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Starved Rock Waterfalls

posted Jun 2, 2019, 10:10 AM by Justin P
Sunday, I had breakfast at the hotel, then checked out and headed to Starved Rock State Park. The park is extremely popular, so I wanted to get there early and beat the crowd. Light morning rain also helped. Several parking lots were closed due to flooding so I parked at the lodge. I first headed to French Canyon. A little spur led into the canyon but I couldn't get all the way to the base due to wet rocks, but could still get a decent view of the falls. Then I passes the lodge and headed towards St. Louis canyon. Along the way, I passed Aurora and Sec Canyon. There's no way to the base of Sec Canyon, but I got an obscured view of the falls from the trail. Continuing on, there were a lot of wildflowers blooming along the trail. At the end of the trail, a spur led into St. Louis canyon. The waterfall at the end of the canyon was really high and flowing really well in the high water. And I had it all to myself. Hiking back towards the lodge, I made a short detour into Aurora Canyon. The water was low, but still a nice canyon. Back at the lodge, I got on the Bluff Trail and headed towards Wildcat Canyon. There were two overlooks along the rim, but for a good view, I had to climb the stairs down. The waterfall in Wildcat Canyon was another really beautiful one and there was another smaller flowing down too. More people were entering the canyon so I departed to keep my lead ahead of the crowds and climbed back up the steps. Continuing on, the trail became really muddy and slick. And with very steep drop offs, no good options to avoid the mud. I hiked through the mud along Bluff Trail for a ways and eventually got back down to the river at the spur to LaSalle Canyon. I think this was my favorite waterfall and canyon. The water made a veil and then a small cascade into a pool. The trail led behind the waterfall and continued to Tonty Canyon. There were actually two waterfalls in this canyon, at least today in the high water. Back on the main trail, I hiked along the river and through the mud to the next canyon - Owl Canyon. A spur led into the canyon, but this one didn't have too much water flowing. Continuing on, it was more mud to Hennepin Canyon. The trail passes over the waterfall, but there's no way into the canyon and actually see it. The rim was too overgrown to see anything from up here. Hennepin Overlook was not much further but it was a view of the Illinois River, not the canyon. From here to the road crossing, the mud was exceptionally bad with almost no breaks. Shortly after the road, however, I came to two more canyons. First I headed into Ottawa Canyon and a the nice waterfall in here. Then I went up Kaskaskia Canyon. This waterfall had some down logs on it, but was scenic nonetheless. I was going to continue on to Illinois Canyon, but I had had enough of the mud and it was a long hike back. I stayed close to the river on the hike back and stopped at Eagle Rock Overlook for views of Illinois River. I also hiked around the park's namesake, Starved Rock. The sun had come out now and it was really crowded so I took off. After returning the rental car, I checked in to the Holiday Inn and took a shower to get the mud off. I walked to Giardinos for some Chicago deep dish pizza and then packed up. The flight home was uneventful and I actually arrived early.
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