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8 Trails you must hike in Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills offers some of the best outdoor recreation in all of Ohio, so don't miss these trails during your visit.

By: Abby Shepard + Save to a List

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio covers over 2,300 acres of the Appalachian region of the state. Visitors and locals love the diverse plants and animals, and beautiful landscapes here. Hiking is one of the most popular ways to get to know the park. Here are ten favorite trails to add to your must-visit list!

1. Old Man's Cave

Distance: 0.3 miles
Elevation: 102 feet
Type: Loop

Old Man's Cave is the most popular trail in the park and my absolute favorite. The path leads through the gorge to waterfalls and a sandstone cave! Every January, the Hocking Winter Hike takes this route to marvel at the area's unique beauty - up to 5,500 people make the trek!

The cave is incredible, but the trail can get crowded during peak times. Weekdays are less busy than weekends. Go early in the morning or closer to dusk to avoid the crowds. Bring a headlamp if you go later! 

To see the falls, visit in the spring when the weather is the wettest. Travel in the morning to avoid high summer tempts in the afternoon from June to August. Catch beautiful fall foliage in September and October! 

This trail may be accessible for kids, but be sure your crew is wearing shoes with good treads - some spots can be slippery when wet.

2. Lower Falls

Distance: 1.22 miles
Elevation: 171 feet
Type: Loop

Don't skip this short detour from Old Man's Cave. This path is often busy, so come in the early morning or on a week day to encounter fewer people. Spring is the best time to see the falls, thanks to melting snow. The water can dry up by mid-summer in drought years.

Note: Swimming is not allowed in the streams and waterfalls within the park. Need to cool off? Head to nearby Lake Logan State Park.

3. Upper Falls

Distance: .13 miles
Elevation: 10 feet
Type: Out-and-back

Hit Upper Falls on your way back from Old Man's Cave. Here, you'll find this beautiful bridge and understand why Hocking Hills looks straight out of Lord of the Rings! The falls are most impressive during the spring melt, so wear shoes with good treads to maneuver potentially slippery trails.

4. Ash Cave

Distance: 0.5 miles
Type: Out-and-back

Ash Cave is near the southernmost part of Hocking Hills State Park. It was likely named after white settlers found a large pile of ashes (100 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 3 feet deep) from hundreds of years of Native American campfires. Later on, the cave hosted township meetings.

At 700 feet-long and 100 feet deep, this massive cave will make you feel tiny in an instant. People often pack a picnic and enjoy it in the shade of the cave overhang. Visit after rain or in the spring to spot a waterfall from the cave rim. The falls are typically dry in autumn, but the cave features a unique ice pile here during the winter!

Look for the large block near the cave entrance. Known as "Pulpit Rock," this feature was once the pulpit for Sunday worship service before a church was built.

There are picnic tables next to the trailhead parking lot, and the trail and adjacent restrooms are wheelchair accessible. 

5. Rock House

Distance: 0.5 miles
Type: Loop

Rock House is a unique cave-like formation carved into the side of a cliff. The naturally created tunnel is about 200 feet long and has a 40-foot-tall ceiling. The Rock House is the only natural arch in the state that has "windows," or openings where wind and water have eroded the rock.

Climb into the house and take a look around. Wear shoes with ample treads, as the rock can be slippery. May visitors head here in the fall when the temps are perfect for a stroll!

On-leash dogs are welcome, so consider bringing your canine pal!

Note: Get up close to the rock to see names and dates from the 1800s carved into the walls. While seeing this historic vandalism is neat, please do not continue this tradition by adding your own graffiti. 

6. Cedar Falls

Distance: 0.38 miles
Elevation: 56 feet
Type: Out-and-back

This short hike takes you to a stunning 50-foot waterfall that twists through eroded stone. 

Note: You can reach the falls by parking at the Upper Parking Lot and taking the Democracy Steps. The stairway architect, Akio Hizume, is an artist and mathematician and created these unique steps based on the Fibonacci Sequence. The stairs arch gracefully upward, encouraging visitors to walk at a slow, relaxing pace.

7. Cantwell Cliffs

Distance: 1 mile
Elevation: 100 feet
Type: Loop

Take the Cantwell Cliffs hike in northern Hocking Hills State Park if you're looking for a little solitude. This lesser-known path includes walking next to and under a sandstone cliff and even walking a staircase between cliffs. This path might be the Zion Narrows of the Midwest, thanks to the winding path through rock formations. 

Expect the pathway to be muddy in the spring and after rain, so wear appropriate footwear. The stairs can be treacherous after rain, so take that into consideration when choosing when to visit. Drier weather can make for a less slippery, easier hike.

8. Conkle's Hollow: Gorge and Rim Trail

Distance: 3 miles
Elevation: 200 feet
Type: Loop

Take the time to hike both the gorge and rim trails. Both are spectacular and completely different. While the gorge trail winds through the canyon-like gorge between the cliffs, the rim trail takes you along the very edge of the gorge. I recommend catching a sunset from the rim trail.

Wherever you go in Hocking Hills, you're in for some amazing sights!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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