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Hocking Hills State Park Guide — Caves, Hiking, and More

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Amar Hussain

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Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications incl...
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In the heart of southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park is a haven for nature lovers and adventure-seekers alike. With its stunning waterfalls cascading down rocky cliffs, vast underground caves carved by the forces of nature, and towering cliffs offering breathtaking vistas of the lush forest canopy below, this park is a true gem of the region.

Visitors can hike through miles of winding trails, explore hidden caverns, or simply relax and soak in the natural beauty all around them, all for free. It’s no wonder that over 3 million people flock to this park every year to experience the awe-inspiring sights and sounds of one of Ohio’s most treasured natural wonders.

How To Get to Hocking Hills State Park

Where Is Hocking Hills State Park?

Hocking Hills State Park is in Logan, Ohio, a little over an hour southeast of the state capital, Columbus. The vast park covers 2,356 acres and boasts diverse scenic landscapes and geological formations. The towering cliffs, roaring waterfalls, and deep gorges shaded by hemlocks are a treat to experience. 

Hocking Hills State Park Opening Hours

The park is open every day of the year, including holidays. You can access the park from half an hour before sunrise until half an hour after sunset. The facilities within the park, like the visitor center, have different hours of operation, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Nearest Airports to Hocking Hills State Park

John Glenn Columbus International Airport (CMH) is less than an hour’s drive from Hocking Hills State Park. This airport operates 160+ daily flights to 45+ destinations without layovers. It is served by numerous airlines, including Air Canada, Alaska, Delta, Southwest, Spirit, and United. Once you arrive at the airport, you can rent a car from several rental car companies to reach the park.

Driving to Hocking Hills State Park

Ash Cave sign at Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Hocking Hills State Park is easily accessible from a multitude of directions.

From Cincinnati

If you’re coming from Cincinnati, take Interstate 70 North toward Columbus. Take State Route 56 East through Mount Sterling and continue through Circleville and Laurelville to South Bloomington. Take State Route 664 North from here for approximately 4 miles until you reach the park’s entrance.

From Cleveland

Coming from Cleveland? Take Interstate 71 South to Columbus, then Interstate 270 East toward Wheeling. Take the Lancaster exit (U.S. Route 33 East) and continue east to Logan. The exit for 664 South will lead you to the park area.

From Columbus

The route to Hocking Hills State Park from Columbus is straightforward. Take U.S. Route 33 East through Lancaster and continue on this highway to Logan. Then, take the exit for State Route 664 South, which leads to the park entrance.

From Toledo

To get to the park from Toledo, take Interstate 75 South and exit at Findlay. Then, follow State Route 23 to Columbus. Next, head east on I-270 toward Wheeling. At the Lancaster exit, take U.S. Route 33 East and continue until you reach the exit for State Route 664 South. Continue on State Route 664 for around 12 miles until you reach the park.

Taking Public Transit to Hocking Hills State Park

Logan Public Transit is a service operating throughout Hocking County and the city of Logan. It offers curb-to-curb transportation, meaning passengers can be picked up and dropped off at their desired locations. To book a ride with this service, call ahead and make a reservation. It’s not free, typically costing $2 to $4, but sometimes the service has free-ride days.

Taking the Bus to Hocking Hills State Park

Bus service is available to nearby cities through GoBus, with transit to Columbus, Cincinnati, or Cleveland. Once you arrive, you can arrange a taxi or ride-sharing service to get to the park.

Getting Around Hocking Hills State Park

To explore this state park, driving through the roads that wind through it is best. One picturesque route is the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway. In addition, fantastic hiking trails offer a great way to explore the park on foot.

Old Mans Cave and Cedar Falls trail markers
Image Credit: Katie Seemann

What To See and Do in Hocking Hills State Park

There are plenty of activities to enjoy at Hocking Hills State Park, such as exploring vast caves, hiking through the scenic park, fishing, or paddling in the stunning lake.

Astronomy

For those passionate about astronomy, John Glenn Astronomy Park, a park within the park, is the perfect place for you. It offers abundant opportunities for stargazing.

Visitors can bring chairs, cameras, and telescopes to witness stunning views of celestial objects in the sky. From March to late November, programs are held here on Friday and Saturday nights to teach people even more about the night sky.

This park is one of the few areas in Ohio where the night sky can be viewed in its pristine state. The observatory here allows visitors to view the sky through its 28-inch, retractable-roof telescope.

Hot Tip:

The John Glenn Astronomy Park is the only part of Hocking Hills open at night.

Boating

Hocking Hills State Park Rose Lake
Rose Lake in Hocking Hills State Park. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

This park features a stunning 17-acre lake perfect for paddle and motorboats. Rose Lake is an excellent place to explore the park from the water. There are no canoe rental services within the park, so bring your own or rent canoes or kayaks from a nearby outfitter.

Whether you want to enjoy a sunset paddle or a leisurely float through the lake, you must not miss the opportunity to experience this park from the water.

Caves

Ash Cave Gorge Trail Hocking Hills
Looking out from Ash Cave. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Be sure to set aside time to explore the park’s unique caves, its main attraction. With towering rock formations, winding tunnels, and underground streams, these caves are truly marvels of nature. 

Some of the most popular caves in the park include Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls. Each boasts its own distinct features and is worth exploring. Old Man’s Cave, for example, features a stunning waterfall, while Ash Cave is known for its massive recess cave. Cedar Falls, on the other hand, offers a picturesque view of the forest from its overlook. 

As you explore the caves, the cool, refreshing air may be a welcome relief from the summer heat. Keep your eyes peeled for cave-dwelling creatures like salamanders and bats. Overall, visiting Hocking Hills State Park’s caves is a must-do activity.

Hocking Hills State Park Old Mans Cave
Exploring Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills State Park. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Fishing

Rose Lake is the only lake in the park where fishing is allowed, and it can be accessed via State Route 374. Rainbow trout, bass, bluegill, and channel catfish are some of the fish species that can be found in the lake.

Hocking Hills State Park Rose Lake
Rose Lake. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Please note that you need a valid Ohio fishing license to participate in this activity. It is also available at the park for those who enjoy ice fishing.

Hiking Trails

There is a beautiful trail system at Hocking Hills State Park for hiking enthusiasts. The trails vary in difficulty, from easy walks to challenging hikes. Some of the most popular trails include the Buckeye Trail, the Ash Cave Trail, the American Discovery Trail, and the Old Man’s Cave Trail.

Ash Cave Trail Map at Hocking Hills
Ash Cave Trail map. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

For those looking for a challenge, the Whispering Cave Trail may be of interest. This trail spans 4.5 miles and is considered difficult. It features the second-largest cave in the area, which boasts a 105-foot seasonal waterfall. The trail also includes a walk over the swinging Hemlock Bridge.

Visitor Center

The visitor center is by the Old Man’s Cave parking lot, making it easily accessible. This state-of-the-art facility boasts a wide range of interactive displays, exhibits, and wildlife showcases that provide an immersive and informative experience about the Hocking Hills region.

You can learn about the area’s unique geology, flora, and fauna, as well as the history and culture of the local communities.

Bottom Line:

The knowledgeable staff at the visitor center can answer most questions and provide assistance to ensure that your visit to the park is both enjoyable and educational.

Best Times To Visit Hocking Hills State Park

Whenever you are able to visit this state park, rest assured that you will have the experience of a lifetime. However, certain times of the year may offer a better experience, particularly if you want to participate in a specific activity or event. 

Devils Bathtub at Old Mans Cave Hocking Hills
The Devil’s Bathtub at Old Man’s Cave. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Best Time To Visit Hocking Hills State Park in Summer

If you plan a summer trip to Hocking Hills, the best time to do so is in August. The temperature ranges from the upper 50s to the low 80s, and there is less chance of rain than in the other summer months. A visit at this time of year allows you to enjoy summer activities like boating, swimming, and fishing.

Best Time To Visit Hocking Hills State Park To Avoid the Crowds

A peaceful and serene getaway to a park can be an ideal vacation for many travelers. November is the perfect month to enjoy the park during the least crowded time of the year. Tourists are less likely to visit this state park in November, so you can explore the park at your own pace without worrying about crowds, traffic, and long lines.

Best Time To Visit Hocking Hills State Park for Ideal Weather

The weather can make or break a trip, so it’s a good idea to come when the weather is typically calm and comfortable. The best month to visit for ideal weather for this park is September. This month, the temperature ranges from the low 50s to the upper 70s, perfect for outdoor activities like hiking and canoeing.

Cheapest Time To Visit Hocking Hills State Park

Saving money while traveling may seem challenging, but it is feasible with planning and research. The best time to visit this park and save money is from early to mid-September. During this time, flight fares and accommodation costs are at their lowest, providing a chance to save hundreds of dollars in travel expenses.

Annual Events in Hocking Hills State Park

The park holds various events throughout the year, such as nature programs and guided hikes. There are also annual events that both locals and visitors eagerly anticipate. 

Winter Hike

Every January, Hocking Hills State Park hosts the Winter Hike, a tradition for 58 years. The hike is a 6-mile journey from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave, and along the way, hikers experience many of the park’s highlights, such as Cedar Falls, Gorge Overlook Trail, and Buckeye Trail. This annual event is a beloved Hocking Hills tradition that attracts thousands each year.

Bridge in winter at Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills in winter. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Where To Stay in Hocking Hills State Park

You won’t have a problem finding a place to stay when visiting this state park. However, you may have difficulty narrowing down your choices because the possibilities here are endless.

Inside the Park

There are several types of accommodations within the park’s boundaries. Whether you prefer a stay in the great outdoors, in a cabin, or in a luxurious lodge, this park has you covered. 

Cabins at Cherry Ridge Retreat in Hocking Hills
Cherry Ridge Retreat in Hocking Hills State Park. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Hocking Hills State Park Campground

Hocking Hills State Park Campground is adjacent to Old Man’s Cave and offers various full hook-up electric and nonelectric sites. Each site comes with a fire ring and a picnic table, and the campground also provides amenities such as bathhouses with heated showers and flush toilets, laundry, a campground store, playgrounds, volleyball courts, and more. It’s a great place to sleep under the stars and enjoy the beauty of nature.

Hot Tip:

For those who want a more primitive experience, the hike-in campground offers 33 sites, each with a fire ring and picnic table. As there is no road access, you will need to carry all of your gear for up to half a mile. Pit latrines are dotted around the campground, and water is available in the parking area.

There is no dispersed camping at Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills State Park Lodge

Hocking Hills State Park Lodge is a recently built facility that offers 81 rooms for individuals and families seeking a weekend retreat or vacation. The lodge has diverse accommodation options, including modern rooms, family-sized rooms, and 2 room suites.

The lodge provides a wide range of amenities, such as a beautiful dining area, a comfortable lounge, a fitness center, indoor and outdoor pools, hot tubs, a gift shop, and a grab-and-go cafe. This lodge is ideal for guests who prefer a more conventional stay within the park’s boundaries.

Sherman Cabins

The Sherman Cabins offer a perfect combination of the outdoor experience and comfort for visitors. The state park has 3 cabins for rent, each accommodating 3 to 4 guests. The cabins are equipped with air conditioning, heating, a refrigerator, and a microwave oven. However, they do not have restrooms or running water. Guests can use the nearby bathhouses for their needs.

Hot Tip:

If you’re looking for a comfy cabin in Hocking Hills State Park, check out Cherry Ridge Retreat or The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

Towns Near Hocking Hills State Park

There are many small towns and cities near the park, offering a variety of accommodation. No matter whether you seek a busy city or a quiet suburb, there’s a place for you nearby.

Columbus, Ohio

Just a little over an hour’s drive from Hocking Hills State Park is the city of Columbus. Known for its friendly locals, vibrant culture, and an abundance of things to do, Columbus is a great place to stay when exploring the natural beauty of Hocking Hills. From cozy bed and breakfasts to luxurious hotels, there’s plenty of lodging.

When it comes to dining, the city boasts an impressive culinary scene with a wide variety of cuisine and is good for a fancy night out or a casual meal with friends and family.

Hot Tip:

Once you’ve had your fill of food and relaxation, there are plenty of recreational activities to enjoy, such as hiking, biking, or exploring the city’s many museums and art galleries and its nationally recognized zoo.

Logan, Ohio

Logan is the closest city to Hocking Hills State Park, nestled in the heart of the stunning Appalachian Mountains. This charming city offers a wide array of dining options, ranging from quaint diners to upscale restaurants, and a variety of lodging options, including charming bed and breakfasts and luxurious cabins.

For those looking for adventure, Logan offers plenty of recreational activities, such as hiking trails, zip lining, and canoeing, all set against the breathtaking backdrop of the Hocking Hills.

Where To Eat in Hocking Hills State Park

There are several places to eat in the park, whether you are looking to sit down, relax, and enjoy a delicious meal or just need a quick bite to eat on the go.

Restaurant at Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls
There’s a restaurant at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. Image Credit: Katie Seemann

Cafe ’22

Cafe ’22 is inside Hocking Hills State Park Lodge, and it’s open every day, offering coffee specialties and light bites. This is the ideal place to grab a quick pick-me-up and continue on with your day.

Rock House Restaurant

The Rock House Restaurant can be found inside Hocking Hills State Park Lodge. This restaurant is ideal for enjoying a meal when exploring the state park. It serves breakfast, lunch, and dinner daily, making it a convenient choice for any time of day.

Hocking Hills State Park Facts

1. A New State Park Established

This park was established in 1924 by the state of Ohio, which purchased 146 acres of land in Hocking County. This was the first step in creating the state park.

2. First People of the Park

Research suggests the Adena culture inhabited this area 7,000 years ago.

3. An Abundance of Animals

A variety of wildlife calls this park home, including white-tailed deer, wild turkeys, birds, and reptiles.

4. Original Dining Lodge and Cottages

In 1972, a dining lodge and cottages were constructed in the park. However, the lodge caught fire in 2016 and had to be closed. A new lodge was built and opened in 2022.

5. Carved by Water

The landmarks at Hocking Hills State Park are made of black hand sandstone. This sandstone’s bedrock was deposited more than 350 million years ago. Over time, stream erosion and uplift have chiseled away at the rock, resulting in the gorges and cliffs we observe today.

Final Thoughts

Hocking Hills State Park is a natural wonderland that leaves many visitors in awe. The park boasts a plethora of activities that appeal to outdoor enthusiasts, such as hiking through miles of scenic trails, exploring otherworldly caverns, and enjoying serene boat rides.

Whether you’re looking for a peaceful retreat or an adventure-filled getaway, this park has something for everyone. Book your trip today and experience the beauty of nature in its purest form.

Frequently Asked Questions

How much does it cost to visit Hocking Hills State Park?

There is no fee for visiting Hocking Hills State Park.

How much time is needed to explore Hocking Hills State Park?

We recommend spending 3 to 4 days exploring Hocking Hills State Park. You can see the highlights of the park in 2 days, but a better experience would be a couple of additional days.

What is the most popular cave at Hocking Hills State Park?

The most popular cave at Hocking Hills State Park is Old Man’s Cave.

What are some attractions near Hocking Hills State Park?

There are many exciting attractions near Hocking Hills State Park, such as Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve, the Pencil Sharpener Museum, and the Hocking Hills Children’s Museum.

Amar Hussain's image

About Amar Hussain

Amar is an avid traveler and tester of products. He has spent the last 13 years traveling all 7 continents and has put the products to the test on each of them. He has contributed to publications including Forbes, the Huffington Post, and more.

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