12/5/21 Starved Park is a great state park just an hour and half outside of Chicago, IL. Proof yet again that the amazing outdoors can still be found not far from the urban sprawl.
1 It was a cold, wet day in Chicago and I was debating whether I wanted to venture out in the freezing rain to try to find some trail. After a slow morning start, I decided to head out to Starved Rock State Park about 90min West of Chicago. Before hitting the trail, I checked out the Visitor Center, which had some nice displays.
2 I'm surprised this one is still allowed.
3 A nice model of Starved Rock and the outpost that once stood atop it.
4 A look at the Starved Rock Lock and Dam from the top of Starved Rock. This is part of a series of seven locks that connect Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.
5 The memorial on top of Starved Rock. Fortunately the rain had stopped just as I got on the trail. But it was still cold and wet enough to keep the trails, which are a popular tourist area, nearly empty.
6 The stairs and pathways up and down the bluffs throughout the park are amazing. It's no surprise that much of the original work in the park was done by the CCC. They started in 1933 and evidently were paid only $30/mo for their work!
7 A closer look at the lock. It would have been cool to see a ship being dropped down between levels.
8 The view down the Illinois River from the Lover's Leap Overlook.
9 Panaroma of the Illinois.
10 More beautiful woodsy area and intricate stairways.
11 Starved Rock State Park has a dozen or more impressive waterfalls flowing over sandstone cliffs right on the banks of the Illinois River. The 75ft Wildcat Canyon Falls is the first that I come to. Unfortunately, most of the falls are nearly dry this time of year. But you can imagine how they would look with more water flowing.
12 A short video of Wildcat Canyon Falls.
13 What would normally be another waterfall in Basswood Canyon is just a wet streak today.
14 The trail is now down right at water level following the banks of the Illinois River.
15 I can't get enough of the bridges and walkways, they are incredibly picturesque.
16 One of the larger streams emptying into the Illinois.
17 I'm getting short on time, but I decide to try to make it out to Tonti and La Salle canyons, and I'm glad I did! In the upper left, you can see the trail heading up Tonti Canyon. It was unfortunately closed, but thankfully La Salle was still open.
18 Heading into La Salle Canyon. The sandstone walls are amazing.
19 Made it to La Salle waterfall. The stream flows straight off a sandstone shelf, and the trail actually goes right behind the waterfall!
20 Approaching the falls. I would love to see this at full water flow.
21 The view from behind the falls!
22 A short video from behind the falls.
23 And now out the other side.
24 La Salle Canyon Falls.
25 Looking down La Salle Canyon. Entirely different than my Rocky Mountain NP trip a few days ago, but this spot also ranks pretty high up my all-time favorite list.
26 Heading back now, I decide to take the trail along the top of the bluffs. You can really accumulate some gain on these stairs!
27 Looking down one of the small canyons carved out of the sandstone. You can see a trail bridge below and then the Illinois River just past it.
28 A look at Wildcat Canyon Falls from above. I was at the base of those falls earlier in the day.
29 More elaborate walkways as I head towards my last waterfall for the day at French Canyon.
30 French Canyon Falls. Little more than a wet streak today, but a very cool canyon nonetheless.
31 I'm running out of daylight, and the parking lot closes at dusk, but i can't resist the urge to scramble up French Canyon.
32 Made it to the wet streak that is French Canyon Falls.
33 Heading out of French Canyon. I made it back to the car just before complete darkness. It started raining again just as I was leaving. Perfect timing and a perfect day. I wonder how many people live in Chicago and have never made it out here!?