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Hiking in the Cold and Snow

How to enjoy a hike at Starved Rock State Park in the midst of winter.
St. Louis Canyon

If you're an avid hiker, you know there's no such thing as "bad weather" – only bad gear/preparation. And if you're looking for a challenging and rewarding winter hike, look no further than Starved Rock State Park, located in the heart of the Midwest in Central Illinois. With over 13 miles of trails winding through stunning sandstone canyons, waterfalls, and forests, there's no shortage of breathtaking views and natural wonders to discover - especially in the beauty of winter.

But while the warmer months may be the most popular time to visit, winter can actually be one of the most magical times to hike at Starved Rock. The park is blanketed in snow, transforming the landscape into a winter wonderland. And if you're prepared for the cold, it can be a truly unforgettable experience.

So what do you need to know before hiking the trails at Starved Rock in the winter? Here are a few tips to help you make the most of your hike:

Dress in layers.

The key to staying warm in the winter is layering. Wear a base layer of moisture-wicking fabric to keep your skin dry, and add on insulating layers like fleece or down as needed. Be sure to wear a waterproof outer layer to protect against the elements.


Wear proper footwear.

Hiking in the snow and ice can be slippery, so it's important to have the right shoes. Look for waterproof, insulated boots with good traction. You may also want to consider using traction devices like Yaktrax or Microspikes to help you stay upright on the trails. Click here to read our guidance on traction devices at Starved Rock State Park.


Pack smart.

In addition to the usual hiking essentials (water, snacks, a map, etc.), there are a few additional items you'll want to bring along on a winter hike. Hand warmers and a hot drink in a thermos can help you stay warm, and a hat, gloves, and a scarf will help protect your skin from the cold.


Be prepared for the elements.

Winter hikes can be unpredictable, so it's important to be prepared for anything. Check the weather forecast before you go, and be ready for strong winds, freezing rain, or even a whiteout. It's also recommended to let someone know your hiking plans and when you expect to be back.


Illinois Canyon

With proper preparation and the right gear, hiking at Starved Rock in the winter can be an incredible and rewarding experience. So don't let the cold weather hold you back – hit the trails and discover the magic of Starved Rock State Park in the snow!

Looking for other recommendations when hiking in the winter? Check out our blog post on recommendations to enhance your winter hiking experience.

We hope these winter hiking tips will help you out on your next snowy adventure! Don’t forget to tag us and use the hashtag starvedrockhikers when sharing all your winter hiking moments! 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.