Local Hikes: Chicago, IL

The best hikes near Chicago.

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Midewin Tallgrass Prairie Alliance (fs.fed.us/mntp/Alliance/mtpa.htm)

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» Lakefront Trail (Downtown Chicago) “This multi-use path is what makes Chicago one of the greatest cities in the world,” says member Jerry Heinrich. The mostly paved trail runs 18 miles along Lake Michigan and has access to 15 swimming beaches. Best bet: Hike 12 miles from Lincoln Park Zoo to 63rd Street beach. Miles from city center 5; Trip ID776665

» Rock Creek Trail, Kankakee River SP What this trail lacks in difficulty (5.8 miles round-trip, part of it paved) and vertical relief, it makes up for in easy-access wow-factor. Follow the eponymous creek through a 200-foot-deep limestone canyon lined with oaks to a frothy, eight-foot falls. Miles from city center 54; Trip ID49580

» Lasalle and Tonty Canyons, Starved Rock SP “The sandstone gorges and overhanging falls in this park show that Illinois is more than farmland,” says Heinrich. Take the fern-lined Starved Rock Trail on a 4.3-mile loop to the mouths of the park’s two biggest canyons. Crowd-beating tip: Go in winter for lighter traffic–and 200-foot ice columns. Miles from city center 86; Trip ID5677