IllinoisIllinois State ParksU.S.A.Waterfalls

5 Easy & Magical Ice Fall Trails in Starved Rock

Starved Rock State Park Illinois ice Falls

Starved Rock is the gem of Northern Illinois. With deep canyons and gorgeous waterfalls of varying sizes there’s no reason NOT to hit the trails this season.

But why would I go hiking in the winter?

One reason: Ice falls.

Water falls, tide falls, ice falls, how many stupid types of ‘falls are we supposed to care about these days?

I hear ya. But ice falls are seriously cool and, BONUS for us lazy people, you don’t have to work hard to see them. So without further ado, here are 5 easy trails (in order of good looks, naturally) that lead to some absolutely magical ice falls.

Stay warm out there, kiddos!


French Canyon Ice Fall in Starved Rock State Park

5. French Canyon Ice Fall

Located just a short 1/2 mile walk from the visitor center, this ice fall is probably the easiest (distance-wise) to access. However, the final hike up can be a bit daunting. Depending on just how cold it is, you’ll either be walking through shallow water and over slippery, wet rock or on top of very slick ice (and all uphill… fun!).

While it might not be the most impressive of Starved Rock ice falls due it’s lack of interesting formations, it’s still worth the quick stop! Especially since it’s practically on the way to Wildcat Canyon.

WARNING: Do not attempt unless you have good shoes and, at the very least, half-decent balance. 

DISTANCE: 0.8 miles, round trip from the Visitor Center.


Size (Height and Width): 6/10

Formations: 3/10

Clarity: 6/10

Overall Score: 5.3

St. Louis Canyon in Starved Rock

4. St. Louis Canyon Ice Fall

The perfect trail to take if you want to feel teeny tiny – this frozen waterfall reaches dramatic heights and is quite literally oozing from the walls! (Could I have possibly put that in a grosser way?)

Because of the amount of water seeping through the rock, there’s some muddy gunk tainting the nice, white ice (bringing our clarity rating way down… boooo!) but this ice fall remains list worthy for it’s size and interesting ice patterns.

DISTANCE: 3 miles, round trip from the Visitor Center OR about 3/4 mile, round trip from the nearest parking lot.


Size (Height and Width): 7/10

Formations: 6/10

Clarity: 4/10

Overall Score: 5.6


3. Wildcat Canyon Ice Fall

Wildcat Canyon is by far Starved Rock’s most popular (and most visited) ice fall. Partially due to its proximity to the Visitor Center and partially due to, well, it’s good looks! (Ow, ow!)

This stunning frozen waterfall zig zags down the canyon wall, forming a narrow and intricate structure that looks a little precarious. But, of course, you can’t have good looks and stability! Or can you? Stay tuned…

DISTANCE: 2 miles, round trip from the Visitor Center.


Size (Height and Width): 7/10

Formations: 7/10

Clarity: 7/10

Overall Score: Solid 7

LaSalle Canyon intricate ice falls

Admiring the ice fall of LaSalle Canyon in Starved Rock State Park

2. LaSalle Canyon Ice Fall

Whimsical formations that look too good to be unintentional; A frozen window frame, staggered pillars with a tint of teal and frosty blue, and a waterfall that quite literally looks like it’s been flash-frozen in time. This ice fall completely blew my mind! Who knew winter could be quite so lovely?

Of course, every year the “design” of the falls will vary slightly, but walking through LaSalle Canyon, I felt like the queen of the ice realm. (Don’t worry, I’ll spare you the Disney song lyrics.)

DISTANCE: 4 miles, round trip from the Visitor Center OR about 2 miles, round trip from the Parkman’s Plain lot.


Size (Height and Width): 6/10

Formations 9/10

Clarity: 8/10

Overall Score: 7.6

Ottawa canyon ice fall in Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

1. Ottawa Canyon Ice Fall

Ottawa Canyon for the win!

This ice fall hits all the hot spots (perhaps the wrong analogy): It’s huge, interesting to look at, and sparkly clean! Not to mention, it’s just a quick (and mostly flat) jaunt from the nearest parking lot – making it the easiest of the Top 5 trails in Starved Rock.

DISTANCE: 7.8 miles, round trip from the Visitor Center OR about 1/2 a mile, round trip from the nearest parking lot.


Size (Height and Width): 9/10

Formations: 7/10

Clarity: 9/10

Overall Score: 8.3

What’s your favorite way to get outdoors during the winter? Tell me about it below!



One comment

  1. Living in this wonderful moment is really a wonderful experience for you. Ice Fall seems really amazing, Everyone wants to spend some time in this wonderful moment. Thanks for sharing these all ice fall images with us.

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