Travelers from coast to coast are heading to the Hocking Hills for holiday fun and secluded cabin retreats. Mother Nature determined the appeal of this region millions of years before the first traveler arrived. The Hocking Hills was under the Atlantic Ocean 330 million years ago. Over millions of years the waters receded and erosion resulted in the iconic rock formations found today.
The main attraction is the Hocking Hills State Park. Six non-contiguous parks form Ohio’s most visited State Park. Old Man’s Cave, named for the recluse who made the cave his home in the late 18th century, is the most popular of the parks.
Connected to Old Man’s Cave via the Grandma Gatewood Trail is Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. The trail carries the name of the first woman to ever thru-hike all 2,168 miles of the Appalachian Trail. Emma “Grandma” Gatewood was also a founder of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail. The Grandma Gatewood Trail is part of the original twenty miles of the Buckeye Trail. This section is six miles one-way.
Every January the park hosts the Hocking Hills Winter Hike. Thousands of hikers traverse the Grandma Gatewood Trail with a rest stop at Cedar Falls for the local Kiwanis Club’s legendary bean soup and corn muffins before continuing to Ash Cave and the busses that carry hikers back to their cars. The scenic splendor of winter in the Hocking Hills is ample reward for braving the chilly weather.
Cedar Falls got its name from early settlers who mistook hemlock trees for cedar trees. Cedar Falls is the most active waterfall in the Hocking Hills flowing nearly fifty feet to the bottom of the ravine. Ash Cave is the largest recessed cave east of the Mississippi. The 700-foot horseshoe shaped cave features a seasonal waterfall dropping nearly 100 feet from the rim of the cave. Some winters the waterfall will freeze to the ice formation below for a rare photo opportunity.
Two very different trails attract hikers to Conkle’s Hollow, the Park’s only State Nature Preserve. Most of the gorge trail is paved and wheelchair accessible. The trail leads into the gorge of the hollow and its dramatic rock formations with a waterfall at the end of the trail. Conkle’s Hollow rim trail is a much more strenuous hike and the view from the rim makes every step worth it.
Rock House is the only cavernous cave of all the parks. The other sandstone caves are open at the top. The light play on the walls of Rock House makes the park a favorite with photographers. According to local legend, this cave was a popular hideout for outlaws and bootleggers.
Cantwell Cliffs trails are the most rugged and remote. Cantwell Cliffs offers hikers the best of two worlds. The high rim trails offer far-reaching vistas of breathtaking beauty, while the valley trail makes the visitor feel diminutive when walking at the base of the cliffs.
There’s a lot more than hiking to entice travelers to the Hocking Hills. The neighboring Hocking State Forest has 40 miles of bridle trails, and several private stables offer guided rides in and beyond state forest lands. The natural rock formations are perfect for rock climbing and rappelling. Lake Logan and Rose Lake give anglers a picturesque spot to drop a line for the catch of the day.
It’s no surprise the bucolic landscape provides inspiration for a vibrant art community. Shops and galleries feature one-of-a-kind works created by local artisans. Locally-owned eateries offer the best of authentic comfort cuisine. Wineries, breweries and distilleries serve up libations with live entertainment on the side.
Join the Hocking Hills Treasure Hunt from November 1 to December 12. Collect six stamps from participating shops and be entered to win one of more than twenty-five prizes including a grand prize of a Hocking Hills getaway including a two-night stay in a cabin, zipline tours, canoe tours and dinner for four.
Let yourself be transported to a simpler time when the Logan Christmas Parade arrives on Main Street the first Saturday of December. Local businesses, schools, clubs and more bring holiday spirit to the historic downtown of the Hocking Hills’ hometown.
Indulge in authentic comfort food during the Annual Comfort Food Cruise in January. The self-guided cruise takes foodies to local restaurants each featuring a serving of a signature comfort food.
After a full day of outdoor adventures, it’s time to relax. More than one thousand vacation rentals pepper the hills. Cozy cabins tucked in the woods make for an ideal romantic hideaway.
Have a holiday gathering of the whole family in a luxury lodge with all the comforts of home combined with plenty of space to spread out.
Nature’s lullaby of sounds will send you off to sweet dreams of your next day exploring all the Hocking Hills has to offer. Begin your holiday adventure at ExploreHockingHills.com.
Hocking Hills for a Holiday Hike