Canyons, streams, prairie, and forest combine to delight visitors at Matthiessen State Park. Located in central LaSalle County, approximately 4 miles south of Utica and 3 miles east of Oglesby, Matthiessen is a paradise for those interested in geology, as well as recreation. Visitors can expect to see beautiful rock formations in addition to unusual and abundant vegetation and wildlife. All of this, along with park and picnic facilities, make Matthiessen State Park a popular choice for an outing.
Visitors to Matthiessen State Park will delight at the abundance of plant and animal life. The park is alive with common and uncommon species of flora and fauna. The canyon provides a perfect habitat for many mosses and liverworts which thrive on the damp, shady walls.
The many unusual and beautiful rock formations make a trip to Matthiessen State Park an educational, as well as a fun, experience. Exposed sandstone can be seen throughout. The main canyon, consisting of the Upper and Lower Dells, provides an unusual and interesting walking tour. The Upper Dell begins at Deer Park Lake and continues to Cascade Falls, where the canyon drops 45 feet and the Lower Dell begins. The canyon, formed by water erosion, is approximately 1 mile long, from Deer Park Lake to the Vermilion River. Visitors may observe ground water seeping out along the sandstone of the canyon walls. Minerals carried in solution in the ground water contribute to the beautiful coloring of the rocks.
Matthiessen State Park has 5 miles of well-marked, well-surfaced hiking trails for a relaxing walk or a vigorous hike. Large trail maps are located at all major trail intersections so visitors can choose a variety of routes. The upper area and bluff tops are easy hiking paths for the novice, but the trails into the interiors of the two dells may be difficult to negotiate, particularly during spring and early summer. Hikers must stay on marked trails, as steep cliffs and deep canyons can be dangerous. Hikers will marvel at the plant and animal life along the trails, and have an unparalleled view of geological wonders as they travel through the park.