Enjoy Fall Hiking In Clinton County IL

Updated September 2022.

Autumn’s cooler weather is tailor-made for getting outdoors, and we’re sure you’ll enjoy fall hiking in Clinton County, IL. With the beauty of the changing natural tapestry of colors overhead and the crunch of fallen leaves underfoot, you’ve got the makings for a beautiful weekend activity. Where are the best hiking trails in the county?  Here are some of our favorite spots!

Eldon Hazlet State Park

20100 Hazlet Park Rd, Carlyle IL

The Eldon Hazlet State Recreational Area is a 3,000-acre site on Lake Carlyle’s western shore, the largest artificial lake in Illinois. It is 3 miles north of Carlyle and 2 miles east of IL Rte 127 in Clinton County. The area is well known for its camping facilities, and lakeside cottages if you want to extend your stay. There are also areas for fishing, hunting, birding, picnicking, and hiking.

Eldon Hazlet State Park has more than 9 miles of hiking trails if you plan to spend the day hiking. There are many shorter loops that you can string together for a more extended experience. All routes are closed during pheasant hunting season (generally November through January).


The most popular trail is the Cherokee Trail, which is a 2.1-mile loop. It is gorgeous in the fall as it traverses an oak and hickory forest. You may take your dog, on a leash, for this easy-rated hike. There are four footbridges, and a portion is along the shoreline. One part of the trail passes by a pre-Civil war cemetery of Clinton County’s oldest settlers.


Named in honor of the Mississippian Native Americans who lived in the Kaskaskia River Valley from A.D. 900- 1300, the trail rates easy to moderate and extends for 2.5 miles. You will view many different types of wildlife habitats and some good birding opportunities.


This 1.5-mile trail is wheelchair accessible and winds through a restored prairie area and around the Homer Guthrie Fishing Pond. The pond is open for bank fishing.


Access to this 1-mile trail is either from the parking lot area of the Lakeside Cottages or the Cherokee Trail parking lot. If you are starting at the cottage trailhead, the trail runs along a high ridge overlooking the lake, then passes through the Burnside Cemetery (the same as that section of the Cherokee Trail). This trail is also dog friendly (must be leashed).


The .75-mile trail was developed in 1996 as part of the requirements for a local Boy Scout to earn his Eagle Scout ranking. It is an easy, level hike located near the Illini Trail Campground.


The Wetland Trails winds through an area of permanent wetlands with great opportunities for observing shorebirds, waterfowl, and wading birds. The Bluestem Trail also covers an area of prairie restoration with over 50 types of native plants and interpretive signs identifying plants. These trails are each a half mile in length and wheelchair accessible.

Carlyle Lake Multi-Use Trail

Dam West Recreation Area, Carlyle Lake

The Carlyle Lake Multi-use Trail connects the city of Carlyle to Carlyle Lake. It is 10.3 miles long and is open to hikers, bikers, and skaters. Some interpretive stands along the walk describe the Carlyle Lake Dam, General Dean Bridge, Goshen Trail, and restored prairie and wetland areas. The project was a collaboration between the City of Carlyle and the Army Corps of Engineers.

The trail is a combination of asphalt, concrete, and crushed rock. The Kaskaskia River Walk is a fun highlight of the trail and a great little hike on its own. This 1.3-mile section is located below the Carlyle Lake Main Dam and follows along the Kaskaskia River. A pedestrian bridge links the east and west sides of the river. Another historical part of this walk is the General Dean Suspension Bridge, created in 1859 and named after a resident who served in the Korean War. The bridge is parallel to the Goshen Trail, which tracks the routes of bison and Native Americans.

Hidden Lake Winery

10580 Wellen Rd, Aviston

Situated on a rural lake outside of Aviston, visitors to Hidden Lake Winery can enjoy a pleasant walk on the easy half-mile path around the lake, then head back for a glass of wine in the tasting room or out on the porch. Take care as you walk through the woods of the Silent Forest. There are many legends about bootleggers hiding their stills here during prohibition and Native American spirits who continue to roam the area.

So whether you are up for a more strenuous hike or just an easy walk, there are plenty of choices! Come and enjoy fall hiking in Clinton County, IL, along with all the other fun fall attractions, like pumpkin picking and corn mazes.




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