Area Attractions

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Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is a non-contiguous state park located in the Hocking Hills region of the U.S. state of Ohio, in Hocking County, and embedded within the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are several spectacular features based around rock formations, including Old Man's Cave, a narrow, deep gorge featuring waterfalls; Rockhouse, a cliffed area with a rock shelter; Cantwell Cliffs, a broad gorge at the head of a hollow with a unique stone stairway; and Ash Cave and Cedar Falls, large rock shelters with waterfalls.

The park is in four separate sections. The largest includes Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls. Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rockhouse are each separate sections.

Nearby are also other attractions of the Hocking Hills, including Hocking Hills State Forest, Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, Lake Logan State Park, and Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. The North Country Trail passes through the complex, where it is coincident with the Buckeye Trail and the American Discovery Trail. The most important segment of this trail in the Hocking Hills is known as the Grandma Gatewood Trail.

The deep gorges and high cliffs result from the erosion-resistant Blackhand Sandstone, which extends well to the northeast of the Hocking Hills. A number of uncommon and even rare plants are known from this area, including plants that are outside their normal range. Canadian yew, bigleaf magnolia and many others may be found here.

Many of the locations in Hocking Hills State Park, such as Old Man's Cave provided inspiration for location names in Jeff Smith's Bone (comics) series.


From the Hocking Hills State Park website (


Nature of the Area

The natural history of this region is as fascinating as the caves are beautiful • Here, in these sandstones and shales, one can read Ohio's history from the rocks • The scenic features of the six areas of the Hocking Hills State Park complex are carved in the Blackhand sandstone • This bedrock was deposited more than 350 million years ago as a delta in the warm shallow sea which covered Ohio at that time • Subsequent millions of years of uplift and stream erosion created the awesome beauty seen today.

The sandstone varies in composition and hardness from softer, loosely cemented middle zone to harder top and bottom layers • The recess caves at Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave and Cantwell Cliffs are all carved in the softer middle zone • Weathering and erosion widened cracks found in the middle layer of sandstone at the Rock House to create that unusual formation

Other features of the rock include cross-bedding, honeycomb weathering and slump blocks • The first is noticeable as diagonal lines in the rock intersecting horizontal ones • It is actually the cross section of an ancient sand bar in the delta and was caused by changing ocean currents • Honeycomb weathering looks like the small holes in a beehive comb • They are formed by differential weathering which comes about when water, moving down through the permeable sandstone, washes out small pockets of loosely cemented sand grains • Finally, the huge slump blocks of rock littering the streams tumble from near by cliffs when cracks widen to the extent that the block is no longer supported by the main cliff

Although the glaciers never reached the park areas, their influence is still seen here in the form of the vegetation growing in the gorges • The glaciers changed the climate of all Ohio to a moist, cool environment. Upon their retreat, this condition persisted only in a few places such as the deep gorges of Hocking County • Therefore, the towering eastern hemlocks, the Canada yew and the yellow and black birch tell of a cool period 10,000 years ago

History of the Area

The hollows and caves of the park complex have long attracted the peoples of Ohio • Evidence of the ancient Adena culture illustrates man first inhabited the recesses more than 7,000 years ago

In the mid 1700's several Indian tribes traveled through or lived here including the Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee • Their name for the river from which the park gets its name was Hockhocking of "bottle river" • The name comes from the bottle-shaped valley of the Hocking River whose formation is due to its one-time blockage by glacial ice

After the Greenville Treaty of 1795, numerous white settlers moved into the region and Hocking County was organized in 1818 • The area around the parks began to develop in 1835 when a powder mill was built near Rock House and a grist mill was constructed at Cedar Falls

The cave areas were well-known as scenic attractions by 1870 • In 1924, the first land purchase by the state was made to preserve the scenic features • This first parcel of 146 acres included Old Man's Cave • Subsequent purchases built acreage while the areas existed under the Department of Forestry as State Forest Parks • The Department of Natural Resources was created in 1949 and the new Division of Parks assumed control of the Hocking Hills State Park complex, which today includes the six park areas • A dining lodge and cottages were opened in 1972 • These cottages, together with a campground, provide overnight facilities in one of the most beautiful areas of our state

From the Official Visitors Guide of Hocking Hills (


Old Man’s Cave
Named after a Civil War-era hermit, Old Man’s Cave features waterfalls, swirling pools, deep gorges and massive rock formations. Picturesque sites include the Devil’s Bathtub, Old Man’s Cave, Sphinx Head, Upper Falls, Lower Falls and Broken Rock Falls. Entrance to hiking trails and this area of the Hocking Hills Park is located on St. Rt. 664 at the Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center.

Cedar Falls
Some of the most magnificent terrain in the area can be seen as you hike through a succession of beautiful valleys and a steep-walled gorge to stand beside this waterfall, which flows magnificently over 50 feet of cliff face. Deep grooves and craggy potholes were created by cascading water over the face of breathtaking Black Hand sandstone. Enter this area of the Hocking Hills Park from St. Rt. 374 between St. Rts. 664 and 56.

Ash Cave
Ash Cave is the largest recess cave in Ohio. Its rim of the cave spans more than 700 feet around a sandstone horseshoe. A misty waterfall plunges 90 feet from the rim to the valley floor below. The roof of Ash Cave measures 100 feet from the edge of the rim to the cave’s deepest part. Ash Cave features an easy, scenic walk to the cave and waterfall. This path and much of the Hocking Hills Park area is fully wheelchair accessible. Ash Cave entrance is located on St. Rt. 56.

Rock House
Rock House is particularly unique in the Hocking Hills region, as it is the only true cave in the park. This grand tunnel-like corridor is situated midway up a 150-foot cliff of Black Hand sandstone. Throughout the region’s rich history, Rock House was used as shelter by many, including Native Americans and early settlers who often hid in the cave after committing robberies. Entrance to this area of the Hocking Hills Park is located on St. Rt. 374 and Thompson Road, north of Conkle’s Hollow.

Cantwell Cliffs
Located furthest north of the six Hocking Hills State Park areas, Cantwell Cliffs is a massive overhanging horseshoe-shaped cliff. Its sheer drop-off plummets more than 150 into a gorge. A rock shelter, recess cave and large slump rocks make Cantwell Cliffs a favorite among visitors. One particularly narrow point on the trail, known as "Fat Woman’s Squeeze," gives larger hikers an unexpected challenge. This area in the Hocking Hills Park is located on St. Rt. 374 near the village of Rockbridge.

Lake Logan State Park
Lake Logan was developed by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources in 1955 for recreational purposes. It’s now one of the finest fishing lakes in Ohio. Lake Logan sports northern pike, bass, bluegill, crappie, catfish and saugeye. This day-use park provides scenic picnic and swimming areas, as well as secluded walking paths where visitors enjoy the wooded beauty of Ohio’s hill country and this Hocking Hills Park. Lake Logan State Park is located just south of U.S. 33 on St. Rt. 664, turn on Lake Logan Road.

Clear Creek Metro Park
The largest park in the Metro Parks’ system presents an array of ecosystems that are the result of the past geologic events and climatic patterns. Wildlife abounds. More than 800 flowering plants have been identified in the area. Fishing is permitted on five miles of Clear Creek. A naturalist is available to present programs or lead cultural history walks for organized groups at prescheduled times. This Hocking Hills Park is located at U.S. 33 and Hocking County Road 114 (Clear Creek Road).

Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve
This gorge offers hikers the natural beauty of the precipitous sandstone cliffs and the serenity of a shaded, cool valley floor. The narrowness of the gorge, the height of the sandstone walls and the countless hemlocks that grow in the hollow, screen the sunlight, preventing much of it from touching the floor of the gorge. The rim trail is also available for more experienced, cautious hikers. This Hocking Hills Park offers a thrilling view of Conkle’s Hollow and the surrounding hills. St. Rt. 374 and Big Pine Road.

Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
The natural arch or bridge known as Rockbridge is more than 100 feet long and 10 to 20 feet wide. It gracefully arches 50 feet spanning a beautiful ravine. Considered to be the largest natural bridge in the state, it’s the highlight of an area known for a diverse selection of wildflowers. The natural Rockbridge is accessible by hiking trail or canoe.

Hocking State Forest
Hocking State Forest is managed under the multiple-use concept with special emphasis on maintaining or creating a forest cover that will enhance woodland recreation. Natural vegetation provides an unusual variety of native plant and associated wildlife. Activities include bridal trails, rock climbing and rappelling, hunting and fishing and hiking. Forest offices are located at 19275 St. Rt. 374. Rock Climbing and Repelling area is on Big Pine Road past Conkle’s Hollow.

Tar Hollow State Park and Forest
Twisting park and forest roads pass through deep ravines and dense woodlands. Scattered shortleaf and pitch pines growing on the ridges were once a source of pine tar for early settlers, hence the name Tar Hollow. Dogwoods, redbuds and a variety of wildflowers color the hillsides in the springtime. Fall’s pageant of color is spectacular. The state park offers 21 miles of hiking trails and 33 miles of bridle trails. 16396 Tar Hollow Road near Laurelville.

Lake Hope State Park
Lake Hope State Park lies entirely within the 24,000-acre Zaleski State Forest in the valley of Big Sandy Run. It is a rugged, heavily forested region traversed by steep gorges and narrow ridges. Abandoned mines, ancient mounds and beautiful scenery provide interest and pleasure for hikers, photographers, nature lovers and historians alike. Includes a campground, cottages, a restaurant, hiking and bridle trails. Located near Nelsonville at 27331 State Route 278 in McArthur.

Wayne National Forest
The Wayne National Forest is a slice of classic Americana. The countryside is a blend of forested hillsides and pastureland. The history of the area is interwoven with the present -- from ancient Adena Indian mounds in the center of small communities, to covered bridges along rural roads, or the skeletal remains of the great rock iron furnaces. The Wayne lies in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains. Much of the Wayne National Forest was strip mined at the turn of the century, so part of the Forest is in various stages of reclamation and revegetation. The Wayne is popular for its ORV, mountain bike, horse and hiking trails. These trails travel through some of the most striking landscapes that Ohio has to offer with a variety of vegetation, rock outcrops, and many species of wildlife.

Kessler Swamp State Nature Preserve
A recent gift to ODNR, the Kessler Swamp Nature Preserve is located on Hide-Away Hills road,  adjacent to the Hide-Away Hills community. A variety of wetland-dwelling plants thrive in the swamp, including button-bush and bur-marigold. During the spring and fall migration period, the preserve offers excellent waterfowl viewing. The interior is not accessible to foot traffic; however, there is a small vehicle pull-off area and an observation deck where visitors can observe wildlife in an undisturbed setting.