The Hocking Hills region has some of the best hiking trails in Ohio. Fortunately, many Hocking Hills hiking trails are also pet-friendly, so you can bring your hiking dog along with you. Keep reading to learn about our favorite Hocking Hills pet friendly trails.
Looking for more on Hocking Hills, Ohio? Read 8 Must See Hocking Hills, Ohio Attractions.
Hocking Hills Pet Friendly Trails
There’s plenty of Hocking Hills trails for dogs to choose from. Many of the Hocking Hills dog-friendly trails connect to one another, so you can string several of these together for a longer hike.
**At the moment (2021), most Hocking Hills hiking trails are noted as one-way to assist with social distancing. Be sure to follow the correct path in and out of each attraction**
Ash Cave Gorge and Rim Trails
Ash Cave is one of the most popular trails in the Hocking Hills. The Ash Cave Gorge trail is a short, paved trail that is only ¼-mile each way. This is the perfect trail for dogs new to hiking, or dogs you are trying to socialize, as you’ll pass many other visitors on the trail. The seasonal waterfall at the end is a great place for your dog to cool off and the cave provides a cool respite on a warm day. If they do ok with the walk-in, you might consider taking the Rim Trail back to the parking lot. Just take the steps up to the rim of the gorge. Or, you can continue on for 2.3 miles to Cedar Falls.
Location: Ash Cave parking lot on State Route 56
Trail Length: ¼-mile to ½-mile each way
Elevation Gain: 100’
Difficulty: Gorge trail is easy, Rim trail moderate due to steps
Accessible: The Gorge Trail is paved and accessible, the Rim Trail is not
One of the most photographed spots in Hocking Hills is also one of the best Hocking Hills trails for dogs. In just ½ mile, you reach a beautiful waterfall and pool where your dog can splash around and cool off. With bridges framing the Queer Creek before it plunges 50 feet, and huge hemlock trees towering above, this is a picture-perfect hiking trail for novice hikers. With so much scenery packed into a short hike, this is one of the more popular dog-friendly trails in Hocking Hills. Be prepared for lots of families and other dogs; so be sure your dog is on a leash and comfortable with crowds!
Location: Cedar Falls parking lot on Highway 374
Trail Length: 1-mile round trip
Elevation Gain: 177’
Difficulty: Moderate due to steps
Photo Courtesy of Campfires & Concierges
Old Man’s Cave
Another short hiking trail in Hocking Hills is the one-mile round trip to Old Man’s Cave. Located near the Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center, this ½-mile trail features a stream and several waterfalls before you reach the cave where an old man really did live in the late 18th century. Besides the cave, the trail follows a stream with a couple of waterfalls along the way. From here, you can easily connect to other Hocking Hills trails, including the Grandma Gatewood trail, which connects many popular Hiking Hills destinations.
Location: Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center on Highway 664
Trail Length: 1-mile round trip
Elevation Gain: 42’
Difficulty: Easy to Moderate
Pet Friendly: Dogs on Leash are allowed
If you have an active dog who can handle a steep trail and lots of steps, then this is a fun trail with fewer crowds. There is a very narrow section of steps, and very steep dropoffs so dogs that spook easily or are not used to varied terrain may not enjoy this trail. That said, the remote location and difficulty of the terrain mean that this trail will not be as crowded as others in Hocking Hills. In total, there are two one-mile loop trails; one through the gorge and one on the rim.
Location: Cantwell Cliffs parking lot on Highway 374
Trail Length: 1.8 miles round trip
Elevation Gain: 291’
Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave
**The trailhead is currently closed (2021) – you can access from Old Man’s Cave trail for a 4.5-mile hike.**
Another large cave to visit in Hocking Hills is the Whispering Cave. The cave is nearly 300 feet wide, with a 100-foot waterfall pouring over the rim. Along the way, you’ll have several smaller caves and waterfalls to explore. The cave is off a short side trail from the Hemlock Bridge trail; your dog may or may not enjoy crossing a swinging bridge. As the trails are currently one-way only, if you don’t think your dog will cross the bridge, you may want to choose another trail.
Location: Hocking Hills State Park Cabins
Trail Length: 1.9 miles
Elevation Gain: 301
This is one of the largest and most popular cave hikes in Hocking Hills. The Rock House cave has been used by animals and people for centuries; you can see evidence of those passing through during the 19th century, as they’ve left etchings on the cave walls. The trail is fairly steep, especially if you make the climb up to the cave itself. For a view without the steep hike, there is a lookout tower near the parking area.
Location: Rock House parking lot on Highway 374
Trail Length: 1-mile
Elevation Gain: 203’
Photo Courtesy of Campfires & Concierges
Hiking with Dogs in Hocking Hills
Having so many Hocking Hills pet friendly trails is truly a privilege, and something dog owners should never take for granted. There are certain rules we all need to abide by, not only to ensure our dogs are happy and safe on the trail, but also to ensure these trails remain open to dogs for years to come.
A few things to keep in mind when setting out on these Hocking Hills dog friendly trails:
- All Hocking Hills trails for dogs require that dogs are on a leash. This will keep your dog safe, will make other hikers feel safe, and will prevent any harm to wildlife.
- Leave No Trace! Pick up after your dog. Dog waste can contain bacteria that is harmful to wildlife, and it’s just plain rude to leave a mess behind.
Besides these two golden rules of hiking with dogs, there are some other things you can do to ensure your dog is having a great time on the trail.
- Make sure your pet is able to hike. If it’s the first hike of the season, take it slow and give your dog lots of rest breaks. Don’t wait until they are exhausted to turn around. Gradually warm up to longer hikes by adding a couple of miles at a time.
- Always have water for your dog. While many of the Hocking Hills dog-friendly trails have streams and ponds, always make sure you have extra water for your dog. Every dog is different; some will require a bowl in order to drink, while others will drink from a bottle of water.
- Avoid hot days and the heat of the day. Many dogs can overheat easily; try to hike in the early morning or late in the day to avoid the hottest part of the day. You’ll also avoid crowds this way.
- Talk to your vet about flea/tick and heartworm preventatives. Ticks are prevalent in the Midwest, as are mosquitos that carry heartworm. Make sure your dog is protected, and still do a tick check before you get back in the car!
- Don’t ever leave your pet in the car on a hot day. Even in the shade, with the windows cracked, temperatures in a parked car rise quickly and can do irreparable harm to your dog.
- Enjoy a getaway with your pup at one of these pet friendly cabins in Hocking Hills, Ohio.