LaSalle Canyon is located within Starved Rock State Park in Peru, Illinois
The most iconic photo associated with Starved Rock State Park is not at the Starved Rock lookout, but actually here at LaSalle Canyon. You’ve got to see this natural treasure right in the heart of Illinois.
Whereas many of the waterfalls within this park run dry at some point in the year, the LaSalle Canyon waterfall has continuous flow. This may mean only a trickle of water, but it is still a stunning landscape.
Free. There is no fee to visit this state park or use the lot.
Duration to Hike to LaSalle Canyon
It should be about a 55-60 minute round trip hike to and from the waterfall from Parkman’s Plain parking lot, but with kids it took us about 45 minutes each way.
We also spent about 30 minutes at the base of the waterfall letting the kids splash about, splashing photos, and waiting our turn to walk behind the waterfall.
Closest Parking to LaSalle Canyon
It will take much longer to reach the Canyon if you park and start from the Visitor’s Center. Instead, park and begin at the Parkman’s Plain parking lot and trail head. There are 80 parking spots which, at peak times, do fill to capacity.
Follow the trail named River Trail which will veer to the left once you reach the river. After descending about 145 steps, you’ll pass several picturesque canyons and bridges on your hike before following the river up into the LaSalle Canyon.
Additional tips for your visit to LaSalle Canyon:
- Bring a spare set of clothes and light towel if you plan to swim/wade in the water
- Pack bug spray
- Apply sunscreen, even though much of the trail is shaded
- Bring snacks and water, you might stay for the view longer than you expect
- Wear hiking shoes for slippery, uneven, and muddy sections of the hike
- A drone would get great shots here, don’t forget to pack it!
- Always pack out any trash you bring into the park
- If you use the Porta Potty at the parking lot, bring your own hand sanitizer and toilet paper
- LaSalle Canyon is an excellent stop on a road trip through Illinois. We stopped to burn off some energy on the way to St. Louis. (10 Best Places to Take Kids in St. Louis)
Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center
If you decide to make a stop at the visitor center, it is open daily April – November from 9-4. Check online for winter hours which vary.
It is a good idea to stop in the visitor center or check online for any trail closures.
General Tips for Hiking with Kids
I’ll be the first to admit, hiking with kids is not easy. With two littles in tow, I don’t get the same enjoyment I used to with foregone quiet, leisurely, introspective strolls through the woods. I remind myself though, I’m instilling a love for nature in them that will help all of us achieve that a few years from now.
Here are some of our favorite tips to make hikes with kids a bit less chaotic:
🥾 Have your child carry a small backpack with their own water and snacks. It will help you later if they’re used to this from a young age.
🥾Stop often for snacks. Give yourself twice as long as the average hike duration.
🥾 Distract them with songs and I spy
🥾 Pause for play. Stack rocks. Dig in the mud with small trucks.
🥾 Stop to inspect. Nurture their powers of observation.
🥾 Estimate that a child can walk about 1/2 mile multiplied by their age.
🥾 Make sure they have comfortable shoes
🥾 A moderate terrain might be more engaging for your child than a completely flat trail
🥾 Celebrate your accomplishment at the end with a special treat or privilege