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5 Places to View Fall Colors at Starved Rock State Park

Updated: Oct 15, 2023

The ultimate fall colors viewing guide for Starved Rock.

Fall is one of the most beautiful times at the park. Along the trails there are leaves falling as you hike and from the overlooks there are colors bursting as far as the eye can see. While we recommend exploring the entire park to experience all that fall offers, we’ve put together the ultimate fall colors viewing guide for those planning a trip to Starved Rock during the Fall season. Here are our top 5 places (in no particular order) to view the Fall colors:

River Trail Intersection near the stone bridge on the way to LaSalle Canyon
River Trail Intersection near the stone bridge on the way to LaSalle Canyon

 
BEFORE YOU VISIT


Wooden bridge on interior trail near LaSalle Canyon
Wooden bridge on interior trail near LaSalle Canyon

Before you visit, make sure to check the current status of the Fall colors at the park by visitingour park dashboard. As of October 15th 2023, the region is in the 'patchy’ color phase!


The fall colors at the park may arrive a little later than usual this year. We are seeing some trees begin the process of turning colors. Different species of trees will change color sooner along with other factors such as location and stresses on the trees. As of October 15th, 2023, we believe colors will peak around the last week of October.


In addition, you can view all the hikes below on our 'Find a Hike' webpage, with detailed information about each hike!

 

1. STARVED ROCK

Starved Rock along the Illinois River
Starved Rock along the Illinois River

Less than a mile from the visitor’s center, this is one of the most trekked trails in the whole

park. Starved Rock sits roughly 125 feet above the Illinois River and was named a National Historic Landmark in 1960. This hike takes about 30 minutes and includes 65 stairs up to the rock. Once at the top, visitors can walk around the whole rock for a 360 degree view of the fall colors throughout the park. This overlook also provides the best view of Lover’s Leap Overlook, which sits directly across from the rock on the same side of the river.

 
2. LOVER’S LEAP OVERLOOK

Also less than a mile from the visitors center, this overlook provides some of the best views of the rock itself. It’s also one of the best places to see the fall colors nestled in and around the rock itself. The majority of this trail is on a boardwalk and there is only 1 long staircase along the way. This hike can be completed in about 45 minutes.

 
3. EAGLE CLIFF OVERLOOK
Eagle Cliff Overlook along the Illinois River

Just about a mile from the visitors center, this overlook boasts the best views of the Illinois River. The sun rises directly above the Illinois River, so this overlook is especially magical during sunrise. The majority of this trail is also on a boardwalk and involves 1 long staircase. Hence its name, bald eagles are quite common at this overlook as well as many other sights such as pelicans, ducks, herons, and more.

 
4. HENNEPIN CANYON TRAIL

Hennepin Canyon Trail

Towards the east end of the park, this less popular river trail can be one of the most scenic when leaves are falling. This is one of the most remote areas of the entire park, where you can often hear (and see) the leaves falling from trees to the ground. The trail is roughly 3 miles from the visitors center and can also be accessed via a gravel parking lot along Route 71, which makes for a much shorter hike. Hikers trek through woodlands and along the Illinois River with even a few lookouts along the way!

 
5. ILLINOIS CANYON TRAIL

One of the widest canyons in the park, the Illinois Canyon trail is a great place to witness the leaves falling as you hike. While it’s the furthest trail from the visitors center at 4.6 miles away it can be accessed via a parking lot of Route 71, condensing the hike to roughly 1 mile round trip. The sun shining down through the canyon makes this hike one of our favorites to do on a sunny fall day.

 

As a reminder, we are asking every person who hikes to a waterfall to submit a waterfall flow rate report on our website at starvedrockhikers.com/waterfall-report. This takes less than 60 seconds and can be completed for all the major waterfalls within Starved Rock State Park. You can also attach photos/video clips of the waterfall.

Don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag #starvedrockhikers when sharing all of your Fall hiking adventures! We’ll also do our best to keep hikers informed via our Hikers group on Facebook. Click here to join for free! See you on the trail.







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Every time you purchase a product from Starved Rock Hikers, you are also helping the park. A portion of our annual proceeds are donated to the Starved Rock Foundation, a nonprofit organization that supports Starved Rock & Matthiessen through educational programs, guided hikes, exhibit updates, and more.

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