Hocking Hills State Park

hocking hills state park

Originally from south central Ohio, I’ve visited the Hocking Hills a number of times in my life. Needing to stretch our legs and get the pup out of the house, Natalie and I set off for Hocking Hills State Park, and specifically Old Man’s Cave, despite the rainy forecast.

Hocking Hills State Park Lodge

I feel like I grew up in the park. The first visit I can find is a super 8 movie that my mom took when we visited the new Hocking Hills Lodge in 1972. My dad was an electrician at the time and had worked on the then new lodge from start to finish. He was clearly proud in showing off his work to my mom and my aunt and uncle. Later in the video we make the trip to Rock House, which is always one of my favorite stops in the Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills State Park Upper Falls
The Upper Falls in Hocking Hills State Park.

I’d revisit the lodge multiple times over the years for dinner in the big dining room or for trips to the outdoor pool. Then in 1989, I attended my best friend’s wedding reception at the lodge. It was a beautiful location. The lodge sadly was destroyed by fire in 2016. Plans are underway to complete a new lodge on the same site, this time with guest rooms.

Hocking Hills State Park Campgrounds

Our time in the Hocking Hills was not relegated to the lodge as we spent time every summer at the state park campground. I remember time spent fishing at the lake, hiking the trails, swimming in the pool, and riding bikes on the paved camp roads. Evenings were spent sitting around the campfire, listening to it crack and pop.
But my favorite part of camping in the Hocking Hills was check-in. Most camping check-ins presented a straight forward affair. You waited in the truck while your dad went in to register the spot.

A woman and her dog pose at the park entrance for Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio
Natalie and Pumpkin pose at the signed entrance to the Hocking Hills State Park, Old Man’s Cave.

But not the campground at Old Man’s Cave! To get to the check-in, campers had to pull across a shallow stream. Because the line was frequently backed up with weekend traffic, this meant creek wading for me and most of the other kids waiting in line.

The area has been remodeled in the last few years. And while, I’m certain the new campground entrance is indeed an improvement, I will always fondly remember the old check-in procedure and the friends I made waiting in line.

A small waterfall in the Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.
One of many small waterfalls just off the trail at Hocking Hills State Park.

Trips to the Hocking Hills were not limited to over night stays, nor were they limited to any one particular season. We made visited the caves in the fall when all the leaf peeping tourists were out, in the winter when the trails were perilous and near empty, and in the spring and summer when the waterfalls cascaded down the cliffs.

Hiking Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park is made up of six distinct areas: Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Rock House and Conkles Hollow. Old Man’s Cave is perhaps the most famous and can also draw the largest crowds on weekends. The area is comprised of both the Upper Falls and the Old Man’s Cave, which is a recessed cave carved from sandstone.

A woman and her dog pose along side Old Mans Cave hiking trail in Ohio.
Natalie and Pumpkin posed in their matching raincoats at several spots on the trail.

One of my favorites is Rock House. I like it because it’s a cave that, well looks like a cave. Actually it looks like it’s name. It looks like a rock house. Hold on to little ones tightly here.

When I was younger, my mother always favored Cedar Falls. There’s no cave here to speak of, but a really nice walk and several waterfalls. We spent hours hear searching in creeks for crawdads and standing under little waterfalls.

Hocking Hills in the Rain

But on this past rainy Tuesday, Natalie, Pumpkin and I set off for Old Man’s Cave. It was beautiful, with fog rising from the forest floor giving the landscape an otherworldly look.

Signage directs hikers to the Upper Falls and Old Mans Cave Trails in Hocking Hills State Park in Ohio.
It was a bit muddy on this rainy Tuesday. Signs point the direction to the Upper Falls and Old Man’s Cave trails.

We headed first in the direction of the Upper Falls. It’s a moderate hike and we were surrounded by the sound of running water. As we crossed the bridge the rain suddenly became more intense. We decided to soldier on.

A woman and her golden doodle dog pose trailside in matching rain coats during their hike to Ohio's Hocking Hills.
Most of the steps are carved into the cliffside.

We made it to the Upper Falls and were able to snap a few shots. But as the rain persisted, we decided to cut our trip short and save the sandstone cave at the other end for another day. Our decision may have been impacted as much by Pumpkin’s attention span as it was by the persistent rain.

Plan a Visit to the Hocking Hills

It won’t be long before we are back in the Hocking Hills, and I’ll be certain to post more pictures. But for now, explore the official website for Hocking Hills State Park. You can get an overview for what is available in the park.

A woman and her dog pose on a trail bridge in southern Ohio.
Natalie and Pumpkin cross one of the many bridges on the trail.

And if you’re planning a longer or overnight trip, check out some of the great amenities in the area. There are a number of local restaurants, shops, zip lines, canoe liveries and more for a great Ohio vacation. And if camping is not for you, there are a number of cabins in the area. You’re sure to find something that fits your family or even your extended family.

A woman and her dog wade in the creek at Ohio's Old Man's Cave.
A reminder: if you’re bringing your dog, be certain to bring a few towels and blankets for the trip home!

With summer coming, you’re likely looking for some fun Ohio adventures. Check out the day trips sections for some great ideas around the Buckeye State. And, as always, we appreciate you sharing our content on your social media. Thanks for FindingOhio with us today.

2 thoughts on “Hocking Hills State Park

Comments are closed.