When you think of the state of Illinois in the Midwestern part of the US you imagine corn fields, flat landscapes that go on for miles and of course the city of Chicago. What you didn’t think you would find just two hours outside of Chicago is a state park with steep inclines, sandstone canyons and tall trees – Starved Rock State Park. Last weekend a group of my friends and I spent the day hiking and exploring the many canyons in Starved Rock. Hiking through the park you would think you are a world away from the flat land of Illinois.
|(Illinois River towards the east)|
Our hike began with incredible views from Lovers Leap lookout towards the Illinois River and the various canyons along the riverbank. These canyons were carved out by glacial meltwater coming from glaciers that have receded with time. After seeing the main viewing points we made the ascent to the paths that would lead us to each canyon. Even though it was already autumn the day was humid and warm, among the trees there was no breeze and it felt like a hot summer day. I can’t complain because I know the cold temperatures are quickly approaching so I enjoyed the warm weather.
|(Left: Waterfall at Wildcat Canyon; Right: Backside of waterfall at LaSalle Canyon)|
Wildcat Canyon was the first canyon we hiked to that had a large waterfall. The cool water was refreshing after hiking through the humid woods so we stayed for a while, taking in the sight. We continued our hike to the Basswood Canyon and relaxed again in the shade before we hiked the final stretch to LaSalle Canyon. Each canyon we hiked to was unique in it’s own way but the most beautiful in my opinion was LaSalle Canyon (see photos).
|(One of the many stairs we had to climb)|
The hike back was not as treacherous as we thought it would be and once out of the park we enjoyed a picnic of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I thought the paths in the state park would be an easy stroll but to my pleasant surprise we spent the day climbing up steeps stairs, crossing over a stream where the bridge was under construction, and enjoying the company of friends. The park had more to offer than I thought and I am happy we planned a trip to the park. Illinois has so many sights and places to offer outside of the Chicago and I hope to get a chance to see more of the state.
x the Adventurer