Best Hiking Trails and Parks in the Midwest

If you’re looking to get out in nature this summer, here are eight hiking trails and parks to enjoy in the Midwest.

What comes to mind when you think of the Midwest? Probably cornfields, football, clear blue skies, and maybe some Wisconsin cheese curds. But the Midwest is more than just farmland. There are some beautiful state parks, forests, lakes, and other areas that are perfect for a summer hike.

1.) Black Hills National Forest, South Dakota

South Dakota is well known for its rugged, natural landscapes and landmarks, including Mount Rushmore, Badlands National Park, and the Black Hills National Forest. For moderately experienced hikers, and those looking for a challenge, the Black Hills have hundreds of trails of all different lengths to choose from, and millions of acres to explore. Incredible views of mountains, water, and trees are guaranteed, no matter where you choose to hike.

2.) Devil’s Lake State Park, Wisconsin

There’s a reason Devil’s Lake State Park draws the most visitors out of all Wisconsin’s other state parks. Located in the southern part of the state, Devil’s Lake is home to beaches, forests, and beautiful bluffs, which all make for an excellent place to hike. Be aware that it is not an “off the beaten path” choice, but for hikers just getting started, or those who don’t mind being around other people, this state park is a great place to spend some time.

3.) Sturgeon Falls Trail, Michigan

Sturgeon Falls is a waterfall located in Ottawa National Forest, near Sidnaw, Michigan. The trail follows the Sturgeon River and is open year-round. There are nearly two hundred trails of various difficulties available for hikers to choose from in Ottawa National Forest, but the one-mile trail to Sturgeon Falls is fairly easy, and hikable for anyone. And when you reach the end, you are rewarded with a beautiful view of the 350-foot high waterfall.

4.) Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Hocking Hills State Park is southeast of Ohio’s capital city, Columbus, and is made up of seven unique hiking regions, including Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Conkle’s Hollow, and Cantwell Cliffs. Ash Cave is a beautiful trail to hike, as it ends at what Hocking Hills claims to be the park’s best feature: a stunning, 700-foot long cave. At Hocking Hills, hikers will see waterfalls, incredible rock formations, wildflowers, caves, bridges, and so much more that is sure to make their experience worthwhile.

5.) Cowles Bog Trail, Indiana

Looking to combine a beach day with a hiking trip? Indiana Dunes National Park can do just that, and the park’s Cowles Bog Trail brings together even more variety. Although Cowles Bog Trail is just under five miles in length, it showcases beaches, marshes, swamps, bodies of water, and so many plants and flowers. If you are looking for a shorter, less time-consuming trail, but are still interested in Indiana Dunes National Park, Dune Ridge Trail and Great Marsh Trail are much shorter, but still have interesting views of the park’s diverse habitats.

6.) Eagle Mountain Trail, Minnesota

A large part of the Eagle Mountain Trail falls within the Boundary Waters Canoe Area in northeastern Minnesota, which, as the name implies, is on the Minnesota-Canada border. Hiking anywhere in the Boundary Waters is going to be difficult, since the area is very remote, and hikers will be venturing into the wilderness. Eagle Mountain Trail is seven miles, round trip, but leads to Eagle Mountain, the highest point in Minnesota, and those who brave the trail are rewarded with some incredible views.

7.) Starved Rock State Park, Illinois

About an hour and a half southwest of the bustling metropolis of Chicago lies Starved Rock State Park, a beautiful park brimming with thirteen miles of serene hiking trails. The park is also home to nearly twenty canyons and is most well known for its canyons of sandstone. Several of the canyons have waterfalls, and there is a wide variety of animals and plants to admire, as well. It’s no wonder this park receives over two million visitors every year.

8.) Theodore Roosevelt National Park, North Dakota

We’ve all heard of Yosemite National Park, and the Grand Canyon, but have you heard of North Dakota’s sole national park? Theodore Roosevelt National Park has trails that range from as short as ten minutes to complete, to as long as twelve hours, so it’s the perfect hiking place for people of all ages and experience. The park is home to canyons, forests, sagebrush fields, wilderness, buttes, and even prairie dog towns! The next time you’re looking for a beautiful, unique place to hike, don’t discount the Midwest! There are so many beautiful parks and trails to explore.