By Katelyn Davis
This past weekend we discovered our new favorite place to hike and adventure—Hocking Hills. Centrally located within a few hours’ drive from Michigan, Indiana, West Virginia, Pennsylvania, and Kentucky, Ohio’s Hocking Hills is an absolute treasure and a mecca for weekend warriors.
Hocking Hills provides a variety of outdoor activities in a splendid natural setting. The 2,356-acre park has towering cliffs, waterfalls, and deep hemlock-shaded gorges that are guaranteed to appease any hiker or naturalist.
The areas of greatest interest are pretty self-contained which makes it easy to make this visit into an enjoyable 2-day trip. Once arriving in Logan County, Ohio you will immediately be bombarded with billboards and signs pointing you in every direction for waterfalls, trails, cliffs, and more—it gets overwhelming fast! So here is a guide to make the best of a weekend trip to Hocking Hills:
Usually I like to save the best for last but in this case you’ll need the most time and energy for Cantwell Cliffs. Although it is 17 miles from some of the most popular attractions and its remote location discourages visitation, those who travel the extra distance will not be disappointed. This was the most picturesque area in Hocking Hills.
You can choose to follow one (or both) of two trails, either to the valley floor or the rim. Regardless of which path you embark on, you will see breathtaking deep valleys, waterfalls, and steep cliffs with undercut rock shelters. At times the hike can get difficult with steep inclines, narrow passages, and rocky terrain but the whole experience is fun.
Old Man’s Creek
The Old Man’s Cave area can be divided into five sections—Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls, and Lower Gorge. Along the length of the trail the magnificent gorge cuts through the entire 150-foot thickness of the Blackhand sandstone. Carved by the creek, the half-mile gorge hike gives you a unique look into the earth’s subsurface as well as sweeping views of the forest, caves, creeks, and ponds . The full distance of the gorge is approximately one half mile.
Rock House is unique in the Hocking Hills’ region, as it is the only true cave in the park. It is a tunnel-like corridor situated on a 150-foot cliff of Blackhand sandstone, accessible by a short hike down from the rim. The cave has a ceiling 25 feet high while the main corridor is 200 feet long and 20 to 30 feet wide. According to local folklore, back in the day there were some not-so-welcome visitors frequenting Rock House including robbers, horse thieves, murderers, and bootleggers. This earned Rock House its reputation as Robbers Roost.
Once you enjoy what the cave has to offer, you can hike back up to the rim where you came from or you can continue down to the gorge for a quiet hike through the forest which is littered with unique rock formations.
Zip Line Adventures
This is where Nature-Lovers and Thrill-Seekers come together for an exciting two and a half to three hour treetop adventure. Professional guides lead you along 10 zip lines and 5 adventure sky bridges, offering a unique perspective of Hocking Hills. You’ll soar over a natural cave/waterfall, along the Hocking River, past fern-covered rock formations, and finally land in the Garden of Eden. The tour is designed to thrill first-time zippers, as well as the most experienced zip line enthusiasts. There is even a Moonshine Tour that takes place by the light of the moon! For more information check out hockinghillscanopytours.com.
Hammocking the Hills
Everywhere you look there are trees! Lots of trees for hammocking! But remember, hammock responsibly and be aware of the harm you can cause the ecosystem by treading off the trails. It would also be a safe bet to hammock far from cliff edges.
Don’t forget Columbus!
Whether you’re looking for a place to stay the night that’s not a campground or cabin or you’re in need of a change of scenery, check out Columbus. Only an hour drive from Hocking Hills, downtown Columbus is home to an amazing restaurant and nightlife scene as well as museums, shops, and more!
For more information visit hockinghills.com.