Kankakee River State Park – Illinois


Kankakee River State Park is about an hour south of Chicago located in Bourbonnaise, Illinois. We camped here when we visited Starved Rock State Park and Mathissen State Park. Overall, the park is really nice. Our camp site was in the Hawthorne loop of the Potawatami campground. If you are pulling a larger camper, you may want to check out the Chippewa campground as the roads in the Potawatami campground can be a bit tight. The sites are secluded with trees on at least two sides of you.

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As far as hiking goes, there is a paved hiking/biking trail that runs the length of the park which has nice views of the river and a cool suspension bridge that crosses Rock Creek.There is also sort of “hidden” trail. I kept seeing on maps that there was a waterfall, but I could not figure out how to get there. If you ask as the Visitor’s Center, they will give you a self-guided interpretive trail map. The trail is located across the road from the main park. I will warn you, its kinda a weird trail. It is not very long, but you walk through some forest area and then eventually you end up on a old paved road. You can see the waterfall from here, but when we were there the water was so high that it was not much of a waterfall at all, more like just a river =) If you do this hike, make sure to hike down the paved path towards the main road and then cut off through the grasses to get a peek at the cave across the creek.

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3 comments

  1. Was looking for blogs about hiking in the Midwest, and found yours. The Kankakee River SP is kind of my “home” park. You must have been there after some significant rain; the waterfall is usually not like that except in the spring after a lot of rain. That really is kind of on a “hidden trail” though most locals know about that.

    • Thanks for the comment!! Yes we were there during some major flooding that summer. Parts of Starved Rock and Mathiessen were also closed! I happened to see “waterfall” mentioned on a map somewhere and the park ranger told me about the other hidden trail!!

      • When you cross the suspension bridge, on the western side there are a few trails that can be scrambled down to reach the water for Rock Creek. We’ve spent many a summer day wading in the water there – provided the water isn’t fast moving (like you saw). Late July / early August is usually a good time to enjoy the water there. I’ve been to Matthiessen a couple times like what you experienced too – but when the water isn’t high, it’s a LOT of fun hiking in the canyon sections!

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