Ohio certainly has its share of natural beauty; however, most tourists are used to equating the Buckeye State with its cities—places like Cleveland, Cincinnati, and Columbus, where there’s plenty to see and do amid the hustle and bustle. But there is another side to Ohio that is often overlooked when it comes to spectacular scenery: the state’s Hocking Hills region.
Just a short hour south of Columbus, the Hocking Hills region is a hidden gem filled with dramatic vistas and outdoor scenery that rivals any in the Midwest. An exciting cuisine scene built on Ohio’s farm-fresh bounty perfectly complements an impressive wine scene, while the area’s distinctive setting is an idyllic wonderland for outdoor enthusiasts and nature lovers alike. A perfect escape for those looking for a rural retreat and secluded spot to spend the weekend, Hocking Hills is indeed Ohio’s tranquilly tucked-away paradise.
Hocking Hills State Park
If the Hocking Hills region is famed for its stunning natural scenery like deep canyons, steep cliffs, and tall, rushing waterfalls, then the idyllic hemlocks and dramatic vistas at Hocking Hills State Park represent the area’s beauty at its best. A more than 10,000-acre sprawling wilderness wonder that’s been wowing nature lovers for nearly 100 years, the park has a plethora of scenic hiking trails that showcase the region’s distinctive geology—and offer visitors some of Ohio’s most spectacular outdoor settings.
Hiking At Hocking Hills State Park
There are seven distinct trails at Hocking Hills for intrepid adventurers of all skill levels, many of which have been re-routed for one-way (out-and-back) hiking. Below are just a few of the park’s most scenic spots.
- Ash Cave is an approximately half-mile trail that is divided into two parts—the first quarter mile is rated easy and is a wheelchair-accessible, asphalt trial through a hemlock-lined gorge before reaching Ash Cave and a waterfall. The last half mile is a series of steps ranked easy to moderate that leads along the rim. Finally, the trail can either lead back to the parking lot or continue on to Cedar Falls.
- Cedar Falls is a moderate trail that’s approximately a half mile long. Visitors should be aware that the trail does include steps that are considered somewhat strenuous. This path is rugged with plenty of rock formations and a boardwalk in addition to steps. Visitors can pick up this trail after Ash Cave.
- Old Man’s Cave is an approximately one to one-and-a-half-mile loop trail that has a variety of options for hikers that vary from moderate to strenuous (due to a steep incline and terrain). Some options include a spur trail to Broken Rock Falls or the Blue Trail via the Lower Falls (strenuous)
- Rock House is about a one-mile, one-way trail accessible from the upper or lower parking lot. It is considered moderate to strenuous (mainly because of its steps and steep incline)—but the views are worth it!
More Activities At Hocking Hills State Park
The scenic hikes at Hocking Hills are enough to satisfy any outdoor enthusiast’s thirst for nature—but there are a plethora of other fun activities in this stunning state park, too.
- Hit the target at the park’s archery range
- Explore the park on two wheels with Hocking Hills’ two mountain biking trails, the Purple Trail Loop (two miles, moderate) or the Orange Trail Loop (two miles, difficult)
- Pack a picnic
- Get on the water at Rose Lake; perfect for paddling, boating, or fishing
- Explore the rock climbing/rappelling area at the adjacent Hocking State Forest
- Get a bird’s eye view with a canopy tour
Hocking Hills Hotels
Cozy up at an idyllic lodging surrounded by some of the Hocking Hills’ most breathtaking scenery at one of these welcoming area accommodations.
- Inn at Cedar Falls is just a stone’s throw away from Hocking Hills State Park and offers guests a variety of accommodations, including yurts, cottages, geodomes, and cabins. 21190 State Route 374, Logan
- Whistlestop Bed and Breakfast is located in a lovely Victorian-style farmhouse and offers guests the perfect place to unwind—better yet; the private suite is perfect for a romantic getaway. 10609 Zeller Rd, Logan
- Worthington of Logan is a one-of-a-kind, tropical-themed boutique hotel in the heart of downtown Logan—guests will love its easy-breezy feel, complete with a Bali swimming pool, Tiki Breakfast Bar, and BYOB Happy Hour Lounge. 72 West 2nd Street, Logan
- The Lodge at Hocking College’s elevated yet rustic feels are the perfect spot to soak up the HH outdoorsy atmosphere. 15570 OH-691, Nelsonville
Wine And Dine In The Hocking Hills
Despite the region’s relatively small size, it still boasts a top-notch cuisine scene that showcases Ohio’s homegrown bounty with a number of delicious restaurants that have something for everyone. And don’t forget about the wine: the region is also home to an extensive wine scene; the chance for oenophiles and nature lovers alike to sit back, sip and soak up HH’s idyllic natural vistas.
- Le Petit Chevalier is a family-owned vineyard whose rolling hills and pastoral setting are second only to their delish sipping options. 26328 Locust Grove Rd, Creola
- Hocking Hills Winery is in the heart of the HH region and prides itself on its welcoming, bucolic atmosphere and outdoor patio—and wines that will please any vino lover. 3042 Freeman Road, Logan
- Little Fish Brewing Company proves that Hocking Hills’ heady brews are just as worthy as its wow-worthy wineries. 16197 St. Rt. 664, S. Logan
- Glenlaurel has it all: a sprawling lodging and estate, spectacular scenery, and world-class dining. 14940 Mount Olive Rd, Rockbridge
- Rhapsody is fine casual dining at its finest—and its downtown arts district setting is the ultimate place to chill out in the HH area. 18 Public Square, Nelsonville
Ohio’s Hocking Hills is a hidden gem spectacularly situated among some of the state’s most breathtaking natural wonders. Rolling green hills and pastoral farmland provide the area’s rich bounty that fuels its diverse, homegrown cuisine and wine scene; while the dramatic cliffs, deep caves, and stunning waterfalls of Hocking Hills State Park will enchant travelers looking for adventure amid some of the Buckeye State’s most beautiful scenery. The perfect place to unwind, this southern Ohio region is an idyllic rural retreat that may be the state’s best-kept secret.