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Matthiessen State Park, Utica

4.7
#5 of 38 in Nature in Illinois
Matthiessen State Park is an Illinois state park located a few miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park. The main entrances to both parks are located on Illinois State Route 178.HistoryThe park is near Oglesby, in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. It is named for Frederick William Matthiessen, who had originally owned the of property that is at the core of the current park. Two mansions, several cottages, a garage, and a private fire station were built here by Matthiessen for his family. It was an estate that hosted a private park known as "Deer Park". The park was donated to Illinois by Matthiessen's heirs, following his death in 1918, and was renamed in his honor in 1943. Since then, land was added, growing the park to. The last building of the former estate was destroyed in 1981, although some of the concrete stairs leading into the canyon are of the original construction.GeologyThe park is centered on a stream that flows from Matthiessen Lake to the Vermilion River. The stream has eroded partway through the sandstone layers, leaving interesting rock formations and drops. The Upper Dells begin at Matthiessen Lake with the Lake Falls, which drop into the canyon below, and continue downstream to the 45ft Cascade Falls where the Lower Dells begin. The interesting coloration of many of the canyons is the result of minerals in the groundwater. Many mineral springs exist throughout the park, providing salt lick spots for the large deer population.
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Matthiessen State Park Reviews
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TripAdvisor Traveler Rating 4.5
387 reviews
Google
4.8
TripAdvisor
  • We especially loved our walk by the Dells area. Path was easier to handle and allowed more viewing rather than struggling whole time to not fall on steps or branches, etc.  more »
  • This park defies description. It is just down the road from the much better known and much more crowded Starved Rock but i sjust as impressive. We pulled into the parkinglot at the dells area and the ...  more »
  • Loved the hiking and exploring. We did one trail each day we were here and were able to adjust what we did based on the person. Some trails were easier than others and we took advantage of all of them...  more »
Google
  • This place was amazing. Bring shoe that can get wet or water proof shoes. You can hike up canyons. They have some stepping stones to cross rivers but not enough. The water falls at the end of the canyons were beautiful. Plenty of stairs to get down into the canyon. Then keep walking and you can find another set of stairs to get out. Definitely with doing.
  • If you're considering Starved Rock and haven't been here, go here. Make sure you hit both the waterfall AND the southern end. My preferred path is taking the UPPER counter clockwise trail...across the waterfall. Then descend into the valley and hang out at the waterfall. Then head south through the valley. Then go to the southern end. If you still have time then go to Starved Rock SP. Start at St Louis canyon since it is right there on IL-178. Otherwise go as far east as you can on IL-71 as you can: Kaskaskia Canyon, Illinois Canyon, Horseshoe Canyon, etc.
  • Nice relaxing hike with nice waterfall views. Really a great place to get lost in nature. Prepare accordingly with footwear because you might get wet on parts of the trail. Matthiessen State Park is a hidden gem in central Illinois that can be visited anytime of year. Packing a light lunch is recommended. I can't stress enough to bring footwear that's waterproof or bringing a 2nd pair of shoes.
  • Great family place or just to get away alone from stresses of the city. Cell phone service was off half the time so it's a great place to go if you'd like to not be bothered by anyone and just enjoy nature.
  • The Upper Dells and Lower Dells trails are great. What you want to do is go down into the canyons because the non-canyon trails are rather boring. The Lower Dells has a large waterfall and a massive canyon whereas the Upper Dells has a smaller stream running through it, but it does have a waterfall close to the lake at the northern end.

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