Hocking Hills State Park

Travel Tip ThursdayLet’s be up front with one small fact about me:  I do not like hiking.

Beloved adores it.  And since I like to take pictures and spend time with my husband, I occasionally go hiking.

Against my better judgment.

At any rate, July 23, 24 and 25 found us in Hocking Hills State Park in southern Ohio.  While I was there, I found I much prefer it to northeast Ohio; because the park practically borders Kentucky, southern Ohio is much more, well, Southern than the rest of the state.  (Click on any picture to enlarge)

Click to enlarge

Hocking Hills State Park adjoins a state forest by the same name and is a popular destination for families camping.  The park itself is home to several campgrounds for RVs or those who prefer to “rough it” with a tent.  They also have 40 “cabins” which are really just small homes with all of the amenities.  Directly outside of the park are several privately owned properties with similar cabins; some are commercial properties – “Inns” if you will – small, hotel-like properties with additional individual dwellings.  Most of the rental properties are owned by individuals; people who bought sizable tracts of land, built small homes on them (some of which are quite isolated) and rent them out.

Moss and Fallen Trees

Since my idea of “roughing it” includes indoor plumbing and a coffee maker, we chose one of the latter for our extended weekend away.  The fact that there was a fully functioning kitchen and a charcoal grill out back was just a boon (oh, if only it had been clean…).

Bridge Steps

It rained a great deal of the time we were there, but Friday was quite nice so we decided to put on our hiking boots and go hike two of the nine trails available in the park.  Neither was very long, although the first, to Old Man’s Cave, was marked “moderate”, as most of the trails are.  The second hike, shorter and much easier (and handicap accessible) was to Ash Cave.

Entering Ash Cave

Composed mostly of shale and limestone, calling either of them a “cave” is a bit of a stretch – both are more honey-combed depressions in the sides of moderately-sized cliffs.  Glaciers never reached that far south, but they did turn Ohio into a very cool, very moist environment and in the valley and gorges of the park, those conditions remain today, making it quite lush and green.  There’s a lot of moss growing there, which I found quite novel – moss simply does not grow in northeast Texas; it’s far too arid and hot.  The hike to both caves had a very “primordial” feel to them, despite the very well-maintained paths and numerous visitors.

Old Mans Cave

Old Man’s Cave is so named because a hermit apparently made it his home in the mid-late 1800’s.  There are a lot of steps going up and down, and places that require care when walking – as I mentioned before, it’s cool, damp and moss-covered – and can get rather crowded at times, but it’s a marvelous hike all the same.  Not too easy, not too hard.  Well, at least not for me, anyway.

Shadow and Light

The feeling that you’re wending your way through a primordial forest is even more apparent on the easy hike to Ash Cave.  Again, it’s only a cave if you consider an overhang of limestone in the side of a cliff a cave, but it’s still pretty impressive.  The entrance and interior floor of the cave is covered in the kind of sand you’d expect to find on a beach, making me wonder if it occurs naturally or was imported (and why, if it’s the latter), making it a nice place to sit and relax for a bit.  In fact, more than one family was having a picnic lunch while we were there.  The main attraction to the cave is the waterfall, but despite the rain over the previous day or two, was more like a water dribble.  Still, the light and vegetation made it worth a picture or two.


Waterfall 2

There are lots of activities in the park – camping, hiking, fishing, swimming, archery – some of which are available year round.  Part of the park is a nature reserve, and there is a family-style restaurant available, as well as the requisite visitor’s center with knowledgeable employees and a souvenir shop.  All in all, it was a very pleasant day and we wished it hadn’t rained on Saturday so we could have gotten out and gone on a couple of the other hikes.


Shadow and Light 2

For more fun Travel Tips, head on over to Pseudonymous High School Teacher.  Tell her the crazy lady from the Sushi Bar sent ya; she’ll treat you just fine.

19 thoughts on “Hocking Hills State Park”

  1. My kinda place. Other half and I love to hike and prefer the moderate ones. Challenging hikes are fun to plan, but for the most part suck until you get to the top (and take photos). At least for me.

    🙂 Great post.
    .-= Erin´s last blog ..spin cycle: friendship =-.

  2. I grew up in Columbus and hocking hills was only an hour or so away. I have been loving that area of Ohio for almost 40 years! I went to “horse camp” in Hocking Hills at the age of 12 and when I was a teenager we camped there a lot! I’m glad you like it Janis! We have have stayed at at least 6 cabins for weekends over the last 10 years and we try to find “dog friendly” places so our Shelties can share our vacation with us. There is one place that had 86 acres of private land with trails on the cabin property to yourself. I loved walking my dogs off leash. They thought we were a wolf pack!

  3. This looks wonderfully cool. Especially as we are entering that hell that is Central Texas high summer complete with random rain and humidity that just saps the will to live right out of you.

    This sounds like a great place.
    .-= Stacy´s last blog ..Travel Tip Thursday =-.

  4. We rented a log cabin down there earlier this year around Easter. We enjoyed it thoroughly. Although I am a little jealous, with a swift mishit to a key on my computer, my daughter accidentally erased all the photos I had just uploaded.
    Alas, thinking that they were safe on the laptop, I erased the them from the memory disk to clear space for another 100 or so photos for the next day.

    Lesson learned. Now we just have to go back so I can do it all over again!
    (or I can look at your photos instead…)
    Thanks for the post!
    .-= Nancy´s last blog ..that is just disgusting… =-.

  5. Hello from the other side of the Appalachians! I love going hiking, but not the “roughing it” at nite part. We stayed in a cabin on the AT a few years ago. No running water, but there was a stream nearby. I was the only one who bathed all weekend. Couldn’t stand the thought of going without a bath! BTW, love your Superior Snaps…
    .-= Melissa B.´s last blog ..Aloha, OBX! =-.

  6. Oh, now I want to go to and hike through primordial forests and see limestones caves.

    These photos were stunning Jan! What a great retreat to try out your new camera.

    Thanks for joining ; -) I’m loving this. I might be stuck on the island, but get to travel through all your posts.
    .-= Pseudo´s last blog ..Travel Tip Thursday: Hale’iwa Arts Festival =-.

  7. I love nature, but generally only when it means a half mile (or less if I turn back) hike around the lake by my house. I’m not one for extended hiking either. The pics you took are breathtaking though. It almost looks like it’s worth the hike! 😉

  8. What a breathtaking place you photographed. So lush and mysterious, it lookes like a rain forest. My husband and I love hiking and are now going on a 10 day hike in the north of Portugal.

  9. Hi sweetie – Hocking Hills is one of our favorite get-aways as it’s only about 2 hours from where we live. We go on average twice a year and always stay at one of the cottages at Cherry Ridge Retreat which is just a couple of miles from the Park. Love it there so much and your pics reminded me of mine!! We were there right after the 4th of July and the weather was gorgeous but my back and leg injury would not let me do any hiking – so we drove around and took pictures and just spent quiet time – still a good thing. The farthest I managed was walking back to Ash Cave – I really wanted to go back to Old Man’s Cave; that’s my favorite. Such a lovely area. Hugs!
    .-= Croneandbearit´s last blog ..Extreme Home Makeover…in My City? Get Outta Here! =-.

  10. I’ve aLways been caught in that deadly paradox. On the one hand, hiking is exciting, a break from the daily grind, gives you that idea that you are free for a short time. One the other hand, hiking is a total nuscience.

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