Spike’s Guide to Hocking Hills, Ohio

After posting photos of my most recent vacation, many people have asked me for info because they were interested in visiting Hocking Hills State Park. And I highly suggest you do visit! Nestled in the heart of Ohio, Hocking Hills is a hidden gem that offers a breathtaking escape into nature. If you’re planning your first visit, be prepared to be captivated by its awe-inspiring lush forests, stunning rock formations, cascading waterfalls, and endless recreational opportunities for travelers seeking tranquility and adventure alike. On this page, I’ll tell you what to see, where to stay, when to visit and of course, where to eat and drink…

Exploring the Natural Wonders

Hocking Hills is renowned for its striking rock formations, enchanting caves, standstone cliffs and magical waterfalls. And it’s all about a 4 hour drive from Metro Detroit!  The region boasts an extensive 59 mile network of hiking trails that cater to all levels of expertise. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a beginner, it’s worth a visit. In fact, some of the most impressive sites are accessed via an easy, short paved walkway. Here’s a few highlights for you to visit:

  • Old Man’s Cave: Explore a natural gorge with stunning rock formations, waterfalls, and hiking trails. This should be your first stop! (Start your hike from the parking lot, not the visitor center.)
  • Rock House: Discover the Rock House, a captivating cave-like structure with high ceilings and intriguing tunnels to explore.
  • Ash Cave: Experience the grandeur of Ash Cave, the largest recess cave east of the Mississippi with a beautiful waterfall and sandstone cliffs.
  • Whispering Cave: Visit the Whispering Cave, known for its unique rock formations and lush greenery, offering a serene atmosphere.
  • Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve: Hike the rim trail at Conkles Hollow to enjoy breathtaking views of the surrounding cliffs from 200 feet above the valley.
  • Cedar Falls: Witness the enchanting Cedar Falls, the greatest volume of water of all the falls in Hocking County, surrounded by vibrant foliage and rugged landscapes.

You can visit all of the above attractions in two days!  If you have more time, here’s a few other sites worth exploring:

  • Hiking Trails: Explore various hiking trails like the Hemlock Bridge Trail, Grandma Gatewood Trail, and Rose Lake Loop Trail, each offering distinct natural beauty.
  • Cantwell Cliffs: Trek through the Cantwell Cliffs to experience stunning rock formations, deep ravines, and panoramic vistas… one of the most remote areas of Hocking Hills.
  • John Glenn Astronomy Park: Attend stargazing events and explore the night sky at the John Glenn Astronomy Park, known for its dark skies.
  • Lake Logan State Park: Relax by the shores of Lake Logan, go fishing, or take a leisurely stroll around the lake.
  • Hocking Hills Canopy Tours: Embark on a thrilling zip-lining adventure through the treetops for an adrenaline rush and a unique perspective of the area.
  • Hocking Hills Butterfly Trail: Kids and adults will love this up-close photo op… a network of 14 stops that ends at Butterfly Ridge.
  • Canoeing and Kayaking: Enjoy peaceful moments on the water by canoeing or kayaking along the Hocking River or serene lakes (see local tourist brochures).
  • Horseback Riding: Discover the beauty of Hocking Hills on horseback by taking guided horseback riding tours through the scenic trails (local brochures).

Where To Stay

Hocking Hills offers a range of accommodations to relax after a day of exploration. Cozy cabins nestled in the woods, charming bed and breakfasts, and campgrounds with modern amenities are all available options that cater to different preferences and budgets. Here are some suggestions:

  • Cabins and Cottages: You can’t visit Hocking Hills without renting a charming cabin nestled in the woods. They are often equipped with modern amenities like hot tubs and fireplaces. They are perfect for couples, families, or groups of friends looking for a rustic retreat. I visit Airbnb and only patronize the hosts with great ratings. For some extra fun, google “glamping,” “tiny houses” and “treehouses” in the area.
  • Lodges and Resorts: There are several lodges and resorts in the area that offer a range of amenities, including swimming pools, spa services, and on-site dining. These options are ideal for those seeking a more luxurious and comfortable stay. The brand new Hocking Hills Lodge & Conference Center is absolutely beautiful and located within the park. It just opened in late 2022 after a fire destroyed the original lodge 7 years ago.
  • Bed and Breakfasts: Hocking Hills boasts a selection of bed and breakfast establishments that provide a personalized touch and a hearty breakfast each morning. Staying at a B&B offers a warm and intimate experience, often with unique and charming décor.
  • Camping and RV Sites: If you’re an outdoor enthusiast, consider camping at one of the campgrounds in Hocking Hills. Some campgrounds offer both tent sites and RV hookups, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in nature and get you closest to the trails while spending far less money.
Keep in mind that Hocking Hills is a popular destination, especially during peak seasons. It’s advisable to make reservations well in advance to secure your preferred accommodation. And use Google Maps to check the proximity to the attractions I’ve listed above – don’t trust the website descriptions. The small, winding roads should be taken at a slow pace. Let your location influence your choice. And of course, check online reviews to get insights from fellow travelers.  Remember that Spike offers full travel-planning services for your next family vacation in Hocking Hills or anywhere: click here!
When To Go
Hocking Hills, Ohio, offers different experiences and attractions throughout the year. Fall foliage is a highlight, offering vibrant colors throughout the forests and cooler temperatures for hiking and s’mores around the bonfire. Summer offers warm weather for swimming in the lakes and rivers, plus longer daylight hours allow for more outdoor exploration and stargazing at night is beautiful. But Summer is a peak tourist season, so expect larger crowds. Spring brings blooming flowers and lush greenery to the area and the waterfalls are at a heavy flow due to increased rainfall. And Winter landscapes provide a unique and serene atmosphere. Snow-covered trails offer opportunities for winter hiking and photography. Some accommodations may have much lower rates during the off-season.  No matter which season you choose to visit, consider planning your visit on weekdays to avoid weekend crowds – it makes a big difference!  And if you find this free guide to Hocking Hills helpful, buy Spike a coffee!

Where To Eat

The culinary scene is hit-and-miss but there have been some great new additions to the old local favorites. From hearty comfort food to farm-to-table delicacies, you can find everything within a 20 minute drive of Hocking Hills. Here’s a few I recommend:

  • 58 West: My personal favorite is this new restaurant in downtown Logan… great food and amazing craft beer and fine wine produced on site.
  • Millstone BBQ: If you’re a barbecue enthusiast, Millstone BBQ in Logan is a must-visit. Enjoy mouthwatering smoked meats and classic Southern sides in a rustic setting.
  • Pizza Crossing: Craving the seriously BEST pizza? It’s a great spot for a quick, casual bite.
  • Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls Restaurant: Located within the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, this restaurant offers a farm-to-table dining experience with seasonal menus featuring locally sourced ingredients.
  • Hocking Hills Coffee Emporium: Best cup of artisanal coffee in Hocking Hills! Plus pastries, grab-n-go snacks and a cozy atmosphere.
  • Ale House 1890: Good food and the area’s widest selection of whiskey and wine.
  • Olde Dutch Restaurant: This family-style buffet restaurant in Logan offers a taste of traditional Amish cuisine, featuring homemade bread, hearty entrees, and delectable pies.
  • M&M Family Diner: This diner in Logan is known for its home-cooked meals, friendly service, and affordable prices. It’s a classic American diner experience.
  • Maya Burrito Co.: If you’re in the mood for Mexican cuisine, Maya Burrito Co. in Logan serves up tasty burritos, tacos, and more in a vibrant setting.
  • Pearl’s Diner: A classic diner experience in Laurelville, Pearl’s Diner offers a nostalgic atmosphere and a menu of American favorites.
  • The Ridge Inn Restaurant: Situated in Laurelville, this cozy restaurant is known for its comfort food, hearty portions, and friendly atmosphere. It’s a local favorite for breakfast and lunch.

Where To Drink

There are a few establishments to enjoy craft beverages. Here’s a list of some of the best breweries, wineries, and distilleries in the Hocking Hills area:

  • Brewery 33: A range of craft beers and colorful bartenders. They have a tasting room where you can sample their brews.
  • Hocking Hills Brewing Co: Their Campfire Porter is the best beer I’ve had this year. They’ve been brewing good beer for a decade.
  • Little Fish Brewing Company: Situated in Athens, this brewery is known for its innovative and high-quality beers. 
  • Rockmill Brewery: Belgian-style farmhouse ales in a warm & welcoming taproom.
  • Double Edge Brewing Co: A great variety of beers and ciders in their historic downtown Lancaster taproom.
  • Hocking Hills Winery:  A variety of wines in a charming setting. The whites were delicious and sweet! They also offer craft beers from their sister brewery.
  • RxR (Revolution Rockbridge) Winery: more than 20 homemade artisan wines and a few seasonal surprises.
  • RockSide Winery and Vineyards: A selection of wines made from locally grown grapes. Grab a cheese plate and enjoy the outdoor seating for a relaxing experience.
  • Hocking Hills Moonshine: Corn whiskey and bourbon just like the local bootleggers made during prohibition. The brothers Brian & Eric give tours and tastings, too. 
  • Motherwell Distillery: High-quality, locally distilled spirits including rum, vodka, bourbon, gin and the “Lubricator” made from peaches.
Conclusion A first-time visit to Hocking Hills, Ohio, is a journey into a world of natural wonder and outdoor adventure that promises a memorable escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, exhilarating activities, or a deep connection with nature, Hocking Hills has something extraordinary to offer every traveler.  Remember that I offer full travel-planning services so if you need assistance with booking a honeymoon, motorcycle rally or family vacation in Hocking Hills (or anywhere!) click here.

Did you find this Hocking Hills guide helpful? Buy Spike a coffee!   Don’t Stop There… Here are some nearby destinations you might consider visiting outside of Hocking Hills:

  • Athens, Ohio: Known for its vibrant arts scene and charming shops. The Athens Farmers Market is worth a visit.
  • Nelsonville, Ohio: This small town features the Stuart’s Opera House, known for its live performances and the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offering scenic train rides.
  • Columbus, Ohio: It’s not easy for this Michigan Wolverine fan to admit it, but Columbus is a great city with a world-class Columbus Zoo and a variety of museums, restaurants, and entertainment options. Stay near High Street in the Short North district.
  • Dayton, Ohio: If you’re interested in aviation history, the National Museum of the United States Air Force is a must-visit.Remember that the accessibility and opening hours of any attraction or establishment on this website might vary, so it’s a good idea to check ahead of time and plan your itinerary accordingly. Whether you’re interested in outdoor activities, cultural experiences, or city exploration, there’s a diverse array of attractions to discover… get out and explore!

Here’s a few photos I took with my phone in Hocking Hills:

3 Responses
  1. Phyllis Hunt

    You mention path but not length. I use a walker and wonder if places to stay have 1st floor rooms or elevators. I may travel by myself. Listened to you since you came to Detroit and have seen your pics from your travels. Would probably have you book my trip.

    1. Spike

      Hi Phyllis, yes there are places that have first floors and elevators. There are also some landmarks you could check out like Ash’s Cave which is a simple 1/4 mile paved path in and out. Same with Conkles Hollow Gorge. Others like Old Man’s Cave may be limiting; you can easily access the visitor center and restaurant but not many of the trails that are carved into rock formations with elevation and steps. Email me if you’d like me to plan it for you!

  2. Ann

    Hello, my family and I are planning next year’s trip and this was on the list, we don’t know anything about it but heard it’s nice. This will help. Thank you

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