7 Serene Waterfalls in Illinois and Chicago’s Suburbs for Breathtaking Hiking Destinations

Outdoor Places to GoNature

Waterfalls in Illinois are quite a magical sight to see, and we’re fortunate to have a nice collection of these hidden gems right here in the suburbs of Chicago. Arriving at a breathtaking waterfall is such a treat after a nice hike. Of course, part of the fun is the adventure of finding these peaceful parts of nature.

There are loads of picturesque, kid-friendly wooded trails to explore on your quest that lead to truly beautiful, unique waterfalls. We’ve found the very best ones locally!

Remember to bring those water shoes. Pack the sunscreen and bug spray, too. A change of clothes for the car ride home might also be helpful to bring in case the kids choose to wade around in the creeks near the waterfalls.

Delnor Woods Waterfall in St. Charles

Photo courtesy of local mom Lauretta Q.

Delnor Woods Park
517 IL-25
St. Charles, IL 60174

There are several paved paths that circle the park and a fun spot to cross the creek is right by this waterfall! A restoration project happened here recently to restore the dam (originally built in the 1930s) and is now fully functional allowing visitors to fish and bird watch.

Blackhawk Waterfall in South Elgin

Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve
35W003 Route 31
South Elgin, IL 60177

This is a natural waterfall that is a bit off the beaten path in comparison to most waterfalls around the Chicagoland area that are made from dams. Annie wrote a fantastic article about this beautiful waterfall that cascades down into a shallow creek, including helpful tips on where to park for Blackhawk Waterfall.

Lake Katherine Waterfall in Palos Heights

Lake Katherine Botanic Gardens
7402 Lake Katherine Drive
Palos Heights, IL 60463

You’ll find a small, lovely waterfall near the entrance of the gardens, not far from the parking lot. The grounds at Lake Katherine are also perfect for exploring wildlife and hiking and includes a great little nature center, too! Learn more about visiting this spot including additional photos and helpful tips here!

Waterfall Glen: Rocky Glen Waterfall in Darien

Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Cass And Northgate Roads
Darien, IL 60561

There’s a reason this is a favorite of our team as it’s surrounded by lots of fun stuff to do in the great outdoors and is also just breathtaking! Read our article with insider visiting tips for Waterfall Glen from several Kidlist contributors that includes where to park, how to find the waterfall, and neat areas of interest to enjoy along the way.

Phillips Park in Aurora

Phillips Park
1000 Ray Moses Drive
Aurora, IL 60505

What a great place Phillips Park is to visit with a lake trail, colorful tulip garden and gorgeous waterfall! You’ll also find a zoo, tennis courts, playground, skate and dog parks here. The park map will help you to better navigate around this fun-filled area.

Starved Rock State Park in Utica

Starved Rock State Park
Rte. 178 and Rte. 71
Utica, IL 61373

Even though there a few waterfalls at Starved Rock, we recommend St. Louis Canyon for families with younger kids as the hike to the waterfall is 3 miles round trip and it’s also the least muddy trail. Rachel put together great tips for your trip, so be sure to check those out before you go.

Matthiessen State Park in Oglesby

Matthiessen State Park
2500 IL-178
Oglesby, IL 61348

Not only will you find pretty waterfalls here, but also bright sunflower fields to explore (no picking) from mid-July – early August. These are located on the back side of the Matthiessen Vermillion River Area. Please note: Matthiessen Dells and Vermillion River areas tend to shut down on weekends May-October when the parking lots are full.

Note: The Fullersburg Woods waterfall is now gone.

Please note that the man-made dam that created the waterfall at Fullersburg Woods in Oak Brook was removed in December 2023.

Want to see where the waterfall was? Park in the lot off of York Road, slightly north of Ogden Avenue, then walk the paved trail under the bridge and past the giant waterwheel on the Graue Mill Museum.

Interested in learning more about why the dam was removed? DuPage Forest Preserve put together a Q&A.

Want more nature?

Inspired by nature’s beauty and ready to explore beyond waterfalls? We have tons of ideas for you! Here are just a few:

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