The Best Day Hike You Can Take With Your Dog In Illinois

River Trail/Bluff Trail
Starved Rock State Park • Utica

As legend has it, during a dust-up between local American Indian tribes in the 18th century one of the warring factions made the ill-fated call to hole up on a 125-foot sandstone bluff on the south side of the Illinois River. The other side laid siege until their trapped enemies died of starvation.

Today a wooden staircase takes Seaman to the top of Starved Rock. Boardwalks protect most of the bluffs from the national park-level visitation that the Illini’s first and most popular park receives. The stars for canine hikers at Starved Rock are the 18 rock-walled box canyons strung out along the river. The fascinating rock formations were left after glacial meltwater washedaway everything but the defiant St. Peter sandstone. Fourteen of the canyons feature waterfalls of varying intensity. If you come in spring when the flows are strongest Virginia bluebells will fill the understory of the forest.

A full tour of Starved Rock’s canyons covers 13.4 miles; more targeted itineraries from the Visitor Center will aim for St. Louis Canyon via the Bluff Trail 1.5 miles to the west and La Salle Canyon two miles down the River Trail to the east, each of which feature reliable water displays in the park.

Trails were cut through the interiorrock canyon floors in spots and expectwet paws, especially when walking behind cataracts of water. And when you finish up be sure to stop at the Veranda for Seaman to make a well-deserved selection off the Doggie Delights Menu.

HIKING TIME: 3-4 hours

(from the book 300 Day Hikes To Take With Your Dog Before He Tires You Out: Trails where you won’t be able to wipe the wag off your dog’s tail)


National Parks with Hiking


Links to National Forests With Hiking

Shawnee National Forest
Midewin National Grassland

State Parks With Hiking


Illinois State Parks
Dogs are welcome in most Illinois state parks except in campground cabins. Dogs are not permitted on the trails in Beall Woods State Park.

Apple River Canyon State Park
Argyle Lake State Park
Beaver Dam State Park
Big River State Forest
Castle Rock State Park
Cave-in-Rock State Park
Chain O'Lakes State Park
Clinton Lake State Recreation Area
Coffeen Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area
Crawford County Conservation Area
Dixon Springs State Park
Donnelley/Depue State Fish and Wildlife Area
Eagle Creek State Park
Edward R. Madigan State Park
Eldon HazletState Park
Ferne Clyffe State Park
Fort Massac State Park
Fox Ridge State Park
Franklin Creek State Park
Giant City State Park
Goose Lake Prairie State Natural Area
Hamilton County Conservation Area
Hennepin Canal Parkway State Park
Hidden Springs State Forest
Horseshoe Lake State Park
Illini State Park
Illinois and Michigan Canal
Illinois Beach State Park
Iroquois County State Fish and Wildlife Area
Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park
Jubilee College State Park
Kankakee River State Park
Kaskaskia River State Fish & Wildlife Area
Kickapoo State Park
Lake Le-Aqua-Na State Park
Lake Murphysboro State Park
Lincoln Trail Homestead State Memorial
Lincoln Trail State Park
Marshall State Fish and Wildlife Area
Matthiessen State Park
Mermet Lake Conservation Area
Mississippi Palisades State Park  
Moraine Hills State Park
Moraine View State Park
Morrison-Rockwood State Park
Nauvoo State Park
Newton Lake State Fish and Wildlife Area
Pere Marquette State Park
Pyramid State Park
Randolph County State Fish and Wildlife Area
Red Hills State Park
Rock Cut State Park
Rock Island Trail State Park
Saline County State Fish & Wildlife Area
Sam Dale Lake Conservation Area
Sam Parr State Park
Sand Ridge State Forest
Sangchris Lake State Park
 Shabbona Lake State Park
Shelbyville State Fish and Wildlife Area
Siloam Springs State Park
Silver Springs State Park
Spitler Woods State Natural Area
Spring Lake Fish & Wildlife Area
Starved Rock State Park
Stephen A. Forbes State Park
Trail of Tears State Forest
Walnut Point State Park
Washington County Conservation Area
Wayne Fitzgerrell State Park
Weinberg-King State Park
Weldon Springs State Park
White Pines Forest State Park


Hiking With Your Dog Illinois