Matthiessen State Park, IL
Matthiessen State Park is the little brother of the more well known nearby Starved Rock State Park. Unlike Starved Rock, Matthiessen does not boast a restaurant, hotel, or museum but what it does have is an amazing array of natural wonders that, though smaller in scale, rivals anything Starved Rock has to offer. Also, at least the day I visited, there were only a handful of cars in the parking lot as compared to the dozens that we found later in the day at Starved Rock.
The dells area, where we stopped to explore, is the most scenic part of the park. The trails that wind their way through the dells wander in many different directions. We generally followed a figure-eight through the lower dells and then the upper hitting the couple of major waterfalls and spending a good deal of time down on the floor of the gorge itself. Even so, I could have spent much more time here...
Trailhead GPS Coordinates: 41.296345, -89.024955
Mileage Hiked: 1.5 miles
Trailhead Temp: 80'F
Min. Elevation: 480'
Max Elevation: 600'
Trails Used: Lower Dells, Upper, Upper Dells