Saturday ยท July 8, 2023
Illinois: Top Horse Trails | July 2023
Author: Admin

Illinois may not be the first state that comes to mind when thinking about equestrian trails, but this midwestern state surprises with its diverse landscapes and hidden gems for horseback riding enthusiasts. From picturesque forests and rolling hills to scenic lakeshores, Illinois offers a variety of equestrian trails that showcase the natural beauty of the region. If you're a horse lover looking to explore Illinois on horseback, here are some of the top equestrian trails the state has to offer.


1. Moraine View State Park, LeRoy:

Located east of Bloomington, Moraine View State Park boasts over 17 miles of well-maintained equestrian trails. These trails wind through a mix of prairies, forests, and Moraine Hills, providing riders with stunning scenic views. With various loops and options to choose from, riders of all skill levels can enjoy the trails. The park also offers horse rentals for those without their own steed.


2. Shawnee National Forest, Southern Illinois:

For a more rugged and adventurous experience, head to the Shawnee National Forest in Southern Illinois. With over 400 miles of trails, including multi-use and equestrian-specific trails, there's no shortage of options to explore. The River to River Trail, stretching 160 miles, is particularly popular for equestrians. Riders can traverse through stunning rock formations, densely wooded areas, and have the opportunity to camp alongside their horses.


3. Matthiessen State Park, Utica:

Nestled in the heart of Starved Rock Country, Matthiessen State Park is known for its captivating canyons and cascading waterfalls. While the park primarily caters to hikers, it also offers a designated equestrian trail system. The trails wind through picturesque prairies, woodlands, and unique rock formations, providing a memorable riding experience. Keep in mind that the equestrian trails are open from March through November only.


4. Forest Preserves of Cook County:

Contrary to popular belief, you don't have to venture beyond the city limits of Chicago for equestrian trails. The Forest Preserves of Cook County, located within the greater Chicago area, offers several equestrian-friendly trails. The Dan Ryan Woods Trail, Palos Trail System, and Cook County Forest Preserve Trail are just a few examples of the horse-friendly opportunities available in this urban oasis. These trails enable riders to escape the city hustle and enjoy nature with their equine companions.


5. Rock Cut State Park, Loves Park:

Situated near Rockford, Rock Cut State Park provides a great getaway for equestrians in northern Illinois. The park encompasses miles of equestrian trails that meander through wooded areas, prairies, and offer scenic views of the sparkling Pierce Lake. Riders can also take advantage of the equestrian campground, allowing for overnight stays and extended riding adventures.


Before hitting the trails, it's important to check each park's specific regulations regarding equestrian use, including any permits needed or seasonal restrictions. Additionally, riders should ensure their horses are in good health, properly shod, and well-prepared for the trail conditions they may encounter.


Whether you're a local horse enthusiast or visiting Illinois for an equestrian adventure, these top equestrian trails offer something for everyone. From southern Illinois' Shawnee National Forest to the Forest Preserves of Cook County in the Greater Chicago area, these trails showcase the natural beauty and diverse landscapes Illinois has to offer. Saddle up and embark on a new riding adventure as you explore the equestrian trails of Illinois.