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The Ultimate Hiking Guide to Hocking Hills, Ohio

05/13/2024 | by bizcor | Outdoors

Spring is officially here in Hocking Hills, and that means warmer weather is here and the possibilities are endless. For your next vacation getaway consider making your way to Hocking Hills where you will find an outdoor playground waiting for you. Hocking Hills is a top getaway location where you can enjoy all kinds of outdoor activities including exploring the near endless hiking trails in the area. Hiking is a popular activity for most locals and visitors who wish to take in the beauty that Hocking Hills has to offer. Of course, there is plenty to know before you hit the trails here in Hocking Hills. Take a look at our expansive ultimate hiking guide that will get you ready for your hiking journey to Hocking Hills:

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Preparing for the Trails

Hocking Hills is a popular destination for those who wish to explore the outdoors. The area includes many different hiking trails with a variety of difficulty levels. Many of the trails are found at Hocking Hills State Park and are more strenuous trails. With that being said visitors will want to make sure they are fully prepared for their hiking journey. Make sure to bring comfortable shoes, preferably hiking shoes that will prevent slipping on the trail. If you are visiting in the summer, it is important to always have water on you. Hocking Hills can feature cool weather many months of the year so having a light jacket on you will never hurt. Some visitors even explore the trails during the winter where you may require snow jackets, spikes for your shoes, and hiking poles. If you arrive to Hocking Hills without the appropriate gear you can always stop by a local gear shop. Hocking Hills is home to Adventure Pro Outdoors Store that sells a variety of gear for both adults and children. They have the top brands you can trust to keep you safe on the trail. Additional gear shops in town also include Hocking Hills Outdoor LLC and Rocky Outdoor Gear Store. It is always imperative to stay safe on the trails and having the appropriate gear is the first step to a successful hike.

Hocking Hills State Park

Many of the visitors that make their way to Hocking Hills for hiking do so to visit our popular state park, Hocking Hills State Park. This local park is a true wonder with several distinct areas that will offer beauty and serenity all around you. Hocking Hills State Park offers seven different areas where you can enjoy short and long hikes that will take you to stunning scenery. Let’s break down each area for your upcoming hiking trip.

Ash Cave

The first area of Hocking Hills State Park for you to explore is one of the most popular hiking spots in the area. Ash Cave represents a gorgeous location with a one-way trail system that includes a paved path that is wheelchair accessible. This path will continue through a gorge that offers sandstone cliff walls and hemlocks so everyone is able to see incredible sights.

The Ash Cave Trail is approximately a half mile in length and will take most hikers around 40 minutes to complete. The time of the hike is primarily due to a series of steps that feature a strenuous climb up. Hikers will approach the halfway point of the trail where they will find the famous recessed cavern that Ash Cave gets its name from.

You will also find a seasonal waterfall that is flowing in the spring and early summer seasons. If you want to brave the cold you can always find the waterfall frozen in several places during the winter—a true spectacle to see.

After this point is where the series of steps will begin that will take you up to the rim trail that will take you back to the parking lot. Hikers are also able to take the path all the way to Cedar Falls that will add on another 2.3 mile trek. Ash Cave allows friendly dogs who are leashed to be on the trail. No swimming is allowed in any creek or waterfall area.

Ash Cave
Ash Cave

Old Man’s Cave

Another popular spot here inside Hocking Hills State Park is an area known as Old Man’ Cave. This is another recessed cavern with a trail that will take you past all of the wondrous sights. Old Man’s Cave features two different one-way loop trails for you to take. Each trail starts off at Upper Falls, an area that features seasonal waterfalls just like Ash Cave.

The first option for the one-way loop trail is going from the Upper Falls to the end point located at the Naturalist Cabin and Visitor Center. Here visitors will be able to learn more about the area and have any questions answered pertaining to the park. This trail is approximately a mile in length and will take most hikers around an hour to complete.

For a longer journey visitors can start near Lower Falls just past Old Man’s Cave and follow the trail through a steep incline that adds approximately an extra half mile and extra half hour to the length and time of the hike. Experienced hikers may find some of these trails to be shorter than options that are accustomed to.

If you prefer a day-long journey, there is a one-mile trail that can take hikers from Old Man’s Cave back to Ash Cave. The end point of this six-mile trail does not have shuttle return service so make sure you have transportation planned before venturing off on the route. There is also the Blue Trail hikers can take to Cedar Falls and Lower Falls for even more views.

Regardless of what route you take, Old Man’s Cave also features a similar paved start where you can find an observation deck to take all the views in. Don’t miss out on this popular hiking destination at Hocking Hills State Park.

Rock House

Hocking Hills State Park is filled with many recessed caverns including Rock House. These are not true caves, as sunlight can be found in all zones of the cave, but they are still equally impressive to see in person. Rock House can be accessed through two separate parking lots with trails that eventually lead together. Rock House features another one-way loop trail that has a strenuous grade set of steps. The views from Rock House are incredible at all times throughout the year, making it an ideal spot during any visit. The loop trail is approximately .8 miles in length. allowing most hikers to complete it in just under a half hour. There is plenty of shade from the trees during the summer, so it will not get too hot. Similar to other parts of the park the ideal time to visit the trail is between the months of April through October once the weather has warmed up.

Conkle’s Hollow

If you prefer a trail that provides several options based on your experience level, Conkle’s Hollow is a must see at Hocking Hills State Park. This area features its own preserved area called Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve. The Lower Trail is around .75 miles in length and is paved allowing it to be wheelchair accessible. Most hikers will complete this trail in just under an hour, making for a relaxing and enjoyable experience. The Upper Trail is approximately two miles in length and is a strenuous journey that features a moderate to steep incline. The trail also includes 100-foot cliff drops and paths that may feature visible roots. Due to these trail aspects, the Upper Trail is not recommended for young children or those unfit for more rigorous hikes.

Cedar Falls

One of the most incredible aspects of hiking through Hocking Hills State Park is the views. Cedar Falls features plenty of unique rock formations and beautiful waterfalls to see during the spring and summer months. This area of the park is another one-way trail system that features a half-mile long path with a steep incline. The seasonal waterfalls are a joy to see up close in person and are found early on during the trail. Hikers will also find more recessed caverns here too (just not as big as those found in the previous areas of the park). Following the waterfalls hikers will take a trail down rugged steps and continue along a dirt path. A boardwalk will take hikers over a stream and eventually up another series of steps before reaching the end of the path. Most hikers will need approximately 40 minutes to complete the one-way loop and is considered a strenuous hike perfect for experienced hikers and those without health issues.

Cantwell Cliffs

Many of the views included in the areas discussed so far primarily focus on the seasonal waterfalls and recessed caverns. Hocking Hills State Park is also known for its natural sandstone cliffs that have unique formations around different paths. Cantwell Cliffs is one of these areas and will take you through the cliffs up flights of stairs so you can reach the top viewing area. Cantwell Cliffs features the most rugged area in the entire park primarily consisting of steep steps throughout the path. The area has two loop trails, each being a mile in length. Most experienced hikers will complete each loop in 60 to 80 minutes allowing you to spend enough time marveling at the views. Friendly leashed dogs are allowed on the trail.

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Whispering Cave

The final area inside Hocking Hills State Park is what is known as Whispering Cave. Getting to Whispering Cave can be initially confusing for those who are not familiar with the area. Guests will want to park their vehicles at the Old Man’s Cave parking lot to access the primary hiking trail at Whispering Cave. This is the longest single trail in the park and is approximately 5 miles in length. This one-way loop features some unique views including a seasonal waterfall along with a swinging bridge that you will cross. With each trail being a one-mile loop, you are unable to turn around and head back, so make sure you are prepared for the longer trek. For those exploring Hocking Hills State Park for the entire day they can head over to the Whispering Cave trail from the Visitor Center or start near Upper Falls. Similar to other trails in the park this trail is recommended for those who are experienced hikers and without health issues.

Find Your Vacation Rental Today

As you can see, there is quite a bit to know when it comes to hiking here in Hocking Hills. The Hocking Hills State Park will be your ideal hiking destination with seven different trail areas for you to explore. Get ready for your hiking journey by reserving one of our vacation rentals here in the area. You will find our listings of properties includes homes of a variety of sizes to accommodate any group. Each property has spacious floor plans including common areas such as living rooms and gourmet kitchens. You will be able to rest easy before your next hike in comfortable bedrooms with fine linens. Bathrooms offer the essential toiletries and will clean you up in no time after each hike. Spacious patios and yards are a great way to spend your downtime off the trails outdoors grilling up a meal or laying out in the sun. Each property has so much to offer, you will never go back to a tiny hotel room again.

Simply find your favorite property with us today and get ready for your hiking journey to Hocking Hills. Our team is always on hand to assist you during your journey.

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