Each year, thousands trek from Old Man's Cave to Ash Cave during the Annual Winter Hike. Other times, even when park officers aren't offering return shuttle service, visitors continue to wear bare the six-mile stretch.
Now, don't get me wrong: This trail's popular for a reason. Yet many walk it once a year and ignore everything else in the Hocking Hills.
Like golden flecks in a wide mountain stream, smaller preserves and more secretive spots dot the state's most infamous outdoor region - this land of hemlock shade, cliff-side danger and the gorgeous passage of time. [Hidden Hocking tour]
One of these is Cantwell Cliffs, the northernmost hotspot in the popular Hocking Hills State Park. It includes soaring cliffs, a giant recess cave, sandstone boulders and two breathtaking trails.
Cantwell Cliffs Hocking Hills State Park State Rte. 374, Rockbridge 740-385-6842 Park homepage
Here's what you'll see.
View larger image From the parking lot off State Rte. 374, take the left arm of the Rim Trail, which leads to Fat Woman's Squeeze, a natural staircase carved into the sandstone.
View larger image Most with pass comfortably into the opening between two large hunks of bedrock. Through crannies, you can view the surrounding countryside, which is shaded by hemlocks and peppered with exposed geology.
View larger image Keep heading left to the park's main event.
View larger image About 150 feet lie between the upper portion of the cliff and the plunge pool beneath. Amazing ice patterns often emerge in the cold. Careful: It's slick.
View larger image My friend Derek, who stands just shy of six feet, helps to scale the massive height of the recess cave.
View larger image Once you're done exploring the cave, head back through the Squeeze to explore other sections accessed by the Rim Trail. The right side of the 0.75-mile path eventually leads to steps down to this stunning waterfall.
View larger image The ice here had frozen in endlessly detailed drips. To my mother's absolute horror, I stood directly beneath it to get this shot.
View larger image The path leads back to the parking lot. There's also a strenuous, 1.75-mile trail through the gorge.