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Matthiessen State Park

Just to the South-West of Starved Rock State Park, you’ll find Matthiessen State Park. This picturesque stretch of nature takes you from wildflower lined prairie trails to the depths of Ice Age era dells, complete with rushing waterfalls and mossy canyon walls. Matthiessen feels untouched by time, it’s mile-long canyons carved out by centuries of erosion, exposing some fascinating otherworldly geology.

Founded in the tail end of the 19th century by La Salle zinc tycoon Frederick William Matthiessen as a private retreat, it was originally known as Deer Park, earning this name thanks in no small part to its enormous deer population. Even after it’s name change, Matthiessen still remains one of your best chances at spotting some wildlife in LaSalle County.

In Bloom

Matthiessen’s trail system includes options for both novice and experienced hikers, allowing all park patrons to enjoy views of the grand Cascade Falls and the jaw dropping Giants

Bathtub. The trails above the bluffs are graded, relaxed enough for any novice hiker


Horseback Riding

or family. You’ll likely see more than just fellow hikers on these trails, Matthiessen also features some of the best horseback riding paths in the Starved Rock area.

While the two trails that snake through the dells are a bit of a challenge, they also afford adventurous hikers an unmatched view of some geological marvels. Home to several falls, including a large 45-foot drop that separates the upper and lower dells, Matthiessen’s water features are active dependent on how much rain the area has seen. This makes spring an ideal time to explore the park!

Beyond a few sets of stairs to enter the dells and a handful of trails surrounding the brim of the canyon, much of your park exploring will be done by hopping across stepping stones, splashing through shallow creeks, and shuffling along narrow sandstone-lined pathways. With its narrow sandstone canyons and dense tree canopy, Matthiessen feels in many ways like the perfect counterpoint to Starved Rock’s winding trails and steep bluff vistas.