Let's Hike Matthiessen State Park, lunch then Hike Starved Rock. (Tim S.)

This will be an all day event. Hiking at Matthiessen, picnic lunch and hike part of Starved Rock. Miles: 10-15 Time: 5-6 hours including lunch and breaks. Bring your lunch it can be left in your car and after the first part of our hike we can have a picnic lunch then head over to Illinois Canyon in Starved Rock. Pets are welcome but must be on a leash. These trails can be muddy and very wet. I suggest a change of clothes.

Wet Trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Muddy Trails

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There will be 2 other Meetup groups hiking with us for a total of 75 people. Please be on time we will not wait for late comers. I am posting 2 maps of the hiking routs we will be doing so you can find us. Cell phones hardly work in the canyons.

 

Matthiessen Hike.

Starved Rock Hike

The park has 5 miles of well-marked, well-surfaced hiking trails for a relaxing walk or a vigorous hike. Large trail maps are located at all major trail intersections so visitors can choose a variety of routes. The upper area and bluff tops are easy hiking paths for the novice, but the trails into the interiors of the two dells may be difficult to negotiate, particularly during spring and early summer

I have hiked Matthiessen many times and in many ways I like it better than Starved Rock. The lower trails can be very wet and muddy.

Canyons, streams, prairie and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for a special outing.

History

Matthiessen State Park was named for Frederick William Matthiessen, a prominent industrialist and philanthropist from LaSalle. He originally purchased the land near the end of the 19th century and operated it as a privately owned park for many years. Mr. Matthiessen employed about 50 people to construct trails, bridges, stairways and check dams. The area was originally referred to as “Deer Park,” in reference to the large deer population. The original 176-acre park consisted primarily of a long, narrow canyon with a small stream flowing through it. At that time these formations were called “dells,” a name that has stayed with the park. After Matthiessen’s death, the park was donated to the state of Illinois, which opened it as a public park. In 1943, the state renamed the park in honor of Matthiessen. Since then, the park has grown to 1,938 acres and includes much of the significant natural areas along the main dell, some former prairie land, and some forest land south of the original park.

WaterfallGeological Features

The many unusual and beautiful rock formations make a trip to Matthiessen State Park an educational as well as a fun experience. Exposed sandstone can be seen throughout. The main canyon, consisting of the Upper and Lower Dells, provides an unusual and interesting walking tour. The Upper Dell begins at Deer Park Lake and continues to Cascade Falls, where the canyon drops 45 feet and the Lower Dell begins. The canyon, formed by water erosion, is approximately 1 mile long, from Deer Park Lake to the Vermilion River. Visitors may observe ground water seeping out along the sandstone of the canyon walls. Minerals carried in solution in the ground water contribute to the beautiful coloring of the rocks.

Several mineral springs, with the park were popular salt lick spots for the large deer population.

Flora and Fauna

Visitors will delight at the abundance of plant and animal life. The park is alive with common and uncommon species of flora and fauna. The canyon provides a perfect habitat for many mosses and liverworts which thrive on the damp, shady walls. Ferns also grow in the rich soil. Other vegetation in the canyon interior is limited to the simpler or lower orders of plant life, because most plants cannot root on the steep rock walls. Cliff swallows and rock doves may be seen perching on the canyon walls, while frogs, toads and salamanders seek out the cool, moist canyon floors.

Along the dry, sandy bluff tops near the canyon edge, black oak, red cedar and white oak grow in abundance. White pines and white cedar also are found here, carried south by the glaciers of long ago. Shrubs common to this area include serviceberry and northern honeysuckle. Scarlet tanagers and cedar waxwings can be seen feeding on the berries of these shrubs. Holes made by yellow-bellied sapsuckers can be found on the cedar trees, as these birds feed on the sap and small insects located there. In the spring, beautiful magenta-colored blossoms erupt on the shooting star plants and the bright orange of the columbine delights the eye. By summertime, a rainbow of color emerges with the yellow partridge pea, violet spiked lead plants and purple square-stemmed mint plants.


Farther back from the bluffs, bur oak and hickory grow. At the foot of these trees grow American witch hazel, black huckleberry and bracken fern. Nuthatches and chickadees can be seen feeding on the nuts, seeds and insects here.

Jack-in-the-pulpits, pastel-colored hepatica and delicate pink spring beauties blossom in the shaded forest soil during the spring. In the area where the sun breaks through the trees, black-eyed Susans and pink, spiked tick-trefoils bloom through the summer. Raccoons and flying squirrels spend hours among the trees searching for and gathering berries and nuts.

Along the forest edges, bright blue indigo buntings fly among the wild crabapple and plum trees. Cottontail rabbits scamper through the bluestem and Indian grasses. Red-tailed hawks soar overhead searching for field mice. Three-leaved poison ivy plants are found in all areas of the park, growing both as a vine and as an individual woody plant. Its greenish-white berries are a prime source of food for many birds.

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  • A former member
    A former member

    Had a blast meeting everyone! (So did Kyle, and most of all, Bacchus the puppy. :) ) Looking forward to the next event.

    1 · March 31, 2013

    • Tim S

      Bacchus seemed to enjoy playing in the water.

      April 1, 2013

  • Jeanie H.

    A well-planned hike, gorgeous scenery, great people and a beautiful day! What more can one ask for? : )

    1 · March 31, 2013

  • Jim

    Great hike!! Matthiessen was a real treat :) Perfect weather and fun people, thanks Tim.

    March 31, 2013

  • Ozzee

    Great outing and wonderful people! Wow, can't ask for more! It was a pleasure sharing this experience with you all.

    1 · March 31, 2013

  • Donna C.

    It is Beautiful, but Tim.... be careful of those hidden mud puddles! lol

    2 · March 27, 2013

    • Tim S

      It was mud slides this year. LOL

      March 30, 2013

    • Donna C.

      You're safe and none of the puddles sucked you in this year! lol SO Life is Good! Mud sliding could have been fun, if it was warmer.... just have to watch for those sneaky tree roots. lol

      March 31, 2013

  • John D

    Also, where did everyone go? A group of four of us continued on to the Hennepin Canyon but didn't see anyone from our group.

    March 30, 2013

    • Tim S

      We walked to the road because it was too muddy.

      March 30, 2013

  • John D

    Nice people, not so nice path. Lots of mud! Lots of fun too. Jumping over streams, trudging through the mud, and the scenery was beautiful.

    March 30, 2013

  • cathy b r.

    i live in niles and need a ride : (

    March 28, 2013

    • Fong

      Hi Cathy: I could pick you up at Starbucks off 55th and Woodlawn in Hyde Park. We'll be leaving the area at 6:45am. Hope this helps!

      March 28, 2013

  • Fong

    Hi Cathy: I could pick you up at Starbucks off 55th and Woodlawn in Hyde Park. We'll be leaving the area at 6:45am. Hope this helps!

    March 28, 2013

  • Fong

    It seems that I have to drive. I will be leaving from Hyde Park. I have room for 3 more people. If you would like to carpool, I could pick you up anywhere near UofChicago Med Hospitals or at the Metra bus station off Lake Shore Drive. Contact me directly at [masked]. Thanks!

    March 28, 2013

  • Michael G

    Sorry I just realized that I already had plans for the morning

    March 28, 2013

  • Fong

    Anyone leaving from Hyde Park? or Driving past Hyde Park? Will split gas costs. Please let me [masked]. Thanks!

    March 28, 2013

  • Michael G

    Do you mind if I bring my dog?

    March 28, 2013

    • Tim S

      You can bring your dog.

      2 · March 28, 2013

  • Michael G

    Driving from Morton grove and i can pick up people. Sharing the gas is a plus :)

    March 28, 2013

  • Helen H

    Wish I can...

    March 27, 2013

  • cathy b r.

    im excited

    1 · March 27, 2013

  • John D

    Tim, is there room in one of the other meetup groups for my son to tag along?

    March 26, 2013

    • Tim S

      A spot opened up with this Meetup group and I added him as your +1.

      1 · March 26, 2013

    • John D

      Thanks Tim!

      March 26, 2013

  • Victoria

    Are there any possible spots still open?

    March 26, 2013

  • Gayle

    Signed up with another group!! Looking forward to it!!

    March 26, 2013

  • Jeanie H.

    The latest weather forecast, calls for temperatures in the low 50's. Perfect hiking weather! : )

    3 · March 26, 2013

  • Tim S

    Welcome aboard Cathy. Glad you can make it.

    March 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looking forward to our first outing with the group! :)

    1 · March 25, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I need to carpool to this event...if anyone is driving from Chicago Please let me know. Thanks in advance :)

    March 24, 2013

  • Tim S

    The forecast for Utica on Saturday is mid 50’s. Good for hiking. Please be on time. There are 65 people signed up for this hike with 3 Meetup groups. We will start hiking at 9:30 in Matthiessen State Park. As we embark on our hike will be going down around 200 stairs to get to the canyon floor of the Upper Dells. Remember what goes down must also go up. When we finish Matthiessen we will take a short break to eat lunch. Remember to bring something to eat. There is nowhere to purchase food. Matthiessen can be very wet and muddy. I suggest bringing a change of clothes and shoes. After Matthiessen we will head over to the far east end of Starved Rock and hike some more and we will be going up steep trails and going up and down lots more stairs, up to 140+ at a time.

    March 24, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    Looks like great fun but I have my next to last skating lesson that morning. Maybe next time...

    March 18, 2013

  • Tim S

    This is posted on another hiking site and there will be 50 people on this hike.

    March 2, 2013

  • A former member
    A former member

    I'm at Red River Reunion down in the gorge in KY that whole week.

    February 23, 2013

  • Tim S

    Ione: That is you in the top picture from last year.

    February 22, 2013

  • rita r

    Signed up through the Recreational Hikers Meetup.

    1 · February 22, 2013

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