6 Mutts-See Dog-Friendly Chicago Waterfalls

Chicago is renowned for food, sports, parks, music, museums, beaches…but not exactly its waterfall scene. 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 6 mutts see Chicago waterfalls with your pal! 

1. Waterfall Glen

With over 11 miles of limestone and turf trails, you and pup can plan on spending all day at this forest preserve exploring the natural scenery of the Midwest. The titular waterfall is the Rocky Glen (which conveniently has its own parking lot if doggo isn’t game for a hike). While it isn’t the world’s tallest waterfall, it also isn’t the deepest, making for a shallow pool perfect for a refreshing wade on a hot day. Post-hike brews (and water for pup) can be found nearby at dog-friendly Miskatonic Brewing Company.

2. Matthiessen State Park

Located 90 minutes from Chicago, this state park has several waterfalls to explore, making it well worth the drive. With 5 miles of trails, you and floof can take your time sniffing out each one. 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 out this park 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…” but 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 named Starved Rock one of our favorite dog-friendly hikes near Chicago, and for good reason. The trails are well-maintained and wide enough to allow distance from other hikers, great for our reactive waterfall chasers! We recommend Wildcat Canyon, the park’s largest waterfall located about 1 mile 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, we think she can keep it. The Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in Elgin has something for everypuppy—woodlands for hiking, river shoreline for canoeing or fishing, and an 8-foot natural waterfall for hoomans and pups to admire. 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.

5. France Park

A 2.5-hour trek southeast of Chicago, France Park offers some of the best outdoor recreation in Cass County, Indiana. This picturesque park is an abandoned stone quarry that features a 15-foot waterfall. While the waterfall itself might not blow your mind, there’s 7 miles of well-maintained trails for hiking, biking, or cross country skiing. Popular for swimming and scuba diving, the lake is crystal clear (but maybe not after doggo’s done with it). If you’re making the trip, there’s over 200 wooded campsites so you and your adventure pup can fully immerse yourselves in nature.

6. Lake Katherine

Though Lake Katherine’s waterfall is not a natural wonder, the man-made masterpiece is still worth a visit. Point your paws toward Palos Heights, Illinois, about a 40-minute drive from the city, to take in the views. The Lake Katherine Nature Center regularly hosts events and educational programming, so be sure to sniff out their website to see what’s coming up. Some rules to keep in mind when visiting: dogs must be leashed and swimming is not allowed.

What are 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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