As I’ve mentioned in a previous post about Lake Falls, Matthiessen State Park is a very interesting park in north-central Illinois. While I found Starved Rock State Park to be very beautiful, I had better luck finding flowing waterfalls in Matthiessen. Luckily, both parks are very close by, so you can feasibly stop by both on the same day.
I’ve also mentioned before that the trail system is somewhat complex, so you should take some time to explore the park. A map of the park is here. Once I found Cascade Falls, I had a significant amount of fun photographing the falls because of the reflection in the pool at the base of the falls. The falls are approximately 15′ tall, and are surrounded by canyon walls on both sides, and I played around with a number of different perspectives for pictures. (You will want to bring bug spray, though, as the pool is a great place for mosquitoes to grow up!)
1) Exit I-80 and head south along IL-178 toward North Utica (a small town).
2) Keep heading south on IL-178 past the entrance to Starved Rock State Park. The entrance to Matthiessen State Park will be on your left (if you’re heading south).
3) Head to the parking area, and then start hiking in the Dells Area. As mentioned above, the trail system is a little bit odd and complex, so just try and wander around. It’s pretty difficult to get completely lost.
Where in the World is Cascade Falls?: map