Starved Rock & Matthiessen


Labor Day, the perfect time for a day trip to our southern State Parks, and apparently every family ever thought the same. We’ve visited these parks before (some of these photos are from our other visits) but I’ve never seen it so busy and filled with screaming children. I don’t love crowds; I love that more people want to get outside and enjoy nature but I usually go hiking to get away from the people.

Anyway complaining time over and lesson learned, we made the best of it. Patience was the theme but we could all use a little more of that in our lives. We hiked for a few hours and enjoyed the waterfalls and though I’d avoid both parks on high traffic days here are some other tips to enjoy your time.

1. Go early – This is true of every park but the earlier you arrive the more likely you are to, get a parking space, enjoy alone time, and get there before people start leaving trash around…

2. Wear shoes you can get wet – Much of the park trail is in or through the revines and if it’s rained the streams can be deeper than the stepping stones. Too many people spend all their time trying not to get their feet wet and I have a secret…they are going to get wet. A father spent 5 minutes yelling at his child because she fell in the stream during a crossing and her shoes got dirty. Kids can’t balance. Adults can’t balance. You’re hiking and you should be wet and dirty by the end of it. Be like Franklin and plow on through.

3. Visit both parks – Matthiessen is my personal favorite but both have waterfalls and nice trails and they’re 5 mins from each other so go to both, but start with Matthiessen.