5 Must-See Dog-Friendly Chicago Waterfalls

Midwest may be Best, but yeah…we are not exactly the country’s leading region for scenic waterfalls. However, your dog is also like 15 inches tall, so from her eyes, the waterfalls from the mostly-flat plains of Illinois are pretty doggone cool. Check out these 5 “must see” Chicago waterfalls with your pal! 

1. Waterfall Glen

With over 11 miles of limestone and turf trails, you and your pup can plan on spending all day at this forest preserve to explore the natural scenes of the Midwest. The titular waterfall is the Rocky Glen waterfall (which conveniently has its own parking lot if hiking is not in your dog’s itinerary for the day). While the waterfall is not the world’s tallest, a nice bonus is that the water isn’t the world’s deepest either—the shallow waters are perfect for a refreshing wade on a hot day. After a good day of exploring, check out the dog-friendly Miskatonic Brewing Company near the forest preserve for a well-earned brew. 

2. Matthiessen State Park

Located 90 minutes away from Chicago, this state park earns its drive with several waterfalls in the park. With 5 miles of trails, you can enjoy a nice stroll while looking for them. The big boy of the park is the 45-foot Cascade Falls located in a mile-long canyon. You’ll be able to find the Lake Falls waterfall and the Giant’s Bathtub Falls nearby as well. 

If Fido is as dedicated to hunting waterfalls as he is to hunting squirrels, then he’ll know that the best time to check this park out is in the spring—by the time summer hits, the water is less of a “fall” and more of a “trickle.”

3. Starved Rock State Park

TLC said, “Don’t go chasing waterfalls…” and we say throw that advice out the window. At Starved Rock State Park, there are 18 canyons, 14 of which have waterfalls throughout the year. However, you’re gonna have to work for them since they’re all only accessible via hike; you’re in luck though—we called Starved Rock one of favorite dog-friendly hikes near Chicago, and for good reason. The trails are well-maintained and wide enough to get distance from other hikers (for our reactive waterfall hunters!).

We recommend The Wildcat Canyon, which is the park’s largest waterfall and about 1 mile away from the visitor’s center.  

4. Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve

We have a “secret” waterfall for you, but since Fluffy hasn’t learned how to speak yet, I think she can keep it. The Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in Elgin has something for everypuppy—woodland for hiking, river shoreline for canoeing or fishing, and an 8-foot natural waterfall for your dog to sniff out. 

This waterfall doesn’t have a name, but it does have a location—you can find it off Route 31 by heading south on the Riverbend Bike Trail.

6. France Park

2.5 hours southeast of Chicago, France Park is some of the best outdoor recreation in Cass County Indiana. This park is an abandoned stone quarry that features a 15-foot waterfall. While the waterfall itself is kind of “eh,” there’s 10 miles of well-maintained trails for hiking, biking, or cross country skiing. Popular for swimming and scuba diving, this water is crystal clear (but maybe not after your dog’s done with it). 

If you’re going to be making the trip, there’s over 200 wooded campsites so you and pupper can really take in nature.

What are your pupper’s favorite spots in nature around Chicago? Woof at us in the comments and tag us with #SidewalkDog on Instagram to show us your outdoorsy adventures!

Featured photo: Andrew S

Sidewalk Dog’s mission is to help dog parents spend more time with their puppers by discovering and sharing activities they can do and places they can go—together! Sniff out our award-winning newsletter and Instagram, and join our Dog-Friendly Chicago Facebook Group.

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