Indian Head

Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois

Trip Date: Saturday, June 1st, 2019
Last Updated: Wednesday, August 14th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.75 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain A few hills
Best Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No


Hike Summary

Much like the nearby Sentinel Trail, this hike to the Indian Head allows you to escape the crowds on all the drive-up overlooks and enjoy some Mississippi River views in peace and solitude. From the end of the parking area, walk northwest. As evidenced by the overgrown trail pictured below, it's unlikely you'll see many others while on this hike. Along this quick forested jaunt, you'll probably have to hop over a few downed trees.

The faint trail through the high grass

The faint trail through the high grass

The trail forms a slight backwards S-curve and doesn't intersect with any other trails. There's not much to look at until you reach the end, where, as pictured below, you'll find the interesting Indian Head rock formation and sweeping views of blufflands of the Driftless Area -- a part of Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois that wasn't eroded to flat plains during the last ice age. Though it might be tempting to try and bridge the gap between the trail and the Indian Head, it's wider than you can jump and a long way to the bottom.
The Indian Head with a shrub on top

The Indian Head with a shrub on top

There's not much to this hike, but it's still one of the better trails in Mississippi Palisades State Park! Connect with me using the social media links below and share your adventures!

Important Information

Dogs are allowed on leash. This hike is very family-friendly with its short distance and beautiful views at the end. You can hike in the three warm seasons and possibly during the winter; some of the trails in the park are used for cross country skiing, but the park's website does not specify which trails nor if hiking is allowed on ski trails. Since this overlook requires a hike and you can't simply drive to it, you'll avoid most of the crowds found at the other viewpoints in the southern part of the park.


Mississippi Palisades State Park is about 3 hours from Chicago. Take Interstate 290 to Interstate 88 west. After about 60 miles, take the exit for Interstate 39/U.S. Highway 52 heading north. Take the exit for Illinois Highway 64, then turn left. Turn right onto U.S. Highway 52. Continue straight onto Illinois Highway 84, then turn right into the south park entrance. Turn right at the fork in the road ahead, then continue until the road ends at a one-way loop. Turn right into the larger parking lot at the beginning of this loop.

Google Maps Directions

Parking, Fees, and Facilities

Parking is free! There are no facilities near this lot, but restrooms are available near the south park entrance.

Nearby Hikes

The Twin Sisters and the Mississippi River beyond in the late afternoon sun
Sentinel Trail to the Twin Sisters
Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois
The wide trail heading uphill into dense forest
High Point Trail and Rock Top Trail
Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois
The view of Bellevue and the Mississippi River and bluffs from the overlook
Overlook Trail
Bellevue State Park, Iowa
The small pond and metal sculptures in the butterfly garden
Quarry Loop
Bellevue State Park, Iowa

External Links