If there’s one specific location which garners the most attention when the subject of hiking is brought up during a conversation regarding Ohio, that place is Hocking Hills. It’s a sight to behold if you’ve never been, filled with plenty of waterfalls and giant rock formations, spectacular views and really good hiking trails.
The main drawback, which tends to also follow the main topic of Hocking Hills is usually the sheer amount of people who visit throughout the year. This can be a turnoff, especially for backpackers who are looking for solitude during their hikes, but I always insist that the trail tends to open up after the first mile or so and the crowd thins out drastically from the waterfall and cave attractions near the parking lots. If you go early in the morning and make your way through the blazes a bit, chances are good that you’ll be hiking alone for most of your trek.
During the winter months, the traffic slows down even further and the icicles jutting out from the landscape with the falls as a backdrop can be breathtaking. One of the trails has a bit of a boulder hop which can become very slick with ice, so I’d advise wearing footwear with a good amount of traction for dealing with the terrain.
We find early spring when the ice begins to melt to be one of the best times to hike at Hocking Hills, as this is normally when the trees are starting to release the water they’ve retained and the falls come alive, gushing down into the pools below to deliver very picturesque views.
The main entrance to Hocking Hills is definitely worth checking out, with Old Man’s Cave being a focal point for most visitors. The natural beauty of this section contains one of our favorite hiking trails: The Grandma Gatewood 6-mile loop.
This trail runs from Upper Falls and passes by Old Man’s Cave, looping back around via the Gorge Overlook Trail once you reach Cedar Falls. We highly recommend it, as it was one of our first really great hiking experiences that we still love to rekindle whenever we get a chance.
There are other trails within a short drive that you can take in as well, including Conkle’s Hollow and Cantwell Cliffs, which will get your blood pumping with their climbs.
All of these combine to make Hocking Hills one of the best options for hiking in Ohio. If you ever find yourself in the vicinity, do yourself a favor and stop by, as it is sure not to disappoint for avid hikers and nature observers.
Any destinations of your own to recommend or personal thoughts on Hocking Hills? Drop us a comment below and let us know!