Love spending time with the family and getting your workout on? Take them to Swallow Cliff Woods! I know what you’re thinking: Going up the stairs? Fun for kids? Well, YES! Not only will they get exercise in but my kids had such a fun time challenging themselves.

About Swallow Cliff

Originally constructed in 1930, the stairs at Swallow Cliff were built by the Civilian Conservation Corps to lead up to the former 100-foot toboggan run. Although the toboggan run is no longer there, the stairs are still a popular way to get exercise.

GETTING STARTED AT Swallow Cliff Woods

If you don’t get here early enough, parking can be hard. Rest assure, there is usually a fast turnaround time with people leaving constantly.

Tip: If you don’t have the patience to wait, head to Little Red Schoolhouse for an easy hike.

Climb the stairs

After a few minutes waiting for parking, we were ready to tackle the stairs. Let me tell you, those 125 steps up are no joke! There is a halfway point if you’d like to cross and go back down, but if you are fit (and brave enough) continue up to the top. Take a breather and reward yourself with the views. If you see groups of rocks about, don’t touch it as people use it to keep track of the number of rounds they’ve made. If you’re so inclined, another alternative is the abacus. After you’re semi-rested, make your way down 168 stairs to the bottom. Definitely much easier! Rinse and repeat.

CONTINUE to Hike or Work Out

Interested in running or hiking? Swallow Cliff has trails too. After climbing to the top of the stairs, veer left to find the trail. There are also pull up bars for an additional challenge.

Warning: Part of the trail is also used for horseback so watch your footing!

TIPS TO ENJOY Swallow Cliff Woods

  • Get there early for parking.
  • They have real bathrooms.
  • Need a snack…or a smoothie? They have a little cafe that sells food.
  • Want to hike more? Visit Little Red Schoolhouse for a nature center, easy trails, and a fun outdoor area.
  • When you’re done hiking, treat yourself ice cream at Plush Horse Ice Cream.


FINAL THOUGHTS of Swallow Cliff Woods

For a strenuous, yet rewarding experience take the family to Swallow Cliff Woods. My kids are hooked and can’t wait to return!


Address: Calument Sag Rd./Rte 83, Cook County, IL