As Ohio’s most visited state park, Hocking Hills State Park welcomes visitors to explore its 2,356-acres of stunning natural scenery. With miles of trails, rugged cliffs and caves, sandstone gorges and serene waterfalls, this southeastern Ohio park is a nature enthusiast’s dream! Keep reading for 7 must-see Hocking Hills, Ohio locations to add to your Hocking Hills bucket list.
Hocking Hills State Park features six scenic areas. The natural rock formations are carved in various compositions of Black Hand Sandstone which makes remarkable cliffs, caves and gorges throughout the region. Although the hundreds of miles of trails give visitors an up-close-and personal experience with some of Ohio’s most breathtaking scenery, the trails can be a bit treacherous in some areas of the park. Trails with varying degrees of difficulty are clearly mapped in the park and there are a few paved trails for less active hikers. All Ohio State Parks have free admission and are great to explore year-round! Whether a day trip or a weekend getaway, Hocking Hills State Park is the perfect place to enjoy Ohio’s beautiful natural landscapes!
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As the largest recessed cave east of the Mississippi River, the magnificent horse-shoe shaped cave rim spans 700 feet! Surrounded by a woodland forest, this peaceful natural wonder also features a beautiful runoff waterfall which cascades from its upper rim into a pool below. Ash Cave can be accessed by a short hike along the lower paved trail (the paved trail ends within a ½ mile into a sandy region in the recessed cave).
Located in one of the most remote areas of Hocking Hills, those willing to venture to Cantwell Cliffs will be rewarded with a challenging hike and breathtaking views. Hikers will find two trails; the rim trail for striking views and vistas and the valley trail to walk amongst the towering sandstone cliffs. One of the most unique features in the area includes a narrow passage (nicknamed the “Fat Woman’s Squeeze”) down into the gorge. The rim trail at Cantwell Cliffs is one of the most difficult trails in Hocking Hills, so use extreme caution when hiking.
Photos Courtesy of Tonya from Travel Inspired Living
Surrounded by beautiful hemlock and steep rock walls, Cedar Falls plunges 50-feet into the valley below. With the highest volume of water of all the waterfalls in Hocking County, Cedar Falls is a site to behold (rightfully so, Cedar Falls is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Ohio). Hikers can access the falls by descending 100 steps down into the grotto from the parking lot or hike the Buckeye Trail from either Ash Cave or Old Man’s Cave.
Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve:
Considered one of the deepest rocky gorges in Ohio, Conkle’s Hollow’s sandstone cliffs rise nearly 200 feet above the valley floor. The upper rim trail offers panoramic views of spectacular scenery…as the highest trail in the area, hikers must be cautious on this extremely dangerous trail. The lower gorge trail leads hikers into the valley floor covered with lush flora and soaring cliffs rise above.
Photo Courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources
Because of the Marietta and Cincinnati Railroad, the Moonville Tunnel came into existence in the mid-1800’s. By the early 1900’s, the declining economy turned Moonville into a ghost town and the railway no longer passed through the tunnel. Locals believe Moonville Tunnel is haunted, with several spirits seen on various occasions lurking in the tunnel.
Finding the tunnel can be a bit challenging, once on OH-278 turn onto Hope-Moonville Rd. and continue along the gravel road for several miles, the parking lot will be on the left side.
Old Man’s Cave:
Hermit Richard Rowe once called this area home in the late 1700’s. Deriving its name from the hermit, Old Man’s Cave is the most visited area in the park. Old Man’s Cave contains five sections: Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. Along the trail, the gorge cuts through the 150-foot thick walls of the Black Hand sandstone, allowing visitors to peer into the earth’s subsurface. Old Man’s Cave can be accessed from several points at the main parking lot or hike the Buckeye Trail or Gorge Overlook Trail from Cedar Falls.
As the only true cave in the park, the corridors of the Rock House await to be explored. Sitting midway on a 150-foot Black Hand sandstone cliff, the impressive main corridor spans 200 feet long, approximately 20 feet wide and has 25-foot high ceilings. A series of joints has formed window-like openings making the façade of the rock to look like a house. The spectacular Rock House can be accessed from the parking lot a rugged trail with several sets of steps.
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