Take in Hocking Hills State Park’s natural beauty by hitting one of the park’s many hiking trails. Journey to one of Hocking Hills’ beautiful waterfalls or explore Ohio’s wild side while hiking along Old Man’s cave trail.
Deemed one of the most scenic state parks in Ohio, Hocking Hills is full of cascading waterfalls, rugged gorges, sheer rock walls, and towering cliffs. Whether it is a kid-friendly trail or a more thrilling hike, our list of the best hikes in Hocking Hills has something for every type of hiker.
As always, please check the state park website for updates on trail closures, pandemic protocol, and construction before venturing on your Hocking Hills getaway.
Where Is Hocking Hills Located
Tucked away in the southeastern portion of Ohio in Logan County is Hocking Hills, State Park. The park is relatively central, making it a wonderful Ohio road trip. There is plenty of lodging options, including Tiny Houses, camping, restaurants, and activities.
Distance To Hocking Hills
- Cincinnati To Hocking Hills: 2 hours and 15 minutes; roughly 135 miles
- Cleveland To Hocking Hills: 3 hours; roughly 200 miles
- Athens To Hocking Hills: 42 minutes; roughly 29 miles
- Columbus to Hocking Hills: 1 hour, roughly 57 miles
Address: 19852 State Route 664 S Logan, Ohio 43138
Hocking Hills Kid-Friendly Trails
Ash Cave Hiking Trail
Our absolute favorite Hocking Hills Trail is the Ash Cave hiking trail. Ash Cave does tend to be one of the park’s most popular trails, but for a good reason. Ash Cave is the most impressive recess cave in the state. The cave got its name from the bushels of ashes that were found within. A small waterfall is created from the tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek, cascading over the rim into a small pool below. During the winter months, it is known to freeze, creating a spectacular sight.
There is a good size parking lot located across the street from the trailhead. Restrooms and picnic tables are available. What makes this hike ideal for kids is that the trail leading to the cave is paved. Parents could even bring a stroller if they wanted. Pets are also welcome along the route so long as they are leashed.
The Ash Cave Gorge Trail is handicap accessible and is 1/4 mile long that takes visitors directly to the cave. Guests then return the way they came or can venture on to the Ash Cave Rim Trail.
The Ash Cave Rim Trail is 1/2 mile long, includes some hazardous cliffs but is relatively easy.
Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve – Gorge Trail
Another great kid-friendly trail is the Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve Gorge Trail. This majestic gorge is full of grottos, waterfalls, and cliffs. The Gorge Trail is a paved, handicap-accessible trail that takes guests through the heart of the gorge. Stop in to explore the grotto, enjoy a quiet moment by the stream while taking in the rocky formations. Rumor has it that there is a large sum of hidden money in the gorge from a small band of Native Americans who robbed settlers near the Ohio River.
Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve offers an ample parking lot and restrooms. Keep in mind this trail is NOT pet-friendly.
The Conkles Hollow Gorge Trail is roughly a mile long, out and back trail. Highlights along the trails include Slump Rock, The Grotto, along with two beautiful waterfalls.
Conkles Hollow Rim Trail – This is a more adventurous trail; therefore, use extreme caution as it circles the tops of the cliffs of the gorge. While the trail rewards hikers with outstanding views, this 2.5-mile hike is quite strenuous.
Rock House Trail
Feel like an explorer as you venture into the 200 ft long cavern with 25 ft ceiling eroded out of Blackhand sandstone. This is the only real cave in the state park, as the majority are overhangs. Throughout the cave, some openings let in natural light and give way to beautiful views.
Be sure to bring a flashlight or use the light on your phone to explore the recess areas of the cave. This trail does have several stairs along with a few hazardous cliffs areas.
The Rock House Trail is 1/4 mile long. With entrance into the Rock House not being far from the parking lot. There is a shorter trail that will take you directly to the Rock House. There are two parking lots along with a shelter and picnic area.
Best Hocking Hills Waterfall Trails
Old Man’s Cave Trail: Upper and Lower Falls
The most popular hike in Hocking Hills is to Old Man’s Cave. Many hikers choose to begin their Hocking Hills quest here because it is home to the Hocking Hills Visitor Center and a trailhead to various trails, including the Grandma Gatewood Trail. This trail connects three popular areas of the park; Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave.
Quick Tips For Old Man’s Cave
- I recommend getting a map from the Visitors Center or downloading the maps before hiking these trails. Even take a photo of the map on your phone to reference later if you lose service. The trails are fairly well labeled, but better safe than sorry.
- Arrive early, as crowds tend to build up throughout the day.
- Many of the trails in the area will connect with the Old Man’s Cave Trail.
- Wear proper footwear.
- During the winter months, ice will make these trails challenging to hike. Bridges freeze over, icy forms on the stairwells, and the inside of caverns become ice skating rinks.
Old Man’s Cave Trail is a 0.6 mile out and back trail. It can be very crowded at times. The trail will take hikers to the cave through the gorge and along Old Man’s Creek.
The Grandma Gatewood Trail is six miles long. A return hike to your car will make this a total of 12 miles. The Grandma Gatewood trail has been designated a part of the Buckeye Trail.
Hemlock Bridge and Whispering Cave Trail is a 1.9 miles trail that is an out and back. This trail is located off of the Old Man Cave’s Trail. Whispering Falls is located along this trail.
The Upper and Lower Falls is a 1.2 mile out and back trail that will take hikers to both falls, including a visit to Old Man’s Cave.
Broken Rock Falls is a 1-mile loop that offers beautiful scenery with plenty of rock formations. The trail can be accessed off the Old Man’s Trail for a great addition.
These trails are pet-friendly and provide a parking area, picnic shelters, and restrooms.
Cedar Falls In Hocking Hills, Ohio
A beautiful waterfall hike is to Cedar Falls. The trail is relatively easy, which increases its popularity. Narrow passageways can make this out and back trail a little challenging, especially during peak season, as more hikers try to navigate these problematic areas.
The waterfalls are beautiful, with the flow varying depending on recent rainfall. During winter months, the trail does get icy to use caution. Cedar Falls is a pet-friendly trail, so long as dogs are on a leash.
The Cedar Falls Trails is a 1/2 relatively easy mile trail, except having to climb some rocks and a few narrow passageways. There are restrooms and picnic areas located near the parking lot.
The Cedar Falls Trail also connects to the Buckeye Trail/ Grandma Gatewood Trail leading to Ash Cave and the Grandma Gatewood Trail leading to Old Man’s Cave.
Don’t miss out on this lovely waterfall during your visit to Cedar Falls. This seasonal waterfall can be found behind a large boulder, making it “hidden.” It is only 50 yards from Cedar Falls.
Located no more than 50 yards from Cedar Falls, Hidden Falls is a nice bonus while visiting that waterfall. The somewhat seasonal waterfall is tucked away behind a large boulder, making it “hidden” from view. You can find the waterfall by venturing on the well-traveled dirt path by a marked tree stump. Visit after a period of rain or in the spring for a beautiful hidden waterfall.
Big Spring Hollow Falls
Deemed the highest waterfall in Hocking Hills, Big Spring Hollow Falls can be tricky to access. The trailhead is located on Big Pine Road and east of route 374. Located on the south side of the road is a pull off. There are is a path for the trailhead and a trail for the rappelling area! Ensure you are on the correct way.
Once on the trail, head towards the hills, cross a small footbridge, and there will be a trail on your right. Keep in mind that the trail follows the base of the cliffs, with lots of up and downs. You will quickly pass a seasonal waterfall, which could be dried up. After about a 1/2 mile, you will reach the big falls.
More Great Hocking Hills Hiking Trails
Travelers who take the drive to Cantwell Cliffs will be rewarded with incredible rock formations, massive slump rocks, and the notorious “Fat Woman’s Squeeze,” the most narrow passage along the trail.
Cantwell Cliffs Rim Trail is a 1.8-mile loop that many consider difficult. There is a fair amount of stairs and cliffs.
Cantwell Cliffs Gorge Trail is a 1-mile loop that is heavily trafficked. The hike does involve a fair amount of stairs.
These trails are pet-friendly and provide a parking area and restroom.