Hocking Hills: Home of Old Man’s Cave, Waterfalls, and Hiking
Have you ever wanted a chance to get away from the city, away from work for just a day or a long weekend? If you are within driving range, the Hocking Hills area of Ohio there is lots of nature being offered just south of Logan, Ohio. The Hocking Hills region is home to nine state parks with 1000’s of acres of forest land, abundant streams, waterfalls, fishing, hiking, camping, and horse riding. And if you are looking to get away for more than a day there are a large number of cabins for rent in the area. Three of the more majestic areas within the region are Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave and Cedar Falls.
Old Man’s Cave was named for the hermit Richard Rowe who lived in the area around 1800. The legend has it that when Richard died the local Indians buried him within the cave. The area surrounding the cave features a set of trails that follow the stream from the upper falls to the lower falls. Both the upper and lower falls contain spectacular waterfalls that will enthrall photographers of all skill levels. The hike in this area takes about an hour to get from the upper falls to the lower falls and back again. Most of the journey is on paved paths with a good number bridges across the stream and stairs up and down the path. The trail between the two falls is deep within the rocky ridges that house the stream. Trees and moss try to cling to any perch they can find.
Another impressive feature of the parks is Ash Cave. The cave is named for the Indian fire pit that was originally found underneath the outcropping of the rock formation. One theory for explaining the ashes found there is that Indians were smelting lead or silver in the cave. Most of the area under the cave is covered in reddish brown sand that has crumbled off the rock formations that make up the structure. The tallest of the waterfalls within the Hocking Hills area is found here and tumbles over the top of the cave. The water is almost entirely mist by the time it reaches the bottom of the fall. The stream that results from the waterfall crosses back and forth and is bridged several times by the trail leading up to the cave from the parking area. In this rock formation as well, the trees are continually trying to find any purchase they can. Several even grow down and away from the protruding edge of the cave roof. The hiking time to get to the cave from the parking area and take the trail up on top and back is around an hour.
Cedar Falls is not the tallest of the falls in the area, but it does have the most water flowing through it. Old Man’s Creek and Queer Creek meet and take the falls into this picturesque gorge. Large numbers of Hemlock trees grow within the valley. Cedar Falls was named because the original settlers misidentified the Hemlock trees. This set of falls can also be approached from the top and is another great place to take some photos. This gorge is full of color in the fall as the leaves begin to change. Hiking through the area and around the falls takes about one and a half hours.
Overall these three areas within the Hocking Valley are connected with a longer trail. This trail isn’t for the faint of heart as it measures six miles long. Just the three mile section from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave is a two mile hike one way. Within a short drive there are also several small shops. Of particular note are the wind chime store and Christmas store. Both are nestled back in the woods on small country roads with trees surrounding them. The signs in the area are clear on the location of the park’s attractions.
All in all, the Hocking Hills Area makes a great day trip in which to get away. And with all the camping and cabins nearby it would make a fine three day weekend vacation. Photographers will find that there are some great photos to be taken even on darker days. The trails in the area ranges from tame to challenging, which offers something interesting for most hikers.