Adventuring in Illinois
I know that I have not published my official Chicago bucket list yet (next week) but I'm already checking off the items because this has been on my list for years. About an hour and forty minute drive from Chicago lies Starved Rock State Park in Utica, Illinois. Illinois is flat, I think we all know this, but there are some bluffs, cliffs, and canyons at Starved Rock! I remember the first time I saw photos, I didn't believe it was actually in Illinois.
Though it isn't a large park there are nice trails that are well-maintained and not filled with roots and rocks. But, there are a lot of steep stairways which connect the canyon trails. My friend and I had to walk up the one major staircase twice because we had to backtrack to get to the waterfall and I do think that someone who is not used to walking or has a heart condition might not be able to do all of the stairs. I believe you could avoid them and just end up walking longer. There are a lot of benches and good resting spots at scenic viewpoints and along the stairways.
In addition to all of these wonderful, shaded trails, there are picnic areas, a full restaurant in the lodge, and a gift shop, toilet facilities, and places to refill your water bottles. I've always heard the park is a madhouse on summer weekends, thus we went mid-week. It was still fairly busy, but I can imagine it is crazy on the weekends. Dogs are allowed on the trails if they're leashed. To be perfectly honest, I'm not sure it would be the best place for little dogs in hot weather.
One bucket list item checked off. :)