Things to Do in Hocking Hills: Your Guide to Ohio’s Best State Park

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Unless you are from the state of Ohio (and even that isn't a guarantee), then you probably haven't heard of the Hocking Hills.

Located in southeastern Ohio near the town of Logan, “the Hocking Hills” generally refers to Hocking Hills State Park and Hocking Hills State Forest and all the caves, waterfalls, and hiking trails that are contained within them.

Yes, Hocking Hills is an outdoor-lover's paradise.

Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park
Inside Ash Cave

Even though I've lived in Ohio my entire life (and HAD heard of the place), I didn't visit Hocking Hills until I was nearly 30. Shame on me, I know.

Once I finally got there, I realized what all the hype was about – and knew that I definitely needed to share this corner of Ohio.

Bridge in Hocking Hills
Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park

My partner Elliot and I went down to the Hocking Hills for a long weekend in May. The weather was already warm (actually it was hot and humid already in southern Ohio!), but it was before the summer holidays kicked in, meaning we didn't have to deal with tons of people. (Because, even though many people outside of Ohio don't know about the Hocking Hills, it's actually the most-visited state park in Ohio!)

We spent the weekend doing all the “must-dos” in Hocking Hills, which included hiking, zip lining, relaxing in a hot tub, and more.

A trip to the Hocking Hills is usually meant to meld relaxation with some outdoor exploration, but if you're anything like me you probably still want to plan your trip out in advance.

Here, then, are all the top things to do in the Hocking Hills.

Things to do in the Hocking Hills

1. Go for a hike

Upper Gorge at Hocking Hills State Park

Hiking is definitely the main draw of Hocking Hills thanks to the unique rock formations, caves, and forests that can be found throughout the park.

The park has six main hiking areas, with most of them centered around natural sandstone rock formations. Elliot and I weren't up for any long hikes, but thankfully the most popular sites are easy to reach without hours of trekking.

Our favorite short hikes included:

1. Old Man's Cave

This is probably my favorite area of the Hocking Hills because of the scenery: forests, a gorge, caves, and even waterfalls. What more could you want?

Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park

There are a few different trail options in this area depending on where you start. We stopped at the visitor's center first and then headed for the Upper Falls for some photos.

Upper Falls at Hocking Hills State Park
Upper Old Man's Cave Falls

From there, we headed back the way we'd come and continued down to the gorge and Old Man's Cave itself. This huge recess cave got its name from a hermit named Richard Rowe who lived in the cave here back in the early 1800s.

Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park
Hiking at Hocking Hills State Park
Inside Old Man's Cave

2. Cedar Falls

Past the Lower Gorge beyond Old Man's Cave, you'll find the Queer Creek Valley. And here, tumbling down a sandstone chute, is Cedar Falls. The falls are at their peak in the spring, and it's not uncommon to find people swimming or soaking their feet here when it's warm.

Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills State Park

(I'm fairly certain swimming isn't actually allowed within state parks, though, so swim here at your own risk!)

3. Ash Cave

The most popular hike in Hocking Hills is to Ash Cave, a giant recess cave with a small waterfall tumbling over it. The hike to Ash Cave is only about half a mile long and is along a paved trail, making it accessible for nearly everyone.

To get to the cave from the main parking lot, you walk through a narrow gorge filled with hemlock and beech trees that suddenly opens up into the cave – it's quite impressive!

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio

Ash Cave itself is shaped a bit like a horseshoe and measures 700 feet wide and about 90 feet high.

Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park
Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park
Can you spot the teeny tiny person in this photo? Gives you an idea of how huge this cave really is!

Other popular hiking areas in the park include Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rock Bridge, which is the largest natural bridge in Ohio.

If you want to make a day of hiking, there's a 6-mile trail that starts at Upper Falls in the Old Man's Cave area and then continues on to Cedar Falls and then Ash Cave. The trail is called the Grandma Gatewood Trail, and it's actually part of the much longer Buckeye Trail.

Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio
Hiking in the Hocking Hills

2. Have fun zip lining

Because of the Hocking Hills' natural topography, it's actually kind of perfect for zip lining – which is probably why there are now multiple companies offering the activity in the area!

Elliot and I went zip lining with Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and did their SuperZip tour, which has you flying Superman-style through the forest at about 50 mph. We also checked out some of their other zip lines, including one (on the “X” Tour) that has you zipping INTO a cave!!

Zip lining in the Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills Canopy Tours also offers an off-road Segway adventure, which is an insanely fun way to explore the park and surrounding forest.

Off-road Segway tour in the Hocking Hills
These off-road Segways are FUN!

3. Taste some local wine

After all that outdoor adventure, you may need to add in a more relaxing activity in order to balance things out. I recommend checking out the Hocking Hills Winery, which opened in 2015. They serve their own locally-grown and crafted wines, along with others that they make with grape juice from around the world.

Wine tasting in the Hocking Hills

The coolest thing about this winery is that since they don't serve food beyond appetizers, they welcome patrons to order meals from local restaurants, or to bring their own food and use the grills on the outdoor patio. How cool is that??

4. Stay in a cabin

There are a variety of campsites in Hocking Hills State Park, and many visitors choose to pitch a tent or bring a camper van for the weekend. But for the true Hocking Hills experience, you'll need to rent a cabin in the woods.

Cabin rentals can be found throughout the county, many within a few miles' drive from the best hiking trails. Most will come fully equipped with a kitchen and barbecue or fire pit, and the good ones will have a hot tub out on the back porch so you can properly unwind and enjoy the nature.

Hocking Hills State Park

Elliot and I stayed in a cabin at Cedar Grove Lodging, which has beautiful wooden cabins near the Old Man's Cave trailhead. Our cabin had a full kitchen and a hot tub on the back porch and made for the perfect romantic getaway with a heavy dose of nature.

Other accommodation options worth checking out include:

And this of course is not an exhaustive list of everything you can do in the Hocking Hills! You can also rent canoes on Lake Logan and Lake Hope, go horseback riding through the park, or even go antique shopping in nearby Logan.

Check out this site for even more info on visiting the Hocking Hills.

When to visit Hocking Hills

Cedar Falls in Hocking Hills in the winter
Cedar Falls in the winter

While the late spring and summer months are the most popular times to visit Hocking Hills, it truly is a year-round destination. It's also beautiful in the fall when all the leaves change, and can also be visited during the quieter winter months.

(In fact, I love Hocking Hills in the winter! Just be sure to pack boots with good traction, or some Yaktrax shoe grips in case you run into icy trails.)

Have you ever been to the Hocking Hills? If not, is it somewhere you'd like to go now?

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"It's a dangerous business, going out your door. You step onto the road, and, if you don't keep your feet, there's no telling where you might get swept off to." - JRR Tolkien

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42 Comments on “Things to Do in Hocking Hills: Your Guide to Ohio’s Best State Park

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  1. I enjoyed reading your blog post! I work for The Hocking Hills LLC that provides information on the area! We would love it if we could collaborate in any way. Please let us know!

    Hi, Thanks for this. I’m a Hong Konger living in the UK, but we’re planning a trip to the US next year! We’ve been looking for some real off the beaten track destinations, Hocking Hills seems to tick all the boxes! Just trying to work out how we can fit it into our schedule (that’s the tricky bit)!

      Ohio in general is such an underrated state! New York and California (and Florida) are usually the go-tos for international visitors, but I could argue for days about how awesome Ohio is, too!

    I went to the Hocking Hills for a wedding a few years ago and absolutely fell in love with it. What a stunning, often overlooked part of the country that is, for sure!

      That’s awesome that you’ve been there! It really is a really special corner of Ohio.

    Amazing photos! My husband’s family is from Ohio and we didn’t know anything about this! We’ll have to visit next time we’re out there!

      Absolutely! It’s definitely worth a visit if you’re in the area.

    Living in Pittsburgh, Hocking Hills is definitely on my domestic bucket list! I’ve also had my eye on staying at the Glenlaurel Inn for eons now 🙂

    I’m most intrigued by Ash Cave, your photos are terrific. I never stand to be amazed by such incredible natural wonders!

      You definitely should go! It makes for a great weekend trip.

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