Girl jumping rocks in front of a Waterfall at Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills State Park

Take a greatest-hits hike in the Hocking Hills

You’re surely familiar with Old Man’s Cave, the most popular destination in Ohio’s Hocking Hills. If you aren’t, you must be a hermit like the namesake old man himself: Richard Rowe, who reportedly lived in the cave in the late 18th century and was buried there. This recess cave, or rock house, is some 200 feet wide and 75 feet deep. 

The Old Man’s Cave area of Hocking Hills State Park is the perfect place to start. Check out the visitor center with its interpretive displays and maps, plus bathrooms and a deck ready for relaxing with Adirondack chairs. Not that you’ll need them; the closest trailhead takes you directly to the statewide Buckeye Trail (BT), which continues in either direction to make a 1,400-mile loop—don’t worry, there are plenty of shorter trails to hike in the Hocking Hills. 


Woman standing on bridge in Hocking Hills

Recommended Route: Grandma Gatewood to Gorge Overlook Trail

For a greatest-hits hike within the park, try the Grandma Gatewood Trail (that’s the name of this segment of the BT) from Upper Falls to Cedar Falls, and then back, on the Gorge Overlook Trail for a 6-mile loop. From the visitor center, take the sidewalk back to the end of the parking lot where you will see a trailhead kiosk. From there, access the trail and hike past Upper Falls, Devil’s Bathtub (a swirling water feature), Old Man’s Cave and Lower Falls all within the first mile. If you’re looking for something shorter, you can exit the gorge just below Lower Falls and return to the visitor center for a loop that’s less than a mile and a half. 

Continuing downstream on the blue-blazed Buckeye Trail, the crowds fall away quickly. At Mile 3, exit the BT and follow yellow blazes to Cedar Falls, the highest-volume waterfall in the Hocking Hills. From Cedar Falls, climb out of the gorge and pick up the red-blazed Gorge Overlook Trail, which features the promised overlooks plus a section that skirts Rose Lake before you return to where you started. 

The Grandma Gatewood trail is named after Ohioan Emma Gatewood, first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail in 1955 at age 67 and a founding member of the Buckeye Trail Association.

Do It at Least Once

The annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike takes place the third Saturday in January. Join a few thousand of your closest friends and hike the 6 miles from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave. Chili and cornbread are served halfway at Cedar Falls, and a shuttle takes you back from Ash Cave to where you started. 

Getting There

Take U.S. 33 east from Columbus; it’s one hour to Logan where you go south on SR 664 for 10 miles to the Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center and parking. 

Where To Eat

The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls has a restaurant, Kindred Spirits, which updates its menu seasonally. Reservations are recommended. 

More Info:

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.