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Chicago Scout

Meet Erica Zazo, Backpacker's Chicago Trail Scout

Think there's no good hiking near the Windy City? Think again, says our expert.

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Follow Erica’s adventures on her Instagram account: @onecurioustrvlr.

Age: 24

Hometown: Chicago, IL

Day job: Account Manager at Propllr doing PR for tech startups

All-time favorite local dayhike: Matthiessen State Park trails

Favorite local overnight hike: Manistee River Trail in the Huron-Manistee National Forest, Michigan. (It’s close by Midwestern standards—5 hours away.)

Best prehike breakfast spot: I typically stick to a quick breakfast at home so we can hit the trail early. Highly recommend some sweet potato hash topped with an over easy egg and giardiniera. If I’m getting fancy, I’ll add a strawberry banana smoothie on the side.

Best posthike dinner spot: Kuma’s Corner in Avondale for a “Metallica” burger, fried pickles, and strong IPA to wash it down.

Favorite thing about hiking around Chicago: Escaping the city for an afternoon, but still being able to come back to all the action.

Top tip for Chicago hikers: Sometimes it may feel like you’re trapped in the city, but there are some great Chicago resources for finding local hikes. Check out the Forest Preserves of Cook County’s interactive map for a variety of trails all within an hour.