6 - 10 hr
About the Hike:
If you want to be sure you see it all, this is the hike for you! Starved Rock is home to some of the most beautiful locations in the Midwest with canyons, waterfalls, rock formations, and more. Only a small percentage of people see everything at the Park, and even a smaller percentage complete this ‘mega hike’. This is the highest hiking accomplishment at Starved Rock.
Have you completed this hike? Send us a note on our Newsroom page and you’ll be added to our ‘Mega-Hiker’ list!
Park in St. Louis Parking area (mini lot) off of Rt. 178, across from Grand Bear Resort. Enter by walking past the gate and start the hike on the paved trail. After heading down a few staircases, there will be a split in the path. Go right and proceed to the canyon. When you exit the Canyon (same way you entered), take the stairs upward on your right hand side. Do not cross the wooden bridge and head back to the St. Louis Canyon parking lot. Continue along this bluff trail where you will cross a bridge above the road and then arrive at the Lodge. Feel free to grab a cup of coffee at the Starved Rock Lodge cafe, as there’s a lot of hiking left to do!
After the Lodge, head down the metal stairs near the outdoor seating area on the Lodge veranda. Once at the bottom of the staircase, you can stop at the Starved Rock Visitor Center or head straight across the path to Starved Rock. Follow the concrete path up a few staircases to the top of the rock itself. The boardwalk on top of the rock is a full loop, so you can hike all the way around the rock. Then, continue down the staircases and go East, where you will head into French Canyon.
After French Canyon, leave on the bottom trail and cross the bridge (staying left). Make sure to stay left throughout the hike, so you are near the river. This will take you to Lover’s Leap, and hiking past Lovers Leap will lead to Eagle Cliff Overlook. Lastly, take the staircase down by Eagle Cliff and continue along the trail near the river where you will pass Beehive Overlook on your way to Wildcat Canyon. Once you cross the red bridge, you can take the first right and head into Wildcat Canyon.
After Wildcat, we recommend going up the longest staircase in the park (yes, it’s good exercise!), and going left once at the top. Now that you’re on the bluff trail, you’ll go past Sandstone Point Overlook, and eventually come to a set of stairs where you can proceed down. Once at the bottom of the staircase, go right and head to LaSalle Canyon. Once you cross the stone bridge, take a right turn and head back into LaSalle Canyon.
Exit LaSalle Canyon the same way you entered, but this time do not cross the stone bridge and continue to walk along the river (heading East). Once you come to a staircase, head up until you come to the trail map, where you can then go left (heading East), and head towards Hennepin Canyon. You will be able to walk across the top and around Hennepin Canyon, and there is a dedicated river overlook along the way. Stay close to the river and keep heading East. Eventually, you will reach a set of stairs, and after descending down you will come to Route 71 (the main road of the park). Use EXTREME CAUTION when crossing the roadway. After crossing, continue along the trail and proceed towards the Council Overhang area. You can head into Ottawa Canyon which is right next to Council Overhang, or venture a little farther East to reach Kaskaskia Canyon. Once you have seen Kaskaskia Canyon, you must return to the Council Overhang area parking lot to catch the interconnecting trail to Illinois Canyon. The Council Overhang parking lot can be reached by heading back to Council Overhang, and then across the wooden bridge. Once in the parking lot, you can head to the East end where there is a small path to the Illinois Canyon parking lot. The trailhead to Illinois Canyon is on the East end of the parking lot. This is an out and back trail with a few off-shoots.
Once you return to the Illinois Canyon parking lot, you are halfway done with the hike! Now, you just return to the St. Louis Canyon parking lot, on the far opposite end of the park. We recommend taking the same way back, or having a friend pick you up in the Illinois Canyon lot.
All-day, strenuous hike featuring lots of staircases and many terrain changes. The most difficult hike in the park. Only experienced hikers should attempt this hike with plenty of water, food, and other safety items.