Best Winter Hikes in the QCA for Families


Just because it’s cold – doesn’t mean we can’t still get outside and explore. In fact, winter is a beautiful time of the year to get out and go for a hike. Bundle up and check out one of the hiking trails below and afterward – go ahead and grab yourself a hot chocolate!

*click on locations to view the trail map

Starved Rock State Park

One Lodge Ln, Oglesby, IL 61348

Open year-round, explore 13 miles of the majestic bluffs and canyons in the park’s primary attraction. You can also go on a narrated trolley ride to see the winter wildlife in their natural habitat! (Weekends only in Jan – Mar)

Loud Thunder Forest Preserve

19408 Loud Thunder Rd, Illinois City, IL 61259

Spend an hour, a day, or an entire weekend at Loud Thunder. The Illinois Great River Road National Scenic Byway winds through the picturesque landscapes of the Loud Thunder Forest Preserve – perfect for a winter wonderland hike.

Wildcat Den State Park

1884 Wildcat Den Rd, Muscatine, IA 52761

As one of the most photographed Iowa state parks, visitors will find both historical and natural treasures to explore. There are several diverse trails at Wildcat Den, offering fascinating views of sandstone bluffs and natural formations such as “Steamboat Rock,” and the “Devil’s Punch Bowl.”

Sylvan Island

58 2nd St, Moline, IL 61265 

Because Sylvan Island is a fairly flat crushed limestone, walking/running makes it ideal for the cold winter months. Paths circle the island and dirt mountain biking trails weave throughout the island for multiple ability levels.

Black Hawk State Historic Site

1510 46th Ave, Rock Island, IL 61201

Open year-round from sunrise to 10 P.M. – there are 208 acres of public use areas, prairie, and a nature preserve with miles of marked hiking trails. As well as restrooms located throughout the park, and shelters with fireplaces!

Morrison Rockwood State Park

18750 Lake Rd, Morrison, IL 61270

A 3.5-mile nature trail is marked for hikers, and it offers many scenic views of the lake as it winds through the park. Winter sports are also popular. Ice fishing and ice skating are permitted on Lake Carlton when ice conditions permit. 14 miles of cross-country ski trails will thrill skiing enthusiasts. The rolling hills of the park make great sledding paths if the snow cooperates!

Wapsipinicon State Park

21301 Co Rd E34, Anamosa, IA 52205

Hike more than 3 miles of multi-use trails, winding through wooded areas and open grass prairies. The trails to Horse Thief Cave and Ice Cave lead to the recreation area, and the other trail meanders to Dutch Creek. These multi-use trails are also open to cross-country skiing and snowmobiling in the winter.

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Winter in the QCA

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