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Matthiessen State Park, Utica

#2 of 10 in Things to do in Utica
Matthiessen State Park is an Illinois state park located a few miles south of the more famous Starved Rock State Park. The main entrances to both parks are located on Illinois State Route 178.
The park is near Oglesby, in LaSalle County, Illinois, United States. It is named for Frederick William Matthiessen, who had originally owned the of property that is at the core of the current park. Two mansions, several cottages, a garage, and a private fire station were built here by Matthiessen for his family. It was an estate that hosted a private park known as "Deer Park". The park was donated to Illinois by Matthiessen's heirs, following his death in 1918, and was renamed in his honor in 1943. Since then, land was added, growing the park to. The last building of the former estate was destroyed in 1981, although some of the concrete stairs leading into the canyon are of the original construction.
The park is centered on a stream that flows from Matthiessen Lake to the Vermilion River. The stream has eroded partway through the sandstone layers, leaving interesting rock formations and drops. The Upper Dells begin at Matthiessen Lake with the Lake Falls, which drop into the canyon below, and continue downstream to the 45ft Cascade Falls where the Lower Dells begin. The interesting coloration of many of the canyons is the result of minerals in the groundwater. Many mineral springs exist throughout the park, providing salt lick spots for the large deer population.
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Matthiessen State Park Reviews
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446 reviews
  • Great day trip for anyone in central or northern Illinois, It's beautiful hiking and picnic area the hiking is a little more rugged than Starved Rock or Buffalo Rock. And you must be able to handle st...  more »
  • Visited the park with my grown daughter to hike the trails and see the fort. Everything was so beautiful. We met up with a small group of "birders" and all enjoyed viewing the American Woodcock courts...  more »
  • Wonderful place for day hiking. Short ride from Starved Rock and in my opinion the much better option. Nice waterfall and little came system. Beautiful trails with gorgeous scenery! I would highly recommend this hike over Starved Rock. We've done both a bunch of times, and have always enjoyed this one more!
  • Generally better than Starved Rock. It's usually less traveled. Best to always bring a towel or to have one handy in the summer to dry your feet. Always wear shoes you don't mind getting wet because you'll inevitably wish you did so you can walk in the water or near some falls. Just always remember to be respectful of the nature. Leave nothing and take nothing.

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