The Best Day Hikes Around Chicago

  |     |   Activities & Recreation

Living in a big city has definite perks. With access to so many restaurants, events, and activities it is easy to forget there is a world outside city limits. Now is the perfect time to go out and take advantage of the beautiful nature around Chicagoland. Here are the best hikes within 2 hours of Lakeshore East.

Lake County Forest Preserves

Lake County Forest Preserves has it all: Over 30,000 acres of forests, meadows, lakes, streams, and all kinds of wildlife. Whether you are looking for fishing, hiking, or just a gorgeous place to have a picnic, this beautiful park can provide a picturesque background for your day. There are even 3 lush green golf courses, so you can hit the links after your nature walk. And it's only an hour's drive from downtown Chicago. 

Starved Rock State Park

For a more adventurous hike, head to Starved Rock State Park. At just under 2 hours drive, this is the farthest site on our list. Here you'll find a stunning display of expansive canyons with cascading waterfalls. Scout out the mysterious caverns and bluffs that make up this amazing park. And after a long day of exploration, head to the lodge for a meal on the veranda. Then you can spend the evening with a cold drink by the massive two-sided stone fireplace, the largest in Illinois!

Waterfall Glen Forest Reserve

Although you've been told for years by TLC not to go chasing waterfalls, let Waterfall Glen Forest Reserve be the exception. Only a half hour drive away you will find the beautiful waterfalls and miles of hiking trails you're looking for to spend a sunny spring day. If you want to build your outdoor survival skills, there is a permanent orienteering course where you can learn to navigate by compass, a skill that might come in handy one day.

Morton Arboretum

Living in a city is great, but sometimes you want to be surrounded less by tall buildings and more by tall trees. For an amazing forest experience, check out Morton Arboretum. Here you'll discover dozens of varieties of trees along gentle walking paths. There are also many gardens to explore, including a fragrance garden filled with aromatic blooms of all kinds and a ground cover garden brimming with colorful flowers and shrubs. Finally, stop by the giant maze garden, with winding, twisting hedges to navigate. Don't worry, there isn't a portkey at the middle of the maze, like in Harry Potter, and you most likely won't come across a frozen Jack Nicholson from The Shining.  But if you do, it's only 40 minutes back to Chicago.

Indiana Dunes

One of the most unique areas of the Midwest is the Indiana Dunes. These massive sand mounds an hour from downtown Chicago provide a coastal feel that will make you swear you are on the shore of the Atlantic. Enjoy kayaking, beach volleyball, hiking, or any number of activities. Poet Carl Sandburg, the mind behind The Hungry Hungry Caterpillar once wrote, "The Indiana Dunes are to the Midwest what the Grand Canyon is to Arizona and Yosemite is to California." 

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