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If travelers hear the words “beautiful landscape” and immediately think about towering canyons, cliffs, and waterfalls, then perhaps it is time for them to check out Starved Rock. Located in Illinois, Starved Rock State Park is situated along the Illinois river and is full of cliffs, bluffs, and accompanying waterfalls.

For travelers wishing to visit this state park, it is actually quite easy to get to. It is also a way to spend a couple of days as most of the park can be hiked in about eight hours. That being said, here is a look at how long to hike Starved Rock and what to know about the park.


About the Starved Rock Hike And Other Trails

Famous for its bluffs and canyons, Starved Rock State Parl in Illinois is a go-to location for nature lovers and hikers. With its 13 miles of maintained and marked hiking trails, hikers can look forward to a worry-free and memorable experience. Trail maps dot the trails, especially at intersections, too to keep travelers on track and aware of where they are on the trails. The trails even make use of a dot system. Yellow dots mean hikers are moving away from the lodge or visitor center, and the white dots show that hikers are returning.

Obviously, the safety of the trails isn’t the only draw to Starved rock. With its numerous named mark trails that traverse across 13 miles, there are stunning views and vistas of and from the cliffs and bluffs that make this area famous. With trails open all year round, it is no wonder this destination has become so popular.

In total, if travelers are able to invest about eight hours hiking the park, they will likely be able to see all of it. However, it is recommended that travelers enjoy the park over a couple of days.

  • Dogs - allowed if on a leash; please keep dogs hydrated and clean up after them.

Starved Rock and Sandstone Point Overlook Trail

One of the more popular loops, this trail takes hikers on a 4.3-mile loop that includes a stunning view from Sandstone Point Overlook. Hikers should expect to spend around an hour and a half on this trail. It is quite popular for birding and camping too, so it is likely that other hikers will be encountered.

  • Length - 1.5 hours
  • Difficulty - Moderate

Related: The Catskills Is Home To A State Park & Here's What You Can Do There

Aurora, Sac, Kickapoo, and St. Louis Canyons

This three-mile journey will take hikers from the Visitor Center via the bluff trail through three stunning local canyons named Aurora, Kickapoo, and Sac. These three canyons are just part of the trip to reach St. Louis Canyon, the ultimate goal.

  • Length - 2 hours
  • Difficulty - Easy/Moderate

Canyons (St. Louis, French, Wildcat, and LaSalle)

This hike is for canyon and waterfall lovers. Hikers will have the chance to experience St. Louis, French, Wildcat, and LaSalle Canyon. Each location is unique while also offering travelers a chance to experience its waterfalls.

  • Length - 3 - 5 hours
  • Difficulty - Difficult

Council Overhang, Ottawa and Kaskaskia Canyons

This hike offers travelers a chance to experience quite a bit in a short time. Just one mile long, this hike takes travelers to see Council Overhang, a massive sandstone cavern. It was once used for meetings held by the Native Americans that used to live here.

  • Length - 1 hour
  • Difficulty - Easy/Moderate

French and Wildcat Canyons, Overlooks

This hike takes travelers past two of the park's most iconic canyons, French and Wildcat, to Eagle Cliff and Lovers Leap Overlooks for some of the best views in the park. This hike will usually take about 2 hours to complete.

  • Length - 1.5 - 2 hours
  • Difficulty - Moderate
  • Must-See - French Canyon’s 45-ft tall waterfall and Wildcat’s 90-ft waterfall.

Related: No Swimming At Blackwater Falls State Park, But The View Is Amazing

Hennepin Canyon Overlook

This short hike allows travelers to enjoy a bit of peace in the summer. As hiking down to Hennepin Canyon is currently unavailable, this hike allows travelers to hike above and take in its beauty from above.

  • Length - 1 hour
  • Difficulty - Moderate

What Travelers Will See At Starved Rock

Those arriving at Starved Rock State Park will have much to look forward to. With such a variety of canyons and bluffs, travelers will have a magical landscape to explore, topped off by towering waterfalls cascading off the canyons.


The home to the waterfalls of LaSalle, St. Louis, French Canyon, and other stunning falls, Travelers seeking vistas of waterfalls will not be disappointed. With some falls reaching heights of 90-ft, there is a lot for travelers to take in during a visit here.

Sandstone Canyons

The stunning sandstone cliffs of Starved Rock State Park are a testament to millions of years of erosion and the natural phenomena that created them. The beauty of the cliffs is evident to all who can see them. Their colorful rocks, in reality, have a rich history and offer a look into the past as well as the chance to appreciate the present.

How To Get To Starved Rock

The first travelers will need to know is how to reach Starved Rock State Park. Likely, travelers will first want to stop in at Starved Rock Lodge as it is the only accommodation within the park. Even if travelers aren’t planning on staying there, it is useful to use their address when navigating to the park.

From the East (via Ottawa)

  • I-80 W to IL Rt. 23 S (exit 90) to IL Rt. 71 W
  • From the East (Bypassing IL Rt. 178 at Utica):
  • Continue on I-80 W to I-39 S (Exit 79A) to IL 71 E

From the East (via Oglesby)

  • Continue on I-80 W to I-39 S to Oglesby (Exit 54)
  • Turn south onto West Walnut Street.
  • Proceed to North Columbia Ave. / IL-351N/IL-71E, turn north
  • Turn right onto IL-71E

From the West

  • Take I-80 E to IL-351 S to IL-71 E.
  • From the North:
  • I-39 S to Oglesby (Exit 54). Turn south onto West Walnut Street.

Proceed to North Columbia Ave. / IL-351N/IL-71E, and turn north.

  • Turn right onto IL-71E
  • Take IL-71E for 1.2 mi. to the park entrance
  • From the South:
  • Take I-39 N toward Tonica (Exit 48).
  • Take N2101st Road / IL-178 to the park entrance