Hiking among cliffs & caves Southeast Ohio
An introduction to Hocking Hills State Park in Southeast Ohio, a great place for hiking and sightseeing.
Less than an hour’s drive from Columbus Ohio eastward on Ohio route 33 is a beautiful and engaging natural hiker’s paradise. Driving from Columbus, the mostly flat terrain comes alive with hills and dales, until it settles into the hocking river valley. The Native Americans in the area named the river “hockhocking” referring to the gorge near Lancaster, but it is near Logan that the most scenic gorges and terrain are found.
Old Man’s Cave
The primary place for visitors is the Old Man’s Cave area, where there are a visitor center, snack shack, and gift shop. This beautiful cave and gorge area is made of Blackhand sandstone, into which the river has cut waterfalls, and the state has added easily accessible foot trails along the natural terrain. Named for Richard Rowe, a hermit who lived in the cave in the 1800s, the area is busy with casual hikers during the summer, and packed on weekends. Almost all of the family will be able to handle the easy half-mile hike through the gorge. The views are spectacular, with giant rocks, waterfalls, and stone bridges. There are longer and more difficult hikes in the park for those looking for a challenge.
Although the paths are safe, it is wise to stay on the trails. There are signs posted with sad stories of hikers who strayed and became injured. The trails are well marked, and maps are available at the gift shop for a dollar. The only concession in the park is the snack shack, which is open intermittently. There are also general stores near the park.
Cedar Falls Sightseeing
The State Park has a number of other stops worth a visit. Cedar Falls has an impressive waterfall in the spring; however, many of the falls in the area dry up during the summer. Oddly, there are no cedar trees in the area; the early settlers who named the falls mistook the native hemlocks for cedars. Rock House is a cave formation that looks much like a house, complete with windows. Ash cave has a ninety-foot waterfall, and interesting hiking is found by Conkles Hollow and Cantwell Cliffs. There is no swimming in the State Park, but a beach and boating is available at nearby Lake Logan.
Surrounding area attractions
The main features in the park are within a twenty-mile radius, and just outside the park to the north is the city of Logan, Ohio. Logan is a nice small town, with some motels, a hospital, and the usual chain restaurants. Nearby there is canoeing, shopping, craft stores, and outlets. There is a quaint diner in the nearby town of Rockbridge, and the Millstone BBQ in Logan.
The areas around the park are packed with cabins. From rustic to replete with modern conveniences, there a number of choices. Many specialize in romantic getaways, with hot tubs and other amenities. Be sure to look closely at the services provided to find one that suits your needs. Many campgrounds are in the area as well, and the area is popular with travelers driving recreational vehicles on the sometimes tight roads.
The Hocking Hills State Park and the surrounding area are a great place to get away from the city. You can picnic, hike, or just relax with family, friends, or that special someone, in nature’s beautiful setting. Be sure to visit other state parks, including Alum Creek and Salt Fork.
Hocking Hills State Park
19852 OH-664, Logan, OH 43138