Our Favorite Hiking Near Chicago

19 June 2020

Indiana Dunes State Park
Indiana Dunes State Park


The sun is shining, the flowers are bloomingsummer is finally here, Chicago. Though it won’t be a typical summer in the city, ongoing safety recommendations have inspired us to get creative, and find new ways to Seek Beauty, to stay entertained and to engage with our surroundings. One of our recent favorite activities? Finding an outdoor getaway for the day. Here are just a few of our favorite hiking spots near Chicago, where you can soak up the sun and enjoy a reprieve in nature.


North Park Village Center

A little known gem tucked away on Chicago’s far north side, North Park Village Center is a 46-acre nature preserve. Hiking trails wind through savanna, wetland prairie and woodland naturescapes, where wildlife is abundant and people most definitely are not. If you’re lucky, you might spot a snapping turtle or heron—or even a group of deer, quietly roaming through the surrounding 158-acre North Park Village campus.


Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve

Less than an hour’s drive from the city, you can reach Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve. The name is almost a dead giveaway for what you might find there—a gentle waterfall (actually a dam, but for all intents and purposes and our own sense of wonder, we consider it a waterfall). The waterfall is surrounded by miles of hiking trails through savanna, prairies and shaded, oak-maple woodlands, perfect for a day getaway.


Indiana Dunes State Park

It’s not cheating per se, but while Chicago’s lakefront is closed, you can escape across the border to Indiana and visit Lake Michigan at Indiana Dunes State Park. Proudly nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Midwest” by Carl Sandburg, the park is the perfect place for hiking (of course) but also to run down a sandy dune or skip a stone on the lakefront. For those that would rather go it by car than by foot, it’s also the perfect place for a scenic drive.


The Morton Arboretum 

The Morton Arboretum is a woodland oasis tucked modestly away in Chicago’s north suburbs. 16 miles of paved and wood chipped trails boast over 4,000 catalogued species of trees and plants. The Arboretum is also the only place near Chicago (that we know of) where you can go troll hunting. Danish artist Thomas Dambo created a series of wooden troll sculptures, some standing at 30-feet tall, that are scattered throughout the park to be discovered and enjoyed.