HOCKING HILLS For great views, go take a hike
Take your time, wear good walking shoes, and enjoy a visit to some of Ohio's most scenic destinations.
By PETER H. MILLIKEN
VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER
LOGAN -- Hocking Hills State Park in southeast Ohio offers an unforgettable scenic excursion into a region of high cliffs and waterfalls, huge caves and deep gorges.
Although most visitors arrive by car at each of the six sites comprising the park area, none of the spectacular formations is visible directly from a motor vehicle.
Once you leave your vehicle, you must hike into each site, in most cases down steep trails with steps, but the natural beauty makes each hike well worth the effort. Good walking shoes are essential.
The most accessible sites are Ash Cave and Conkle's Hollow.
Ash Cave can be reached by a paved, level, wheelchair-accessible quarter-mile path from the parking lot to the cave. Conkle's Hollow can be seen by walking a one-mile round trip on the fairly level gorge trail, which runs from the parking lot to the waterfall.
Caution is advised in driving along the area's narrow, winding two-lane roads, which you must travel to get from one site to another. You also must be cautious in hiking on the trails, especially those atop gorge rims, where falling is likely. Many of the trails pass over rock that is slippery when wet.
Take your time
Although all six sites can be comfortably seen over a weekend, it is inadvisable to try to see all of them in one day. It is best to allow at least two hours for the Old Man's Cave complex, 90 minutes for Conkle's Hollow, 30 minutes at Ash Cave and one hour each at Cantwell Cliffs, the Rock House and Cedar Falls.
Ambitious hikers who start early in the day and have lots of time can walk along the Buckeye Trail for three miles, one way, from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls, and another three miles, one way, from Cedar Falls to Ash Cave.
Those planning these lengthy hikes should carry sufficient water and food and be sure they can finish walking and return to their vehicles before sunset.
Old Man's Cave features a visitors center with a refreshment stand, gift shop and restrooms, with nearby cottages, dining hall, campground and swimming pools. There are no admission fees at any of the six rock formation sites.
For more information about lodging, restaurants, scenic attractions, and local weather, contact the Hocking County Tourism Association, toll-free, at (800) HOCKING, or www.hcta.org on the Web.