Wildcat Canyon boasts many superlatives. It has the tallest waterfall in the park, at 70 feet, is in the deepest canyon in the park at approximately 90 feet, has TWO overlooks at the top, interior access to the canyon, and is only one of three spots in the park where ice climbing is allowed. The canyon is worth visiting year round (as is all of the park.)
Length from the Visitors Center: 1 mile hike one way. 2 mile roundtrip.
Difficulty: Access to Wildcat Canyon from the Visitor Center will be difficult regardless of which of the three routes you choose, however for an easier hike, it is suggested that hikers use either the Campanula trail or the Bluff trail. This takes hikers down, rather than up the long and steep Wildcat Canyon staircase, should the hiker choose to return via the river trail. Both the Bluff Trail and Campanula trail have their positives, but the Campanula trail is slightly shorter, and may be an easier hike for families with small children. Hikers will need to cross a creek to get into the canyon, and during strong rain, the creek can get deep. Should hikers decided to not go into the canyon, you can still get an amazing view of the waterfall from the end of the boardwalk. Make sure you wear micro spikes or Yak Trax in the winter, as the trails can become icy.
Parking: Starved Rock Visitor Center, Starved Rock Lodge, or Overflow parking area.
Waterfall: Yes – Rain dependent
Top View: Yes -Two overlooks
Interior Canyon View: Yes
Flora and Fauna: Visitors may catch glimpses of black capped chickadees, tufted titmice, tree and house sparrows, and rough winged swallows in the canyons. Summer bird watchers will find migratory species such as tennessee warblers, blue winged warblers, black and white warblers, golden and ruby crowned kinglets, cape may warblers, indigo bundtings, great crested flycatchers, hermit thurshes, and more! White tailed deer, oppossum, raccoon, beaver, chipmunks, and gray squirrels are some of the mammals the hiker might encounter. Reptiles such as the northern banded water snake, little brown snake, garter snakes, and painted turtles can be encountered basking in the sun during the summer and early fall.