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Leave No Trace at Starved Rock State Park

Special event spotlight on June 3 from 10am-noon at Park Visitor Center

We're all drawn to the natural beauty of Starved Rock State Park. Its sandstone canyons, cascading waterfalls, and vibrant wildlife offer an escape unlike any other. But to keep this pristine landscape intact for future generations, we must respect the principles of Leave No Trace. Let's explore what these principles entail and how you can implement them during your hike.

Plan Ahead and Prepare

Before embarking on your hike, familiarize yourself with park rules, weather conditions, and trail difficulty. We recommend viewing our Park Dashboard for the most up-to-date information! An informed hiker is less likely to take actions that can harm the park's environment. Remember to pack wisely to ensure you have everything you need, such as water, snacks, and a map or GPS for navigation.

Travel on Durable Surfaces

Starved Rock State Park has numerous well-marked trails designed to reduce erosion and protect sensitive areas. Stick to these paths, even if it’s muddy. When stepping off the trail can't be avoided due to an obstacle, opt for durable surfaces like rock or dry grass. Rock may be slippery when wet.

Dispose of Waste Properly

"Pack it in, pack it out." Any waste you create, including food wrappers, tissues, or fruit peels, should be packed up and taken out of the park. This prevents pollution, keeps wildlife safe, and maintains the natural beauty of the park.

Leave What You Find

The joy of hiking in Starved Rock lies in discovering its natural and historical treasures. However, these treasures must stay in the park. This includes rocks, plants, feathers, and any wildlife. By leaving what you find, you allow others to experience the same sense of discovery.

Minimize Campfire Impact

While campfires aren't typically a part of day hikes at Starved Rock, it's worth mentioning they are allowed in the designated camping area for overnight visitors using the campground. Use designated fire rings if available, keep fires small, and avoid using branches from the woods and instead firewood from the firewood machine located at the Starved Rock Campground. Campfires are not allowed inside of the park.

Respect Wildlife

Wildlife encounters can be a fun part of hiking in Starved Rock. Keep a safe distance and never feed animals, as this can disrupt their natural foraging habits. Be cautious during breeding, nesting, and winter seasons when wildlife is particularly vulnerable.

Be Considerate of Other Visitors

Starved Rock State Park is for everyone to enjoy. Be courteous to others by yielding on trails, keeping your noise level down, and respecting closed trails and areas.

Looking for more information and tips? Join us Saturday, June 3, from 10-12 for a fun-filled morning celebrating National Trails Day and Starved Rock State Parks nomination for a Spotlight with the National Leave No Trace Campaign!

There will be stations with park and recreation education, activities, games, handouts, and more. Bring your friends, co-workers, or family members and join in for a park clean up-bring your own gloves please. The kicks off in the field behind the Starved Rock Visitor Center.

Remember, every small action can make a significant difference. By following these Leave No Trace principles, we can all contribute to preserving the beauty and integrity of Starved Rock State Park, making it a haven for nature and hikers alike for decades to come!


As a reminder, we are asking every person who hikes to a waterfall this spring/summer to submit a waterfall flow rate report on our website at 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 your spring 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 trails.

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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.