Hocking Hills State Park in Hocking County, Ohio, is a dramatic and wild park situated in Southeastern Ohio’s Sandstone Region. The park is famous for its rock formations and amazing scenery, especially the many waterfalls, along with cliffs, caves, gorges, and streams. It is truly a hiker’s paradise. There are seven different hiking areas: Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Rock House, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, and the recently-opened Whispering Cave Trail.
Ash Cave has a handicapped accessible Gorge Trail that just about anyone can enjoy. The walk is about two-tenths of a mile in, and back, and takes you past stately hemlock trees. A huge curved rock outcropping forms the backdrop of the waterfall, which is gorgeous in every season. If you want an easy walk with a stunning destination, this is the hike for you.
Rock House Trail
Rock House Trail is primitive and rugged. It leads to a spectacular tunnel-like cave that has been known to shelter people for many, many centuries. According to legend, it was once a bandit hideout. Kids of all ages will enjoy pretending they are hiding out there, even if it is just from the busy modern world.
Conkle’s Hollow was named for German immigrant W. J. Conkle who left his name and the date 1797 carved into the sandstone on the west wall of the gorge. It offers two trails, one through the hollow and upper trail. The lower trail takes you through a cool, deep gorge that is over 100 feet deep and perhaps the deepest in the state. The upper trail is somewhat precarious. It is not recommended for children.
Old Man’s Cave
Old Man’s Cave offers a huge cliff with a dramatic waterfall and an arched bridge overhead. The trail is about a mile long and takes about an hour to hike.
Cantwell Cliffs provide you a valley or rim trail option. Be advised that there is a narrow passage called “Fat Woman’s Squeeze” in the deep valley trail as you head toward the bottom of the gorge.
Cedar Falls is one of the largest waterfalls in the park. It splits dramatically about halfway down the Cliffside, with the right stream being more forceful than the left. In hot, dry weather, it is barely a trickle, though.
Whispering Cave Trail is the newest addition, and it leads through dramatic forest and rock outcroppings to the sweeping and picturesque Whispering Cave with its waterfall descending from the huge overhanging rock ledge.
Hocking Hills State Park is beautiful any time of year, but the autumn leaves give the park some added splendor. With a slight dusting of snow in the winter, it is a wonderland at every turn. In addition to the hiking, the park area offers horseback riding, zip lining, miniature golfing, lake swimming, and boat rentals. There is plenty to see and do. If you would like to stay in the park, you have a wide range of quaint and rustic lodge type rooms, which you can read about and book by accessing the Hocking Hills State Park website.
Looking for more beautiful foliage, waterfalls, and hiking in Ohio? Check out our guide on visiting Cuyahoga Valley National Park.
There is a small interpretive museum is located at the trailhead, along with a gift shop and snack bar. The park is free but donations are accepted. Dogs on leashes are welcome. For everyone’s safety, please stay on the trails. Be prepared with sturdy hiking shoes, plenty of water, picnic food, and your preferred trail snacks. The park gets busy on holiday weekends; otherwise, you might have the trails to yourself.