The Ultimate Hocking Hills Guide

Ash Cave in Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills State Park offers some of the most beautiful outdoor exploration opportunities in the heart of Ohio. You’ll find numerous caves, hiking trails, and natural rock formations during your adventures to create the perfect getaway or vacation itinerary.

You’ll find all of these wonders in Hocking County, which was named after the local Hockhocking River. The original Shawnee name for the feature was Wea-tha-Kagh-Qua-sepe, or “bottle river.”

A waterfall of approximately 20 feet was originally part of the river’s flow, located about seven miles northwest of Lancaster. Above this feature, the river became straight and narrow, forming the basis of the name.

Today, you can find about 200 campsites, about a dozen cabin providers, and numerous lodging opportunities to help you explore the Hocking Hills. 

Approximately 25 miles of trail are available to explore. You can also find the unique caves and rock formations that bring people from all over the world to this little Ohio section.

About two million people visit per year. That means you’ll want to get your reservations early to ensure you have a place to stay during your trip! This guide will take you through what to expect when planning your upcoming adventure.

Hocking Hills Attractions to Enjoy

The Hocking Hills region is one of Ohio’s most famous natural destinations. You’ll find numerous restaurants, diners, cabins, campgrounds, and private inns waiting to accommodate your every need.

Even a zip line business was recently introduced to the area.

If you plan to spend a day, a week, or longer exploring the Hocking Hills, here are some of the best attractions to consider visiting.

  • Lakes. Lake Logan covers over 400 acres in Hocking Hills State Park. It is over two miles long, built in 1955 to provide recreational swimming, boating, and hiking opportunities.
  • Kayaking. You can rent canoes and kayaks to explore the various waterways found throughout the entire Hocking County region, with several options available within the park.
  • Parks and Preserves. In addition to the state park, you’ll find Hocking State Forest, Rockbridge State Nature Preserve, Lake Logan State Park, and the Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve within the region. If you travel further north to follow the Blackhand sandstone formations, Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve is available to tour.
  • Rock Climbing. Almost 100 acres are set aside for rappelling and climbing in the state forest.
  • Hunting and Fishing. The Division of Wildlife permits hunting and vision with appropriate licensure during each authorized season. You can do a little nymphing in Lake Logan. What is nymphing?

Additional activities you might find exciting in the Hocking Hills region include air tours, horseback riding, canopy tours, astronomy lessons, swimming, archery, and train rides.

Kayaking in Hocking Hills
“Hocking Hills 489” by Britt Reints. Used Under CC BY 2.0

If you take the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, you’ll get an intriguing glimpse into the region’s industrial history and its unique transportation challenges.

Best Hocking Hills Camping Opportunities

If you want direct access to Hocking Hills State Park, the best place to stay is at the campground located next to Old Man’s Cave. It’s a popular destination because it offers direct access to many of the trails in the area.

You’ll find electric sites with 20-, 30-, and 50-amp service available and full hook-ups. Non-electric options are available for tent campers.

Each site at the state park comes with a paved pad to accommodate a 50-foot trailer or RV.

You’ll have access to a swimming pool, playgrounds, a horseshoe pit, and a volleyball court. Heated showers, laundry facilities, and a full campground store ensure that you can get what you need.

Several primitive, hike-in-only sites are available by reservation. You can schedule your time at the park up to six months in advance. Check online or call 1 (866) 644-6727.

If this popular campground is full already when you’re planning a Hocking Hills adventure, these additional providers can keep you close to the state park and all of Ohio’s natural wonders in the area.

High Rock Hideaways

This campground provides 197 acres of space to explore with ten miles of developed hiking trails to enjoy. You’ll see seasonal waterfalls, Hemlock forests, and devil’s bathtubs at this destination. It’s secluded enough to provide peaceful moments while keeping you connected to what Mother Nature provides.

You have the option to rent cabins during your stay at this campground. You’ll be ten minutes from all of the park’s best trails. You can even go fishing on the property’s catch-and-release pond.

More information is available on the campground’s website. You can also call (740) 385-9851 to make your reservation.

Hocking Hills Campground

You’re a short drive from the state park when choosing this property for your camping needs. You’ll be right on the banks of the Hocking River, with access to canoe rentals and other unique recreational opportunities during your stay.

You’ll find a family fun center waiting for you there, riverside campsites, and access to all of the best opportunities to have fun in the region.

You’re also just minutes from Logan to get whatever supplies you need. More information is available by calling 1 (800) 686-0386 or (740) 385-8685.

Hocking River RV Park

You’re within walking distance of the Canoe Livery when parking your trailer or RV at this private campground. All sites are a 54-foot pull-through on the water, with the shower house closest to site 15 near the middle of the campground.

Each one offers picnic tables, fire rings, and 30-amp electric connections. A handful have 50-amp service. 

You’ll be about ten miles from the state park when staying here, but it is only two miles to Lake Logan. It’s also right down the street from a grocery store so that you can save on meal expenses.

Check availability by visiting their website or calling (740) 331-4840.

Knox Acres Campgrounds

If you prefer primitive campsites for your Hocking Hills adventure, considering this easily accessible property. It offers some of the best rates in the region, although only four options are available for reservations.

One site offers a maximum occupancy of eight. Another is perfect for a couple on a romantic getaway. The other two are suitable for a family of four when they want to enjoy Ohio’s great outdoors.

Call (740) 332-0950 to check on availability. You can also connect with the campground on Facebook.

Rookery Hills

If you don’t want any neighbors, this campground is the perfect place to be. It offers one space for an RV or camper!

You’ll receive sewer and water hook-ups with a 50-amp electrical connection. A small fishing pond that stays stocked, along with a large graveled area, encourage you to stay outside.

If you don’t have a camper or RV, reserve your accommodations at the Cardinal House instead. It provides a private hot tub, a large fire ring, and a woodland-themed bunk room for the kids. You’ll receive a well-stocked coffee bar, satellite TV, and Wi-Fi as part of the amenities.

The Cardinal House sleeps six, with children under 12 staying for free.

If you stay for six days, the seventh is free. More information is found online, or you can dial (740) 395-1316.  

Fantastic Hocking Hills Trails to Explore

Walk To Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills

Numerous hiking opportunities are available throughout the Hocking Hills region. When focusing on the state park alone, you’ll find several excellent options well-suited for everyone – including pets!

Here are some of the best trails to consider following so that you can see all of the beautiful natural wonders provided by Ohio’s outdoor wonderland.

1. Ash Cave Gorge

This natural feature is the signature attraction at Hocking Hills State Park. It’s an impressive recess, lined with beech and hemlock trees – along with several other hardwood species. You’ll see wildflowers lining the valley floor during almost every season.

The gorge itself is about a quarter-mile long. It stands with a horseshoe shape, with a rising cliff face that tops 90 feet in height.

Ash Cave Entrance In Hocking Hills

This area got its name from the massive ash mounds that the settlers found when exploring the area. The largest pile was over 30 feet wide, 100 feet long, and three feet deep. Although no one can confirm how they got there, the working theory is that various tribes started campfires here to stay warm.

Another theory suggests that people made saltpeter in the caves.

Picnic facilities and restrooms are available at this quarter-mile trail.

2. Ash Cave Rim

After you explore the massive overhang from below, take the half-mile rim trail to see this stunning rock formation. It’s a half-mile trail that takes you around the entire area to boost your heart rate a little. 

You may see some bigleaf magnolias and Canadian yew along the way. Several rare plants, including many that grow outside of their regular region, have made a home in the Hocking Hills.

3. Cantwell Cliffs

This trail is along the northern part of the Hocking Hills region. It’s approximately 17 miles from Old Man’s Cave when you follow State Route 374. Although the remote location may discourage some visitors, the two-mile trail is worth taking.

Cantwell Cliffs at Hocking Hills
Cantwell Cliffs C” by hickr is licensed under CC BY-SA 4.0

You can choose to take a trail to the valley floor or explore the rim. If you have time to do both, the shelter offered at Lookout Point provides an impressive view.

Several areas along the cliffs have high iron oxide concentrations, contributing a unique red color to the stone face. With narrow passageways and deep valleys, you’ll find this half-day adventure provides full-time fun.

4. Conkle’s Hollow

As you take the trail to the half-mile ravine, you’ll have vertical cliffs standing over 200 feet above your head. When combined with the forest canopy, some valley floor areas don’t receive much sunlight at all.

Hardwoods like birch and hemlock will surround you during your hiking excursion.

As the story goes, you’ll be following along the path of some Native Americans who stole a significant amount of money from local settlers. They came to this area of the Hocking Hills to hide what they’d taken until the danger passed.

One small recess along the gorge’s western end was only reachable by climbing a towering hemlock next to the cliff.

There were two trees. The legend says that they hid the treasure, cut down one of the hemlocks, and left the other to serve as the access point for when they wanted to retrieve the money.

When they finally returned to get it, the group found a storm had felled the other tree.

If the story is true, the stolen money remains somewhere in the cliffs, waiting to be found. 

5. Conkle’s Hollow Rim

You can reach multiple outcropping overlooks when taking this beautiful trail. Try starting on the left side so that you can enjoy all of the impressive overlooks unless you want to complete multiple hikes on the same day.

The highest cliffs in the Hocking Hills State Park are found here, which means you’ll need to watch your footing when encircling the gorge. It can provide challenges during all seasons, although the winter is incredibly dangerous.

You can see W.J. Conkle’s name engraved in the sandstone along the west wall, with 1797 listed as the work date.

6. Buckeye Trail

This trail is the primary long-distance hiking opportunity in the state park. It takes you across the three miles between Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. 

You can also follow another three-mile segment between Old Man’s Cave and the waterfall. 

7. Cedar Falls

This waterfall is the largest one you’ll find in the Hocking Hills region when measured by volume. It’s where Queer Creek cascades over the sandstone to create some impressive power. Early settlers even built a grist mill here in the 19th century to grind grain.

The name comes from the settlers who moved west from their original colonial homes. They mistook the beautiful hemlocks for cedar trees, providing the waterfall with its name.

You’ll find restrooms and a picnic area available to use in the parking area above the falls. The trail to reach this natural wonder is only a half-mile long.

8. Rock House

This trail takes you to the only genuine cave found in the state park. It provides a corridor that feels like a tunnel about 75 feet up a sandstone cliff.

When you arrive at the destination, you’ll find a ceiling stretching up to 25 feet in height. The primary corridor can reach 30 feet wide, while about 200 feet of space is available to explore. Water leaks from a horizontal joint that runs parallel to the cliff, causing the cave’s hollowing effect.

Seven Gothic-style windows and beautiful sandstone columns offered by Mother Nature give the Rock House a cathedral-like experience. Small recesses served as baking ovens for the tribal cultures that once called this area their home.

During the prohibition era, this destination earned itself a reputation for being the hideout for all sorts of criminals, ranging from horse thieves to murderers.

The trail is about one mile, taking 10-15 minutes for the average person to reach this beautiful masterpiece. 

Hocking Hills Lodging Opportunities

If camping, staying in cabins, or parking an RV isn’t your style, the Hocking Hills region offers several alternative lodging opportunities to enjoy.

Although you won’t find a five-star hotel resort here, several properties provide a comfortable bed and affordable rates.

Please note that some features and amenities may not be available because of COVID-19 restrictions or changing regulations. Calling ahead to ask what is available can help you avoid unexpected issues. 

1. Holiday Inn Express

With over 80 rooms, an exercise facility, and an indoor pool, this hotel tends to be the first one booked in Logan during the busy season. You’ll get the brand’s Smart Start breakfast, access to high-speed Internet, and pet-friendly rooms upon request.

Discounts are available for AARP and AAA members, along with a few other groups.

Rooms may come with a refrigerator and microwave for convenience.

If you have a larger family, booking your stay here may be challenging. The standard room accommodates five, which means you’ll need to book two rooms or reserve one of the property’s limited suites.

It may be cheaper to reserve one of the cabins in the area during the busy season rates.

You can call (740) 385-7700 to ask about room availability. Online reservations are also accepted. 

2. Baymont Inn and Suites

This property offers 58 rooms that provide straightforward accommodations. You’ll have more suite options available for larger families, which is a definite bonus. The property offers a hot tub and an indoor pool to use.

Complimentary breakfast comes with your stay. You’ll be only 12 miles from Old Man’s Cave, making it a convenient destination for your Hocking Hills getaway. It’s also convenient to reach the main roads when visiting the region’s other attractions.

If you prefer to stay in town to explore, you’re within walking distance to the local shopping center.

You can book your room online and find more information about this property on their website

3. Inn Towner Motel

This two-star property features 21 units. You’ll receive heat and A/C controls, a bathtub-shower combination, and cable television. You’re within walking distance from the downtown shopping opportunities found in Logan. 

When you book a room here, you’ll get a free pass to the city’s swimming pool to use.

You’re also only 15 minutes to Old Man’s Cave and five minutes to Lake Logan at this destination. It’s a no-frills, budget-friendly experience. You must contact the property directly at (740) 385-2465 for availability. 

4. Sleep Inn

This national chain provides another no-frills experience for your stay in Logan and the Hocking Hills region. It is one of the most affordable rooms you’ll find, and the updated décor is remarkably clean and luxurious for the price.

Each room offers USB ports for charging mobile devices. Premium bedding, kitchen facilities, and more are available in each guest room. A free breakfast, free coffee, and free Wi-Fi are all part of your stay to help you stay connected.

You’re ten minutes from downtown Logan at this motel. That means you’re only a mile from Lake Logan State Park.

You can book your room directly by visiting the Choice Hotels online reservation system

5. The Worthington

This beautiful boutique hotel puts you in the middle of historic Logan during your visit to the Hocking Hills region. It offers three dozen rooms, an atrium with an indoor pool, and a relaxed atmosphere for everyone to enjoy.

You’ll receive breakfast included with your room rate. Personal services are available, with free parking and motorcycle spaces.

It’s a brand-new property with a lot to offer! More information is available on the hotel’s website or by calling (740) 385-1111.

You can also connect with them on Facebook.

6. Mainstay Suites

This property is part of the Sleep Inn complex in Logan. It’s only an hour from Columbus while putting you in the heart of the Hocking Hills.

Choose this option for a long-term stay with a larger family. You’ll receive an apartment-style layout with the perks of being at a hotel. It’s a 100% smoke-free environment with premium air filtration to help you breathe easier. 

It’s a pet-friendly spot with an exercise room, business center, and free breakfast. If you want to live like you’re at home, you won’t find a better option outside of renting a cabin or using Airbnb for your trip. 

You can check availability or book a room by visiting the hotel’s online reservation system.

Caves Found in Hocking Hills, Ohio

The sandstone cliffs found along the Hocking Hills region are the perfect medium for Mother Nature’s cave-building activities.

Although many of the sites are more of an overhang than a genuine cave, you’ll still find these destinations to be some of your favorite places to visit.

Between Highway 333 and State Route 328, you’ll find several spots to embrace your adventurous spirit. Here are some of the cave destinations that take you beyond Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave.

Walk to Old Man's Cave in Hocking Hills Ohio

Option #1: Whispering Cave

This cave is a small access point found along a short trail from Old Man’s Cave. The best time to visit is right after it has rained because a waterfall forms here during those times. You’ll see a massive creek running along the path there, some pretty rock formations, and tall trees providing shade from the sun.

This trail is the newest one in the park. You can choose to start at the Visitor’s Center. Inside the cave, the state park has built steps and a formal path to help you explore the recess at your convenience.

It is a rugged trail with steps, so plan accordingly before your visit.

Option #2: Hocking Hills Serenity Salt Cave

If you’d rather relax than explore, this therapeutic destination provides a spa-like atmosphere to help you decompress. Turn the salt cave into a place where you can enjoy a 45-minute halotherapy session to feel cleansed.

Services are by appointment only. The guidelines to follow during your visit may update without notice, so it may help to connect on Facebook.

It is an all-natural and chemical-free way to reduce inflammation, improve breathing capacity, and promote better sleep.

If you’re interested in an appointment, services are bookable online for your convenience.

Option #3: 21 Horse Cave (Chapel Cave)

It takes about 20 minutes to make your way to this cave from the main parking area at Hocking Hills State Park. Half of the trail takes you through the gorge, while the other lets you explore the rim.

It’s not one of the more popular destinations in the park, which means you can sometimes walk the entire circuit without encountering anyone. 

You’ll want to pack your bug spray for this adventure. When it gets warm after a rain, numerous mosquitos and flies come buzzing your way.

It is off of the trail, so you’ll need to watch for some landmarks to avoid getting lost. 

  • After following the main path, you’ll come to a twin waterfall. You’ll need to transition from the orange to the white trail.
  • It takes several minutes of hiking to reach a large boulder.
  • Turn to the right and head up the hill. The cave will be to your left.

Option #4: Buzzard Cave

If you go outside of the state park’s region, you’ll find this cave snuggled into a fun little hiking option just off of State Route 278, north of Zaleski. Consider adding this option to your itinerary if you plan to visit Lake Hope State Park during your state.

It’s a nice little cave without any standout features beyond the fact that it’s relatively isolated. If you want to hike with the family without feeling pressured by tourism or time, this choice provides the relief you desire.

Option #5: Moonville Tunnel

Although it’s not technically a cave, this tunnel is the perfect spot for some autumn foliage. It is also part of the haunted history of the region. It’s way out in the middle of nowhere on the Moonville Rail Trail, letting you see Zaleski State Forest and the Lake Hope State Park wetland areas.

A long history of train accidents at the tunnel has fueled the paranormal stories in the region. There used to be a town there with about 100 people calling it home in 1856. It was exclusively a mining town, which meant it became abandoned when the work dried up. 

The ghosts have chosen to live in the tunnel instead of the local cemetery. Will you see something unusual during your trek to this historic destination? 

Are You Ready to Explore Hocking Hills?

Whether you prefer to camp, stay in a cabin, or book a hotel room, you’ll find comfortable accommodations awaiting your arrival in Hocking County.

Old Man's Cave Walk At Hocking Hills

The Hocking Hills is one of Ohio’s best natural treasures. You can plan a getaway of any length and always come up with something new to do each day. From the sandstone cliffs to the region’s haunted history, it is one of the most diverse areas in the United States to tour.

Opportunities are available throughout the year. The spring and fall tend to be the peak visitation times, so planning your adventure outside of those windows can save you some money. It’ll also keep the trails clearer for your exploration efforts. 

Early settlers found handprints on the sandstone when they first arrived. Although you shouldn’t leave a mark during your visit to preserve the Hocking Hills for others, this spot will leave behind fantastic memories. Plan your stay today!

Andy Beckman

Andy and his wife Niki had their twins Adilynn and Archer, in 2014. By 2017 the whole family was camping. It is a great way to unplug from the daily grind and focus on what it means to be a family. They started a YouTube channel in early 2020 and enjoyed creating content that new RVers find useful.

Recent Posts