June 2, 2016
Having been to Starved Rock State Park already, Matthiessen State Park, just further down the same road, seemed like the next hiking day on the to-do-list.
Compared to Starved Rock, Matthiessen seems to have less elevation gain and loss as a whole, but also many more untamed trails. Starved Rock is pretty well-kept and popular, whereas Matthiessen is more of makeshift bridges made out of bridges and trucking through mud.
As a whole, Matthiessen was pretty dang cool. One thing I didn’t account for is how muddy the park was going to be, as well as the amount of water I would be walking in. I would suggest not wearing any favorite shoes or being willing to get them soaked in all the elements. If I had known earlier, Chaco’s would have been my choice.
For this adventure day, the sun was shining and it couldn’t have been any nicer weather. For the most part, the canopy of trees provides great shade and there are multiple waterfalls to keep cool.
The first fall we visited amazingly big. It was easy to climb up and behind, as the rocks weren’t too slippery, although the water was freezing. Getting to this waterfall was a challenge, with all of us ankle-deep in mud and barefoot. Not to mention, there are plenty of creatures on the way to wonder about and if they are now sticking to your feet as you trudge through the mud. It was totally worth every second.
From there, heading the opposite direction, a small river led us to an opening. We waded our way to the main river path and sand filled our shoes. The rest of the day consisted of us being in the company of each other, following random trails, and some great hiking. It’s easy to have fun when you get to spend the day frolicking through the woods with the people you love.
Matthiessen had some awesome secret spots to check out for sure, and I definitely wouldn’t mind going back. Although I like Starved Rock just a little bit better, Matthiessen is a very close second. And when it comes to Illinois, I couldn’t be more grateful that these two state parks are only an hour drive away.
Here’s to more hiking this summer.