Local Hiking Trails

Explore the world around you. You don’t have to go far to find adventure.

Homer Lake, Illinois

Travel time from campus: 25-minutes

Homer Lake

Wildlife and natural beauty abound in the 814 acres at Homer Lake Forest Preserve near Homer, Illinois. From sledding when the snow falls to fishing and boating in the summer months, Homer Lake is a beautiful setting for visitors to get away for some relaxation.

Kickapoo State Recreation Area, Illinois

Travel time from campus: 40-minutes

Kickapoo State Park

Once a turn-of-the-century surface mining operation, Kickapoo State Recreation Area’s 2,842 acres now provide an outdoor playground with something to appeal to everyone. Twenty two deep-water ponds, ranging in size from 0.2 to 57 acres, provide a total of 221 acres of water for boaters, canoeists and anglers. Lushly forested uplands and bottomlands along the Middle Fork of the Vermilion River is habitat for birds, wildlife and wildflowers, while nature trails and running trails provide pathways to inspiration and physical fitness.

Turkey Run State Park, Indiana

Travel time from campus: 1-hour and 13-minutes

Turkey Run State Park

Explore it and see how Indiana was shaped by ancient forces. Many old growth trees exist in the park. A walk into one of the ravines takes you on a trip through time, for the sandstone gorges represent 600 to 300 million years of nature’s handiwork. Beautiful Turkey Run State Park has something for everyone to enjoy: hiking trails, camp sites, horseback riding, historic sites and a nature center.

Starved Rock State Park

Travel time from campus: 1-hour and 40-minutes

Shawnee National Forest

Starved Rock State Park on the Illinois River bluff in La Salle County is one of Illinois’​ most beautiful destinations.  The park’s 18 canyons feature vertical walls of moss-covered stone formed by glacial meltwater that slice dramatically through tree-covered sandstone bluffs.  More than 13 miles of trails allow access to waterfalls, fed season runoff or natural springs, sandstone overhangs, and spectacular overlooks.  Lush vegetation supports abundant wildlife, while oak, cedar and pine grow on drier, sandy bluff tops. 

Shawnee National Forest, Illinois

Travel time from campus: 3-hours

Jackson Falls

In the southern tip of Illinois lies the rolling Shawnee Hills where 289,000 acres await you to relax, unwind and explore the Shawnee National Forest. Here you will find vast forests, wetlands and rugged bluffs home to a variety of plants and animals. The natural beauty of the area is ideal for all types of outdoor recreation.

Jackson Falls, Illinois

Travel time from campus: 3-hours and 30-minutes

Devil's Lake State Park

Located near the town of Ozark in the Shawnee National Forest, Jackson Falls offers arguably the best rock climbing in southern Illinois. There are roughly 60 climbing areas along the sandstone bluffs and freestanding boulders, each with multiple named routes on them. There are over 500 named routes in all. Most of the routes are 50-60 feet in height. The whole area sits in a very scenic glen. Most of the routes at Jackson Falls are sport routes, though there are a number of traditional routes, and a few areas suitable for setting up a top-rope. There are also many excellent bouldering opportunities here.

Devil’s Lake, Wisconsin

Travel time from campus: 4-hours and 10-minutes

Red River Gorge

Devil’s Lake State Park is located in Baraboo, Wisconsin, and is Wisconsin’s most popular state park with about 3 million visitors per year. The over 9,000-acre park anchors more than 27,000 acres of parkland and natural areas open to public recreation in Sauk County.

Red River Gorge, Kentucky

Travel time from campus: 5-hours and 15-minutes

Red River Gorge

In east-central Kentucky, the Red River Gorge sits tucked away inside the expansive Daniel Boone National Forest. The historic Red River cuts through the gorge, and over millions of years carved the over 150 sandstone arches within the geological area’s 29,000 acres. This is the only area east of the Rocky Mountains that boast as many freestanding arches, in addition to a mix of rock shelters, jagged cliffs, natural forming bridges and waterfalls.