Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is in the Hocking Hills region of Southeast Ohio in the United States of America. Purchased for preservation by the state in 1924, it contains some of the most iconic and majestic natural scenery in all the state of Ohio, including Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and the largest recess cave in the entire state, Ash Cave. The 2,356-acre park also contains deep hemlock-shaded gorges, numerous waterfalls, and over 27 miles of hiking trails throughout, connecting to Ohio's Buckeye Trail system.
Flora and fauna
The park, along with most of Southern Ohio, is covered with deciduous broad leaf forest containing a large variety of tree species. Forests become lush and green in spring and leaves turn to beautiful red, orange, and yellow colors before falling in mid to late October.
Animals in the park include white-tailed deer, numerous songbirds, and plenty of other eastern North American woodland creatures.
Southern Ohio typically experiences warm, humid summers with daytime temperatures near 80-90F and nighttime temperatures 55-70F. Winter temperatures can be frigid and even below freezing with snow and sleet. Rain is possible throughout the year, with heaviest falling in spring. Summer and fall often have plenty of sunny days.
The best way to visit is by car, as the park is quite distant from urban areas. Free parking is available throughout the park, though finding a parking space can be difficult on summer weekends, especially at Old Man's Cave.
Port Columbus International Airport is 55 miles away by car.
Admission to the park is free to the public.
Major areas of the park are several miles apart, making car travel among them desirable. Some attractions are still a bit of a walk away from their respective parking areas.
A six-mile section of Ohio's Buckeye Trail follows the Grandma Gatewood Trail connecting Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave. The trail is narrow at times as it winds through the gorges of Old Man's Creek and Queer Creek.
Old Man's Cave
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources operates a cabin area and two campgrounds within the park. All reservations for campsites and lodging must be made online or by calling +1 (866) 644-6727.
The area is very lush, even during dry seasons, making rock surfaces and cliff edges extremely slippery. In Spring 2013, four separate incidents involving falls from cliffs caused serious injuries, including three fatalities. A 66 year-old man hiked too close to a cliff and fell to his death at Cedar Falls only two days after a 52 year-old man died after untethering momentarily from safety equipment at the Big Springs Rappelling Area. Less than a month before, a 22 year-old woman survived extensive injuries from a 100-foot fall at Cantwell Cliffs just hours after a 19 year-old man fell 60 feet to his death at Old Man's Cave. As a result, park officers have stepped up enforcement, issuing numerous warnings and even $135 citations for hikers going off-trail.
Also take note that the park is in a very remote area with little or no cellular service, which makes planning and safety essential on long hikes. Be sure to bring sufficient drinking water and even food, as concessions are limited mainly to the Old Man's Cave area.