Chasing Waterfalls: Hiking To The Waterfalls Of Matthiessen State Park


Matthiessen State Park is one of the hidden gems of Illinois offering visitors a chance to escape the hustle and bustle of city life and immerse themselves in nature. The park features dells, bluffs, canyons, prairie and waterfalls that can take visitors to a different world. In this article, we will explore the various waterfalls that one can reach through hiking at the Matthiessen State Park.

Why Hike To Matthiessen State Park?

Matthiessen State Park offers a great getaway from the busy urban life. The park has over 5 miles of hiking trails, and the waterfalls located here are some of the most stunning in the region. The park is considered one of the most beautiful state parks in Illinois, and its hiking trails offer visitors unique and breathtaking views of the waterfalls, canyons, and wooded areas.

What to expect

Matthiessen State Park covers an area of around 1700 acres and has five trail systems. Each trail system is color-coded and offers visitors a unique set of experiences. The park’s waterfalls are located primarily in the Dells Area and the Vermilion River Area. Visitors can expect steep climbs, narrow trails, and stunning natural landscapes that are ideal for avid hikers and sightseers alike.

Waterfalls To Visit

Cascade Falls

Cascade Falls is perhaps the most popular waterfall in the park. The waterfall is located in the Dells Area of the park and plunges over 25 feet into an oval-shaped pool. The trail leading to the falls is about 0.4 miles long, and visitors can expect steep and rocky terrain. Along the way, visitors will see a small cave behind the falls, offering them a unique perspective of the waterfall.

Lake Falls

Lake Falls is located in the Dells Area and is a 20-feet-high waterfall that cascades into a small pool. The trail leading to the Lake Falls is approximately 0.5 miles long, and hikers can expect a steep descent. Visitors can also expect to see beautiful rock formations and views of the Vermilion River on their way to the falls.

Matthiessen Falls

Matthiessen Falls is located in the Vermilion River Area, and its 25-feet-tall waterfall is surrounded by sandstone walls that are covered in green vegetation. This waterfall is unique in that it can be viewed from both the top and bottom. The trail leading to the falls is around 0.8 miles long, and visitors can expect steep climbs and switchbacks with beautiful views of the river.

Trail Difficulty

The trail to the Cascade Falls is the easiest among the three waterfalls mentioned, and it is ideal for beginners. The trail is about 0.4 miles long and is rated as moderate. While hiking to Lake Falls requires a more advanced level of hiking experience, the trail is only 0.5 miles long. The hike to Matthiessen Falls is the longest, with a distance of around 0.8 miles and is rated as difficult.

What To Bring

Visitors are advised to wear sturdy hiking shoes, as the trails can be steep and slippery. It is also recommended to bring sunscreen, insect repellent, snacks, and plenty of water to avoid dehydration.


Matthiessen State Park offers some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Illinois, and hiking to these waterfalls is an adventure that is not to be missed. The park’s varied trails offer visitors unique and stunning views of the waterfalls, bluffs, canyons, and prairie. The park is also home to an abundance of wildlife and plant species, adding to the natural ambiance of the park. Take the time to explore the park’s waterfalls on foot, and you will surely fall in love with the stunning natural beauty of Matthiessen State Park.

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