Matthiessen State Park Loop
ElevationAscent: 164' 50 m
Descent: -168' -51 m
High: 678' 207 m
Low: 575' 175 m
GradeAvg Grade: 2% (1°)
Max Grade: 12% (7°)
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“A delightful loop that travels around and through the canyons of Matthiessen State Park.”— Eric Ashley
Follow the stairs down to the canyon bottom and get ready for something a little different. The Interior Canyon Trail makes use of stairs, rock hopping, and bench-cut trails throughout its short length as it travels to the top of the Upper Dell. When you're not busy figuring how best to get from point A to B, the canyon provides a wonderful array of waterfalls, crevices, and pools to fawn over. Note that when water levels are higher, it's unlikely you'll make it through with dry shoes. Look for the stairs near the base of Falls Lake.
Once on top, head right on the Bluff Trail for a top-down look at the waterfalls as they drain from the lake. The perspective from the large concrete bridge is pretty unique at any time, but best when the water is flowing strongly. Follow the Bluff Trail for a gentle climb and descent around the Upper Glen to return to the Entrance Stairs Connector.
Head over the middle bridge again, but this time turn left, following the Bluff Trail down around the Lower Glen and eventually descending a long set of wooden stairs. Enjoy a bird's-eye view from the lower bridge and then head down the Interior Canyon Trail on the other side.
A cement staircase soon spirals runners down to the bottom of a wide canyon. Again, depending on water levels, it may be difficult to keep your feet dry. Head north to the end of the canyon to a point where Cascade Falls are nicely framed by the middle bridge. When ready, return up the concrete stairs.
The last portion of the run follows the Bluff Trail past the Bluff Trail Extension to return to the Entrance Stairs for a final climb back to the parking area.
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Land Manager: Illinois DNR - Region I
Feb 3, 2020: Illinois-DNR-Newsbits-for-February-2020