Do you love chasing waterfalls? I’ve always heard about South Elgin’s secret waterfall, Blackhawk Waterfall, (although quite honestly not so secret anymore) and since we were in the area I thought it would be the perfect time to go find it. So what’s the first thing we did once we came back from spring break? Yes, we continued our #52HikeChallenge at Jon J. Duerr Forest Preserve in search of the secret waterfall.

Getting started

After downloading the map, I saw two options to get to the waterfall. We could park at the parking lot closest to the waterfall located at McLean and Rt. 31 or we could actually hike to it. We chose the latter option, of course. What’s neat about this forest preserve is that it is the end of the line for the trolley stop. We were lucky to see the train!

Get hiking

After parking, we continued south on the paved River Bend Regional Bike trail. But first we enjoyed the Fox River views. If you have the time, you can hang out here. But, we were chasing waterfalls, so off we went! We continued on for about a little over a mile.

Admiring the Fox River views

Finding the secret waterfall

All of a sudden we heard the sounds of the waterfall. It will be on the right. If you cross the bridge, you’ve gone too far. Since it was early spring and the trees were still bare, we easily spotted it. Plus, we could hear people.

Enjoying the secret waterfall

This 8 foot waterfall was a bit larger than I expected. What a wonderful sight!

Hiking back

We could have crossed the bridge and continued on the bike path but with a time restraint (and someone needed to go potty) we just turned back on the trail. Wanting to change it up a little, we veered left when we saw a fork on the trail. This is the Inner Loop Trail which gives you the option to get back on the bike trail. A nice change!


  • If you’re short on time, you can park at the lot at the corner of Rt. 31 and McLean. Follow the path to the sounds of the waterfall.
  • Bring the kids’ bikes or scooters since there is a nice paved path. Just watch out for bikers!
  • Check out the large wood carved statue of Black Hawk, a Sauk leader and namesake for the Black Hawk War of 1832,  located at the preserve’s entrance.
  • Two unknown soldiers of General Scott’s Army were buried here although I couldn’t find the gravestones.

While You’re Here

  • The super fun SEBA park is located nearby.
  • Go on an art and sculpture walk and explore Downtown Elgin. Tons of fun!

Nitty Gritty:

Location: 35W003 Route 31, South Elgin, IL
Cost: Free
Parking:  Plenty of parking
Crowded:  We hiked on a Saturday and found it a little busy