Illinois may not be the first state that comes to mind when you think of hiking trails, but it has a lot to offer for outdoor enthusiasts. With various terrains and levels of difficulty, Illinois has something for everyone. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or someone looking to try something new, you’ll find the right hiking trail in Illinois.
Moreover, if you’re a pet owner, you’ll be delighted to know that Illinois has several dog-friendly hiking trails. You can take your furry friend along and explore the state’s beautiful outdoors together. However, it’s essential to ensure that your dog is leashed at all times to keep them and others safe.
Here are ten of the best dog-friendly hiking trails in Illinois that you and your pup can explore.
1. Allerton Park & Retreat Center
Located in Monticello, Allerton Park & Retreat Center is a 1,500-acre property boasting of forests, gardens, prairies, and multiple hiking trails. The park has easy, flat trails with unique sculptures and gardens, making it an ideal destination for families with children. Additionally, Allerton Park hosts numerous events year-round, making it a perfect spot for outdoor activities.
2. Ferne Clyffe State Park
Ferne Clyffe State Park is known for its unique plant communities, including numerous ferns. The park features 18 different trails, offering amazing views of rock formations. Spring and fall are the most colorful seasons, making them the best time to visit. Ferne Clyffe has many different campsites to choose from as well.
3. Giant City State Park
Located within the Shawnee National Forest, Giant City State Park is a popular dog-friendly hiking trail known for its massive sandstone structures. However, be mindful of any horses on the equestrian-friendly trails and make way for them to pass safely.
4. Matthiessen State Park
Matthiessen State Park is located in Oglesby, and it has five miles of trails with varying difficulty. Trails leading to the interiors of the two dells can be difficult to navigate in spring and early summer. Also, remember that swimming, rock climbing, and metal detecting are not allowed, and violation fines begin at $195.
5. Rim Rock National Recreational Trail
The Rim Rock National Recreational Trail is a hiker-only trail that only allows leashed pets. Some parts of the trails may be blocked due to weather, so make sure to check the website for the latest updates.
6. Rock Cut State Park
Rock Cut State Park, located in Caledonia, spans over 3,000 acres and has two lakes. It’s a popular location for horseback riding, cross-country skiing, and fishing. However, beware of wildlife, including deer, foxes, opossums, and raccoons.
7. Schiller Woods
Located in the Chicago suburbs, Schiller Woods is a convenient spot for a quick adventure. Deer and ticks roam here, so make sure to check your pup for ticks before leaving. While fishing is allowed in the pond, no swimming is allowed.
8. Shawnee National Forest
Shawnee National Forest covers over 289,000 acres of forests, canyons, wetlands, and razorback ridges. It has multiple trails with varying levels of difficulty. Moreover, many lodging sites in the surrounding area are dog-friendly for those who want to make a weekend trip out of their hike.
9. Starved Rock National Park
Starved Rock National Park, located in Oglesby, boasts of canyons, waterfalls, and other scenic views along the way. While it can get very crowded during the summer months, it’s an excellent location for families with young children. Additionally, activity permits are required for groups of 20 or more.
10. West Street Sculpture Park
West Street Sculpture Park in Galena is a unique hiking trail where you and your furry friend can enjoy sculptures, statues, and other art installations. The park is open year-round and has no entrance fee, so you can enjoy a beautiful walk any time of the year.
Hiking is an excellent way to exercise and have bonding time with your furry friend. Luckily, Illinois has a plethora of scenic hiking trails for pups and their owners to explore. However, following hiking trail rules will ensure that dogs continue to be allowed on-site and enjoy many outdoor adventures with their families. Remember that even the friendliest dogs must be leashed to protect them and other trail users from harm. Enjoy the trails!