Kankakee River State Park Hike

Kankakee, Illinois

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Dramatic limestone canyons make this hike the most dangerous in Illinois. Over thousands of years, the Kankakee River has carved a deep gash in the bedrock, creating some of the state’s most interesting (and vertical) landscapes, and forcing hikers to watch their step. The 2-mile out-and-back Rock Creek Trail follows a tributary of the main river, with striking views from the top of the limestone gorge’s leafy eastern cliffs, including a broad, tumbling waterfall at the end. The trailhead was once the site of Little Rock Village, the largest Native American settlement in the region and home to the Council of Three Fires, an alliance between the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes. After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the land belonged to the U.S. government, and all of the Potawatomi fled except for Chief Shawanasee, who stayed behind in a cabin above the river. Today, a stone marks his final resting place along Rock Creek, where he was buried in 1838.

Kankakee River State Park Hike Professional Review and Guide

"Dramatic limestone canyons make this hike the most dangerous in Illinois. Over thousands of years, the Kankakee River has carved a deep gash in the bedrock, creating some of the state’s most interesting (and vertical) landscapes, and forcing hikers to watch their step. The 2-mile out-and-back Rock Creek Trail follows a tributary of the main river, with striking views from the top of the limestone gorge’s leafy eastern cliffs, including a broad, tumbling waterfall at the end. The trailhead was once the site of Little Rock Village, the largest Native American settlement in the region and home to the Council of Three Fires, an alliance between the Chippewa, Ottawa, and Potawatomi tribes. After the Black Hawk War in 1832, the land belonged to the U.S. government, and all of the Potawatomi fled except for Chief Shawanasee, who stayed behind in a cabin above the river. Today, a stone marks his final resting place along Rock Creek, where he was buried in 1838."

Activity Type: Fishing, Hiking, Horseback Riding
Nearby City: Kankakee
Distance: 1.6
Trail Type: Out-and-back
Access: Easy
Duration: 1 hour
Season & Limits: Year-round
Local Contacts: Kankakee River State Park
Local Maps: USGS: Bourbonnais, IL
Driving Directions: Directions to Kankakee River State Park Hike

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May 2018