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Trails and Ales

Apr 07, 2020 Eat & Drink

Food and drinks on a table

Fresh air and fresh brews abound in equal measure in the historic stretch from suburban Chicago to Starved Rock State Park.

Go play outside, then relax with a drink nearby.

Tacos and chips on a plate A waterfall with a waterhole below, Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby

Matthiessen State Park, Oglesby

Wear sturdy footwear for scrambling up and down hundreds of steps to explore the drippy gorges, creeks and falls of this park, rich in geologic strata. Nine miles of marked mountain bike trails also snake through the woods. 

13 MILES TO... 

Tangled Roots Brewing Company, Ottawa

Find a farm-to-foam experience at the industrial-chic taproom, featuring gleaming copper brew kettles. Lagers and ales include River Raptor Pale Ale, a hoppy homage to the eagles that live in the area.

Two people looking up at the large rock surrounding

Starved Rock State Park, Oglesby

Along 13 miles of (extremely popular) trails, find layered canyons and towering tree lines. Don’t let a little rain deter you—the park’s dozen-plus waterfalls flow best after storms or in spring when snow is melting.

14 MILES TO...

Red Dog Grill, Ottawa

On a patio overlooking an Illinois River marina, sample sips from local Radium City Brewing, specializing in pale ales. If you need to cool off, the soaring-ceilinged bar offers the same serene views. Snack on a warm pretzel with beer cheese dip.

A person walking down a path through a grass field at sunset

Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie, Wilmington

Paths great for hiking and biking wind through this former U.S. Army arsenal now being restored to a native prairie. You might spot the area’s bison herd. Ask at the visitors center for a hint at where the creatures have been spotted. 


Hickory Creek Brewing Company, New Lenox

A retired engineer brought his brewing hobby out of an old milk house and into a storefront in this far-south Chicago suburb. 

A sign on a brick building

Hidden Oaks Conservation Area, Bolingbrook

Trails throughout this 15-acre nature sanctuary wind past a trout pond (an on-site shop sells licenses and bait), beehives, wildflowers, sculptures and more. If you need a rest, chill on 
the nature center’s rooftop deck.

10 MILES TO...

Pollyanna Brewing Company, Lemont

Live events—like music bingo, trivia and food-truck rallies—energize most summer nights. Taste The Full Lemonty, a crisp golden ale, and tour the brewery to see experiments
with local fruits and spices.

Boat on water with a bridge in the background

I&M Canal Trail

This state trail runs for 96 miles along the historic Illinois and Michigan Canal towpath, with sections alternately paved or groomed with crushed limestone. The flat, easy 11 miles between Lockport and Joliet take you past the Joliet Iron Works Historic Site.

11 MILES TO...

Elder Brewing Company, Joliet

The cozy downtown spot offers free popcorn and a 1982 Millipede arcade game (also free) to enjoy with Uncle Jack’s Gris Gris, an IPA, or Poly’s Revenge, an American pale ale. Check out bands in the new music room.

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