area


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You can credit the glaciers that inspired the park’s name for a couple of hills that hikers can summit for some spectacular views of the surrounding area. The rest of the five-mile Glacial Park walk isn’t particularly difficult, but there are some interesting vistas along the way, such as an oak savanna and bogs.

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