Top Hiking Trails in Lake County

Lake County is home to hundreds of miles of trails for you to explore!  Whether you’re looking for a quick hike or if you’re looking for a more challenging distance, there are trails for all fitness levels just waiting for you! 

Illinois Beach State Park
in Zion
Enjoy scenic views of Lake Michigan’s stunning shoreline and experience some of Lake County’s most pristine outdoor spaces.  Within this 4,160 acre park, you can hike the north end of the park on a graveled 2.2 mile loop trail that brings you through prairie, forest and of course… sandy beaches.

Start in the Visitor’s Center parking lot on the park’s south side, and then follow the route south. Enjoy lookout platforms along the way.  Stop along the beach at the end of mile marker 1 to enjoy Lake Michigan’s beautiful sights before continuing on the trail.

Click here for more information on Illinois Beach State park including camping, swimming and parking.


Des Plaines River Trail

This trail is all about convenience… mostly because no matter where you are in Lake County, you’re probably not far from the Des Plaines River Trail – considering it runs the entire north/south length of the county.  From Cook County in the south, to the Wisconsin border in the north, this trail has 31 miles of path, so you can choose the section you’d like to hike.

Beautiful throughout the year, this trail connects favorite destinations on its north end like Van Patten Woods, Wadsworth Savanna, Sedge Meadow, Lake Carina and Independence Grove.  The south end continues on, connecting Wilmot Woods, Old School Forest Preserve, MacArthur Woods, Grainger Woods, Captain Daniel Wright Woods, Ryerson Conservation Area and the Cahokia Flatwoods.


Beulah Park Nature Area in Zion
Just west of Illinois Beach State Park, (Head west on 17th street and it’ll be on your left after Sheridan Rd.)  But be forewarned – this trail is not meant to be taken lightly.  It’s an off road trail with a lot of wooded and dirt sections, but it’s unmarked and can get a little confusing with over 5 miles of extensions and variations to the trail, but if you’re looking for a more challenging experience, including hills, logs and steep inclines, then this is it!  Insider Tip: watch out for mountain bikers and BMX bikers because they love this off road trail!



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Chain O’Lakes State Park in Antioch
Choose from four trail systems!  For a brief and relaxing stroll, try the Nature’s Way hiking trail at Oak Grove Picnic Area that’s 2.25 miles and the Pike Mash in the North Picnic Area has a mini trail only .25 miles long.

There is also an equestrian trail with three loops and this one is 8 miles long.  Or you can choose the popular biking/hiking trail for a 6 mile hike.  Catch that trail at any of the picnic areas that are in between the concession stand and the park office.

Insider Tip:  While you’re out there, be sure to look for some of Lake County’s birds.  Check out our Bird Watching page for more info!)

Local Tip!

The Lake County Forest Preserves are running their annual Hike Lake County challenge.  Complete 7 of these hikes by November 30 and you’ll get a fancy commemorative shield.  Plus some serious bragging rights.

   Lake County Challenge Trails

  • Fort Sheridan, 1.7 miles.
  • Grant Woods, 1.6 miles.
  • Greenbelt, 1.9 miles.
  • Half Day, 1.6 miles.
  • Hastings Lake, 2.2 miles.
  • Lakewood, 1.7 miles.
  • Marl Flat, 1.8 mile.
  • Ray Lake, 2.3 miles.
  • Rollins Savanna, 3.6 miles.
  • Ryerson Woods, 2.5 miles.
  • Sedge Meadow, 1.7 miles.
  • Van Patten Woods, 1.7 miles.
  • Wild Card You pick! Choose a 2-mile walk at any Lake County Forest Preserve trail.


Map and Trail information from Lake County Forest Preserves

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2 Responses to Top Hiking Trails in Lake County

  1. Emily & Charlie November 29, 2016 at 7:24 pm #

    Are there any well-lit trails in the area for hiking after dark? I’m finding it quite difficult to get exercise for my dog and I during these winter months, since the sun is setting well before I get home from work and the forest preserves close at sunset. Any tips would be very much appreciated!

    • Celeste March 5, 2017 at 5:08 pm #

      There are a few locations with lights between November and March, if you search the Lake County Forest Preserve, you’ll find the locations.

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