Hocking Hills State Park is the most popular in Ohio, and it's no mystery why visitors flock there year after year. Each of its distinct areas -- Rock House, Conkles Hollow, Cantwell Cliffs, Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls -- has something unique to explore.
Hocking Hills State Park 19852 State Rte. 664, Logan 740-385-6841 Homepage
One of the most popular trails in the state runs from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls to Ash Cave -- a trifecta of awesome. We're talking four-season appeal and some of the most beautiful scenery accessible by some of the easiest hiking. The cost-benefit analysis is simply off the charts.
Here's more from a recent trip there, just as the foliage was coming back into full force.
View larger image A meandering stream finds its way from a park office into the gorge, which was carved over thousands of years. Erosion is sweet.
View larger image Rough-hewn stairs find their way down into a valley, which stays cool and damp all year long. This micro-climate is one reason that Kentucky warblers and other more rare migrants nest in the gorge.
View larger image Once you're in the gorge, the trail is easy to follow. So, you know, follow it. Bring a camera and someone you love.
View larger image This peculiar section bridge was built after a flash flood several years ago washed out everything in its path. Water crested at about 20 feet. This design allows water and large debris to pass without completely destroying the pillars.
View larger image Resident naturalist Pat Quackenbush describes the history of the park to some travel writers from across the country. Ohioans know its beauty, but it was cool to hear how astounded everyone from Brooklyn was about the Hocking Hills.
View larger image Trees hang perilously from the edge of Old Man's Cave. You won't find many traditional caves (those for spelunking) in the Hocking Hills. Instead, the area is known for recess caves, which essentially are giant overhangs.
View larger image Old Man's Cave was named for, well, an old man who lived there. Richard Rowe lived there with his two hunting dogs starting in 1796. Eventually, he was found drowned in the river and was buried nearby. Rumor has it, when the moon is full, baying hounds will lead you to his grave.