The Hocking Hills area of Ohio is full of fantastic hiking trails. From short, accessible trails to longer more challenging routes, you’ll be amazed at the gorges, waterfalls, caves, and forests to be explored. While most of these Hocking Hills hiking trails are fairly short, many of them are connected, so you can string several trails together for a longer hike through the entire park.

Hocking Hills Hiking Trails

There’s plenty of Hocking Hills Hiking Trails for every level of hiker. Whether you’re an expert hiker seeking difficult trails or you’re looking for a relaxing stroll through nature, these trails lead you through beautiful landscapes and provide the best views of the region. Many Hocking Hills hiking routes have water crossings and slick rock surfaces, so make sure you have good hiking boots with adequate traction for those slippery sections. Also for longer hikes be prepared with adequate water and food supply, navigation tools, first aid kit and essential hiking gear.

Looking for pet friendly hiking trails in Hocking Hills? Read Hocking Hills Pet Friendly Trails.

Ash Cave

Ash Cave Gorge and Rim Trails

One of the most popular Hocking Hills hiking trails is the short hike to Ash Cave. It’s the largest recessed cave east of the Mississippi River and a nice easy hike for all ages. The 700-foot wide rim has an impressive seasonal waterfall. The Ash Cave Gorge Trail is ¼-mile each way, and wheelchair accessible. You can also take the Rim Trail to Ash Cave, and drop in on the stairs at the cave. This trail is 1/2 mile and a more moderately challenging option.

Location: Ash Cave parking lot on State Route 56

Trail Length: ¼-mile to ½-mile each way

Elevation Gain: 100’

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Accessible: Yes, partial

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Cantwell Cliffs, Photo Courtesy of Travel Inspired Living

Cantwell Cliffs

For a more challenging Hocking Hills hiking experience, the Cantwell Cliffs trail is short but steep and offers amazing scenery in a more remote area of Hocking Hills. Escape the summer heat in the cool gorge and cool off in the stream along the trail. Many stairs and short climbs earn this hike a moderately difficult rating, which also means you’ll be sharing the trail with fewer visitors. This is one of the best places to hike in Hocking Hills without crowds!

Location: Cantwell Cliffs parking lot on Highway 374

Trail Length: 1.8 miles round trip

Elevation Gain: 291’

Difficulty: Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls

For a short hike to a spectacular waterfall, Cedar Falls is one of the best Hocking Hills trails. The waters of Queer Creek plunge 50 feet into a pool where dogs and kids can splash to their hearts’ content. Due to the amazing scenery, this is one of the more crowded trails at Hocking Hills, but it’s definitely worth it as it’s the largest waterfall in Hocking County in terms of water volume. For a change of scenery, there’s also a Gorge Overlook Trail up above that connects with other Hocking Hills hiking trails.

Location: Cedar Falls parking lot on Highway 374

Trail Length: 1-mile round trip

Elevation Gain: 177’

Difficulty: Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave

Old Man’s Cave

Another very popular Hocking Hills hiking trail is the hike to Old Man’s Cave. The trail is located near the visitor center and features a stream, several waterfalls, picturesque bridge views, and of course, a Old Man’s Cave. The trail winds along the floor of a 150-foot gorge and intersects many other park trails if you want to connect them to see more highlights. Get there early in the day to avoid the crowds!

Location: Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center on Highway 664

Trail Length: 1-mile round trip

Elevation Gain: 42’

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Rock House

Rock House

This trail features the only “true” cave in Hocking Hills and it’s well worth the hike to see it. The cave has been used by people and animals for centuries, as the high walls offer protection and cool air from the outside, with several natural windows to look out over the surrounding forest. The trail itself is fairly easy, with a steep section up to the rock house, where you can walk inside and see etchings from the 1800s. There’s also a lookout tower near the trailhead if you want an aerial view.

Location: Rock House parking lot on Highway 374

Trail Length: 1-mile

Elevation Gain: 203’

Difficulty: Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Whispering Cave Trail/Hemlock Bridge

(trailhead currently closed – you can access from Old Man’s Cave trail for a 4.5-mile hike)

This trail features the second largest cave in the area, as well as a swinging Hemlock Bridge. Lots of smaller caves, waterfalls, and rock formations aka Honeycomb weathering along the way will keep the kids entertained until you reach the main attraction. Don’t miss the side trail to the swinging bridge; a must for the adventurous hikers in your group!

Location: Hocking Hills State Park Cabins

Trail Length: 1.9 miles

Elevation Gain: 301

Difficulty: Difficult

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Grandma Gatewood Trail

Grandma Gatewood was the first solo female thru-hiker of the Appalachian Trail, and she did it at the age of 67! As a local, she knew all the best Hocking Hills trails, and now has one named after her. The Grandma Gatewood Trail connects many of the Hocking Hills hiking trails mentioned above. The six-mile trail is also part of two long-distance hiking trails: the Buckeye Trail and the American Discovery Trail. This trail hits all of the highlights, including Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave. Stash a car at one end for a one-way hike, or do 12 miles out and back!

Location: Start at Upper Falls of Old Man’s Cave

Trail Length: 6 miles one way

Elevation Gain:

Difficulty: Difficult

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: Dogs on a leash are allowed

Looking for things to do in Hocking Hills in the winter? Read Fun Hocking Hills Winter Activities

Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve

This nature preserve north of Logan features seven miles of moderate hiking trails that culminate in a beautiful waterfall. Three trailheads offer access to the trails, which you can combine into one long loop, or choose a hike length that suits you. The preserve includes a wide diversity of terrain and landscapes, with the opportunity to see wildlife. The highlight of this area is Robinson Falls, but you will need to obtain a permit online at least 14 days in advance of your visit.

Location: Bremen Road north of Logan

Trail Length: 7.2 miles

Elevation Gain: 1,213’

Difficulty: Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: No

Conkles Hollow, Photo Courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve

Hike along sheer cliffs that rise 200 feet from the valley floor at this state nature preserve just northwest of Hocking Hills State Park. The gorge trail follows the valley floor through one of the deepest gorges in Ohio, where it’s only 100’ wide in some areas. Up top, the rim trail offers aerial views of the gorge and rock formations. Combine both trails for a longer and more challenging hike.

Location: Highway 374 northwest of Hocking Hills State Park

Trail Length: Gorge Trail is 2 miles, Rim Trail is 2.6 miles

Elevation Gain: Gorge Trail is 236’, Rim Trail is 495’

Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Accessible: Part of the Gorge Trail is wheelchair accessible

Pet Friendly: No

Rockbridge State Nature Preserve

This nature preserve holds the largest natural bridge in Ohio, spanning more than 100 feet across a ravine. There are two trails in the preserve: the Natural Bridge Trail and the Rock Shelter Trail. Combine these two trails for a nice loop to the bridge and the Hocking River. Given the location outside of the State Park, this is one of the lesser crowded Hocking Hills hiking destinations.

Location: Highway 503 northwest of Logan

Trail Length: 2.7 miles

Elevation Gain: 544’

Difficulty: Moderate

Accessible: No

Pet Friendly: No

Zaleski State Forest

The 2nd largest Ohio State Forest encompasses nearly 28,000 acres of forest just west of Athens. It also holds a sawmill, the only one operating in a state forest! The hiking trails here are considerably longer, ranging from 11 to 19.5 miles. There’s a rail-trail through the park, making it a popular destination for cyclists and equestrians in addition to hikers. The most famous destination in Zaleski State Forest is the Moonville Tunnel, a supposedly haunted historic tunnel that can be reached on a short connector trail. With longer hiking trails, this is a popular spot for backpackers on multi-day hiking trips.

Lake Hope State Park

Just north of Zaleski State Forest is Lake Hope State Park, another fantastic Hocking Hills hiking destination. A 3,000-acre lake, dense forests, gorges, and historic sites make this a great spot for hikers of all kinds. In total, there are eight hiking trails in the park, ranging from the one-mile Buzzard Cave Trail to the six-mile Furnace Trail. Like many Ohio State Parks, there is more than just hiking at this park. There’s also a 600-foot swimming beach, boat rentals, cabins, and camping.

Wayne National Forest

Wayne National Forest

Covering over 250,000 acres, this is the only National Forest in Ohio. The Athens Unit is one of three units of the National Forest and includes nearly 70,000 acres near the Hocking Hills region. (Other units are Ironton near the Kentucky/West Virginia border and the Marietta Unit in Washington County.) There are more than 300 miles of multi-use trails, including the largest OHV trail system in the state. One of the most popular trails in the Athens Unit is the Wildcat Hollow Trail, a six-mile loop through Burr Oak State Park.

The locations above are some of the best places to hike in Hocking Hills. Explore Southeastern Ohio’s spectacular natural landscapes by hiking one of these amazing Hocking Hills hiking trails!

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