Sentinel Trail to the Twin Sisters

Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois

Trip Date: Saturday, June 1st, 2019
Last Updated: Tuesday, August 13th, 2019
By Ricky Holzer

Hike Information

Rating ★★★★☆(4/5)
Overall Difficulty Easy
Navigation Difficulty     Easy
Distance 0.8 miles roundtrip
Time 30 minutes
Terrain Mostly flat
Best Seasons Spring, Summer, Fall
Family Friendly Yes
Dog Friendly Yes
Accessible No

Highlights

Hike Walkthrough

One of the most scenic state parks in Illinois, Mississippi Palisades State Park lies on top of a bluff along the Mississippi River and thus features excellent views. While there are plenty of drive-up overlooks in the southern part of the park, you'll undoubtedly have to share those views with the many other tourists. A better alternative is the short hike on the Sentinel Trail to the Twin Sisters where even on a summer Saturday you may have the place to yourself.

The trail begins across the road from the parking area and heads slightly uphill. At the crest, the trail begins a gradual descent that continues until the end. Stay left at the fork ahead to remain on the Sentinel Trail -- if you begin steeply descending into the neighboring ravine, you've accidentally taken the Sunset Trail. At the end of the trail, the wooden staircase pictured below that leads down to the platform where the overgrown forest gives way to river views.

The wooden staircase leading down to the overlook

The wooden staircase leading down to the overlook

The Twin Sisters, two similarly sized rock columns rising 100 feet from the base of the bluff, are directly in front of you, as pictured below. The highway and railroad are below you, with the gently rippling waters of the Mississippi River just beyond. In the distance you can see the bluffs on the other side of the river in Iowa.
The Twin Sisters and the Mississippi River beyond in the late afternoon sun

The Twin Sisters and the Mississippi River beyond in the late afternoon sun

When you're done, just follow the same way back. There's not much to this hike, but it certainly rewards the minimal effort required to reach the overlook! Don't miss this spot on your next visit to Mississippi Palisades State Park. Let me know what you think in the comments section below and be sure to use #nocoastbestcoast on Twitter and Instagram!

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.

Directions

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 park in the lot on the left side of the road after ascending the hill.

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.

External Links

Nearby Hikes

Indian Head

Mississippi Palisades State Park, Illinois
★★★★☆(4/5)

River Route

Apple River Canyon State Park, Illinois
★★★☆☆(3/5)

Charles Mound (Illinois State Highpoint)

Charles Mound, Illinois
★★★★☆(4/5)

Maquoketa Caves North to the Natural Bridge and Twin Arch Cave

Maquoketa Caves State Park, Iowa
★★★★★(5/5)

Comments