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What to Expect: Spring Trail Conditions

Be prepared for changing weather and muddy trail conditions.

Waterfalls are flowing, flowers are starting to bloom, greenery is appearing, and rainfall is occurring more often. This leads to extra muddy trails and conditions you may not expect. However, do not fear! Here's how to be prepared and enjoy your spring hike;

  • Check the weather before heading out on the trails. Spring can be an unpredictable time when it comes to snow, rain, sudden temperature changes, and everything in between. Make sure you prepare before you arrive at the trailhead.

  • Layer up! In the spring, it is not uncommon for the morning to be on the chilly side, but by early-mid afternoon, the sun is shining and it is warm. For this reason, it is important to wear layers to ensure you are not too cold or hot on your hike.

  • If the sun is shining, you may want to consider wearing sunscreen if you plan on being outside for a long period of time.

  • Wear or pack waterproof clothing if possible! Showers can come out of nowhere in the spring, so it is best to wear clothing items such as rain jackets to try and stay dry.

  • Waterproof shoes are the best! Expect muddy trails, puddles, and potentially ankle deep creeks to cross when hiking in the spring. We recommend waterproof shoes or boots to keep feet dry. If it is on the warmer side, you could also try hiking sandals such as chacos or tevas, but these may get very muddy.

  • Use caution when hiking after a heavy rainfall, trails may be slick and unpredictable.

  • Watch out for fallen trees after heavy storms.

  • Walk through puddles, not around them. Attempting to avoid puddles and walking around them may cause you to go off trail. This creates a new trail and is not good for the environment.

Some specific trail conditions to look out for at Starved Rock and Matthiessen are river trails, the immediate areas around waterfalls, and the lower dells at Matthiessen State Park. Areas such as the lower and/or upper dells at Matthiessen State Park often close in the Spring/early Summer due to flooding, so have an alternate hiking plan just in case.

Spring is one of the most beautiful times to hike, and the melting snowfall and rain lead to rainbows and waterfalls. We encourage you to hit the trails this spring, but make sure you are prepared for changing weather and trail conditions.

Waterfall Flow Reporting

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 trail!!

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