Chicago, the bustling city known for its towering skyscrapers and vibrant nightlife, may not seem like the ideal destination for outdoor enthusiasts. However, hidden within this concrete jungle lies a secret world of breathtaking trails and stunning landscapes just waiting to be explored. If you’re looking to escape the hustle and bustle of city life, dive into the wild and wonderful world of Chicago hiking groups. Whether you’re a seasoned trekker or a novice adventurer, these groups offer the perfect opportunity to connect with nature, make new friends, and discover the hidden gems scattered throughout the Windy City. Lace up your hiking boots and get ready to embark on the adventure of a lifetime!
Top 11 Chicago Hiking Groups
Chicago Hiking, Outdoors, & Social Group
With over 12,000 members, this group is one of the largest hiking groups in Chicago. They organize regular hiking trips to different trails within and outside the city, ranging from easy to moderate difficulty level. Apart from hiking, they also have social events such as happy hours, camping trips, and bonfires which provide an opportunity for members to connect and make new friends with similar interests. The group also has a strong focus on environmental conservation and often takes part in volunteering activities such as trail cleanups.
Chicago Meetup Adventure Club
This group is perfect for hikers looking for more challenging and adventurous trails. With over 6,000 members, they organize hiking trips to some of the most scenic and remote locations in the Midwest. The group also offers a variety of other outdoor activities such as backpacking, kayaking, and rock climbing. They have a strong emphasis on safety and provide training for beginners to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience for all members.
Chicagoland 20’s & 30’s Hiking + Outdoors Meetup
This group is geared towards young adults in their 20s and 30s who are looking to explore the great outdoors. With over 4,000 members, they organize hiking trips to nearby forests, parks, and nature preserves. The group also offers other outdoor activities such as camping, skiing, and snowshoeing during the winter months. They have a friendly and welcoming atmosphere, making it a great place for beginners to start their hiking journey.
Chicago Hiking, Outdoors & Adventure
This group is ideal for hikers of all levels looking to explore new trails and meet new people. With over 3,000 members, they organize hiking trips to various locations within a few hours’ drive from the city. The group also offers other outdoor activities such as backpacking, canoeing, and snowboarding. They have a diverse membership base, making it a great place to connect with people of different backgrounds and interests.
Outdoor Afro Chicago & NW Indiana
This group is focused on promoting diversity and inclusion in the outdoor community. With over 1,000 members, they organize hiking trips to local parks and trails as well as social events that celebrate African American culture and history. The group also partners with other organizations to provide educational programs and workshops related to environmental conservation and outdoor recreation.
Urban Nature Walks (Chicago)
This group offers a unique perspective on hiking by exploring the natural and urban landscapes of Chicago. With over 500 members, they organize walking tours through different neighborhoods, parks, and green spaces in the city. The group also has a strong focus on sustainability and often incorporates educational components into their walks, such as learning about native plant species or sustainable gardening practices.
Windy City Hikers Meetup Group
This group is perfect for hikers looking for a more relaxed and social experience. With over 300 members, they organize hiking trips to local parks and trails followed by social events such as picnics or brunch. The group also offers other outdoor activities like kayaking, biking, and snowshoeing during the winter months. They have a laid-back atmosphere, making it a great place to meet new people and enjoy the outdoors.
Chicago Botanic Garden Hiking Group
For nature lovers and plant enthusiasts, this group offers unique hiking experiences through the beautiful trails of the Chicago Botanic Garden. With over 200 members, they organize educational hikes led by botanists to learn about different plants, flowers, and trees in the garden. The group also hosts workshops and events related to gardening, conservation, and sustainability. It’s a great way to connect with nature and learn more about the local flora in Chicago.
Explorer Chicks of Chicago
This group is designed specifically for women who love adventure and the great outdoors. With over 100 members, they organize hiking trips to various locations within a few hours’ drive from Chicago as well as other outdoor activities like rafting, ziplining, and camping. The group also has a strong focus on empowering women in the outdoors and offers workshops and educational programs related to women’s health, safety, and leadership. It’s a great community for female hikers to connect, learn, and explore together. So whether you’re an experienced hiker or just starting out, there is a Chicago hiking group for everyone.
The Chicago Backpackers Meetup Group
This group is perfect for hikers looking to push their limits and go on multi-day backpacking trips. With over 10,000 members, they organize overnight and multi-day hikes in various national parks, forests, and wilderness areas. The group also offers workshops and training sessions for beginner backpackers to learn essential skills such as navigation, campsite selection, and gear selection. It’s a great way to challenge yourself and explore some of the most beautiful and remote areas in the country.
NOW Outdoors Wilderness Adventure Group: Chicago
This group offers a unique combination of adrenaline-pumping adventures and outdoor exploration. With over 7,000 members, they organize hiking trips to nearby state parks and nature reserves as well as other high-intensity activities such as rock climbing, whitewater rafting, and skydiving. The group also has a strong focus on social events, organizing happy hours, movie nights, and game nights for members to connect and bond over their love for the outdoors. It’s a great way to get your heart racing and make new friends at the same time .
Why should you join a Chicago hiking group?
While it can be tempting to go on a solo hike and immerse yourself in solitude, joining a hiking group in the vibrant city of Chicago can offer numerous benefits. Research has consistently shown that being part of a close-knit group or community can have profound positive effects on both physical and mental well-being.
By joining a hiking group in Chicago, you not only get to explore the beautiful trails and natural wonders of the area but also have the opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals who share your passion for outdoor adventures. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking to step into the world of hiking, being part of a group can provide valuable guidance, encouragement, and a platform for learning from others’ experiences.
Pushing Your Limits
Hiking with a group can also push you to challenge yourself and reach new heights. The camaraderie and support of fellow hikers can inspire you to conquer more difficult trails and explore new techniques. By being part of a group, you not only gain motivation but also a sense of accountability – knowing that everyone else is taking on the challenge encourages you to do the same. Together, you can embark on thrilling adventures, discover hidden gems, and create lasting memories amidst nature’s breathtaking landscapes.
Safety in Numbers
Exploring the great outdoors can be an incredibly exciting and rewarding adventure. However, it’s crucial to prioritize safety to ensure a positive experience. By joining a reputable hiking group in Chicago, you’ll not only have the opportunity to immerse yourself in the beauty of nature but also benefit from the support and guidance of experienced hikers who possess extensive knowledge of the area. They will be able to provide invaluable insights on the best trails to explore, share tips and tricks for navigating tricky terrain, and even offer first aid assistance if needed. Additionally, hiking in a group ensures that everyone stays together, fostering a sense of camaraderie and creating lasting memories. So, get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey, surrounded by like-minded individuals who share your passion for outdoor exploration!
Shared Views and Experiences
When you go hiking with a group, you not only get to enjoy the great outdoors but also have the chance to meet like-minded individuals who share your passion for adventure. Building connections and fostering a sense of belonging within a hiking community can result in lifelong friendships and a strong support network. Moreover, exploring nature alongside others allows for shared moments of awe and appreciation, as you witness breathtaking views and create unforgettable memories together. So, join a hiking group and embark on an incredible journey of camaraderie and shared experiences amidst the beauty of the natural world!
New Perspectives and Learning Opportunities
Being part of a hiking group means you’ll have the chance to learn from others and gain new perspectives. From different techniques and tips for hiking, to knowledge about the local flora and fauna, you can broaden your horizons and expand your outdoor skills. Additionally, many hiking groups also participate in educational activities such as trail maintenance and conservation efforts, providing a chance to give back to the community and learn more about environmental issues.
Best Hiking Trails Around Chicago
The Bloomingdale Trail, also known as The 606, is an elevated hiking and biking trail located on the northwest side of Chicago. This 2.7-mile trail was once a former railroad line and has been transformed into a beautiful nature oasis in the heart of the city.
The Bloomingdale Trail offers stunning views of the city, with sections that wind through vibrant neighborhoods and green spaces. It’s a popular spot for walkers, runners, and bikers alike, offering a peaceful escape from the busy streets below.
The trail is also lined with beautiful public art installations, making it not only a great place to exercise but also a perfect spot for art lovers. Plus, with several access points throughout the city, it’s easy to hop on and off the trail at your convenience.
Whether you’re looking for a leisurely stroll or a challenging bike ride, the Bloomingdale Trail has something for everyone. And after your hike, make sure to stop by one of the nearby local restaurants or cafes for a bite to eat.
Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve
Located just 20 miles southwest of Chicago, Waterfall Glen Forest Preserve offers over 11 miles of gorgeous hiking trails. The highlight of this preserve is the stunning waterfall that can be found along the Des Plaines River.
The preserve also features a variety of landscapes, from prairies to oak woodlands, making it a diverse and exciting place to explore. Visitors can spot wildlife such as deer, foxes, and many species of birds while wandering through the trails.
With its peaceful surroundings and well-maintained trails, Waterfall Glen is a popular destination for hikers of all levels. And if you’re feeling adventurous, there are also opportunities for mountain biking and horseback riding within the preserve.
Indiana Dunes National Park
Just an hour’s drive from Chicago, Indiana Dunes National Park offers a unique hiking experience with its beautiful sandy beaches and dunes. With over 15,000 acres of diverse habitats, this park is home to an array of plants and animals.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy swimming, fishing, and birdwatching at Indiana Dunes. And with its stunning views of Lake Michigan, this national park offers a refreshing escape from the city hustle and bustle.
Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie
Located an hour and a half south of Chicago, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie is the largest grassland restoration in the country. This 19,000-acre preserve offers over 30 miles of hiking trails through prairies, woodlands, and wetlands.
The highlight of this preserve is the Bison Trail, which takes hikers through areas where bison roam freely. Visitors can also spot other wildlife such as deer, foxes, and a variety of bird species.
In addition to hiking, Midewin National Tallgrass Prairie offers opportunities for camping, fishing, and picnicking. And with its tranquil surroundings and stunning views, it’s the perfect place to escape from the city and reconnect with nature.
Kankakee River State Park
Located about 60 miles south of Chicago, Kankakee River State Park offers over 11 miles of hiking trails along the scenic Kankakee River. Hikers can choose from a variety of trail options, including easy flat paths and more challenging hilly routes.
The park also features stunning views of the river, as well as diverse plant and animal life. Visitors can spot bald eagles, river otters, and a variety of bird species while exploring the trails.
In addition to hiking, Kankakee River State Park also offers opportunities for canoeing, fishing, and camping. And with its peaceful atmosphere and beautiful surroundings, it’s a great place to unwind and enjoy nature.
Located just 25 miles west of Chicago, Morton Arboretum is a must-visit for nature lovers and hikers. This 1,700-acre living museum features over 16 miles of hiking trails through beautiful gardens, forests, and prairies.
Visitors can explore the arboretum’s diverse plant collections, including rare and endangered species. The Children’s Garden is also a popular spot for families, with interactive exhibits and activities for kids.
In addition to hiking, Morton Arboretum offers opportunities for birdwatching, horseback riding, and nature photography. And with its stunning landscapes and peaceful surroundings, it’s the perfect place to escape from the city and connect with nature.
Matthiessen State Park
Located about two hours southwest of Chicago, Matthiessen State Park offers some of the most scenic hiking trails in Illinois. The park’s highlight is the stunning canyon carved by the Vermilion River, which can be seen from several lookout points along the trails.
Visitors can also explore caves and waterfalls while hiking through the park’s diverse landscapes. And with its dense forests and peaceful streams, Matthiessen State Park offers a tranquil escape from the city.
In addition to hiking, visitors can also enjoy picnicking, fishing, and camping at the park. And with its breathtaking views and unique geological formations, it’s no wonder why this state park is a must-visit for hikers in Illinois .
What is the famous trail in Chicago?
The famous trail in Chicago, affectionately known as the Lakefront Trail, is a picturesque pathway that spans an impressive 18 miles along the majestic shores of Lake Michigan. As you embark on this scenic journey, you’ll be treated to breathtaking views of the iconic city skyline, a stunning backdrop that perfectly complements the tranquil waters. Along the way, the trail offers access to numerous parks, inviting beaches, and captivating attractions, ensuring that every step you take is filled with awe-inspiring beauty and endless possibilities for exploration and relaxation.
What can I do on the Lakefront Trail?
There are countless activities you can enjoy on the beautiful Lakefront Trail. Whether you prefer a refreshing run to kickstart your day, a leisurely walk to soak in the breathtaking views, or a thrilling bike ride along the picturesque path, the options are endless. Feel the gentle breeze off the water as you explore the designated fishing spots, perfect for casting a line and reconnecting with nature. If you’re looking for a relaxing afternoon, find a cozy spot to picnic with family and friends, surrounded by the tranquil ambiance of the lake. For the sports enthusiasts, there are well-maintained areas for volleyball and basketball, where you can engage in friendly matches and embrace the vibrant energy of the trail. The Lakefront Trail offers a myriad of experiences, catering to every interest and creating lasting memories for all who venture along its shores.
Is the Lakefront Trail suitable for all ages?
Yes, the Lakefront Trail is suitable for people of all ages. It has a paved surface that is easy to navigate and there are rest areas with benches along the way. However, parents should keep an eye on their children as some parts of the trail can get busy with cyclists and runners.
Useful Video: Best hikes near Chicago
So, join Chicago hiking groups, if you haven’t already, and make new friends while exploring the beautiful natural areas of Chicago. Remember to always follow hiking etiquette, and to be respectful of nature. You can also volunteer with local conservation organizations to help preserve these precious habitats for future generations. Also, don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone and try new trails and activities. Whether it’s a challenging hike or a leisurely stroll, the benefits of hiking are numerous and can greatly improve your physical and mental well-being. So, grab your backpack, put on your hiking shoes, and go explore the many amazing trails that Chicago has to offer!