Hocking Hills Hiking: 7 Unforgettable Trails

Discover our curated list of Hocking Hills hiking trails and prepare for a journey amidst rugged rock formations, deep gorges, and the captivating allure of numerous waterfalls.

Emily Trostel Avatar
Written by: | Reviewed by: Kieran James Cunningham
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If you are looking for hiking in Ohio that isn’t surrounded by rolling flat plains, then the hidden gem that is Hocking Hills State Park is the place for you. Located in the southern part of the Buckeye State this park reveals a landscape reminiscent of rugged West Virginia rather than the plains of the north.

Hocking County and Hocking Hills State Park are renowned for their extraordinary geology and enchanting waterfalls. The landscape features deep gorges, mysterious caves, and majestic cliffs, all sculpted from the area’s distinctive 300-million-year-old Black Hand Sandstone. It’s a sight to behold and explore at any time of the year!

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Ready For The Top Trails At Hocking Hills?

Ready to explore for yourself? Our favorite Hocking Hills hiking trails are given in the list below.

  1. Rock House
  2. Cantwell Cliffs
  3. The Ash Cave Gorge Trail
  4. Cedar Falls
  5. Old Man’s Cave Trail, Lower and Upper Falls
  6. Whispering Cave Trail
  7. Conkle’s Hollow Gorge and Rim Trail
Rock House
An occasionally steep but otherwise moderate trail to one of the area’s most impressive rock features.

1. Rock House

The Rock House is the only true cave in the Hocking Hills State Park, positioned halfway up a 150-foot cliff of Black Hand Sandstone. The brief, one-mile hike to reach it is relatively short and straightforward but classified as moderate due to sections with a steep gradient and rocky steps.

Hikers can enter from both the upper and lower parking lot. Both trails meet at the Rock House, which has windows looking out over the lush valley below and soaring ceilings that resemble a natural cathedral.

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Cantwell Cliffs
A short but hugely rewarding hike through fairytale scenery.

2. Cantwell Cliffs

In the northernmost section of the park, approximately 10-15 miles away from the other areas, the Cantwell Cliffs Loop is one of the least crowded of the hiking trails on our list.

The highlight of this hike is the 150-foot sandstone cliff over which a pretty waterfall flows from Buck Run in the spring and summer months. 

Park visitors often call the towering cliffs the most picturesque section. Others are happy to simply satisfy their curiosity by checking out the, um, quirkily named Fat Woman’s Squeeze, a narrow slot canyon near the trailhead.

Expect a sharp climb or two, fascinating geology, uneven stairs, and washed-out portions of trail. 

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 2 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Ash Cave, Hocking Hills State Park
A family-friendly and accessible hike through a simply stunning gorge.

3. The Ash Cave Gorge Trail

The Ash Cave Gorge is arguably the most impressive feature in the park, with the trail there offering a treat for the whole family. This unique destination features a massive, horseshoe-shaped cave that stretches 700 feet and was used as a shelter by early inhabitants and travelers. 

The Gorge Trail is wheelchair and stroller accessible and follows an easy path through a narrow gorge lined with hardwood trees. In the spring and early summer, you’ll see plentiful wildflowers and a misty waterfall. Just past Ash Cave, the Gorge Trail connects to the more challenging and rugged Rim Trail.

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop
  • Length: .5 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
Cedar Falls
Another family friendly-hike with a fantastic waterfall finish!

4. Cedar Falls

Just under a mile long, the Cedar Falls Trail is another popular area for families to hike. This short hike along Queer Creek provides a connection to the longer Gorge Overlook or Grandma Gatewood trails for those seeking to extend their outdoor adventure.

Cedar Falls is the greatest waterfall in the area and is accessed by an easy walk through a beautiful hemlock forest. The falls stretch 50 feet skyward, and in the winter months freeze to create an otherworldly winter wonderland.

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 1 mile
  • Difficulty: Easy
Old Man's Cave
One of the best waterfall hikes in the state.

5. Old Man’s Cave Trail, Lower and Upper Falls

The Old Man’s Cave Trail is named after an 18th-century man who resided in the main recess cave of the gorge carved out by Old Man’s Creek. The trail begins at the visitor’s center, running alongside the creek beneath the towering Blackhand Sandstone Cliffs, with several waterfalls to admire along the way.

With easy connections to Upper and Lower Falls, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave via the Buckeye and Grandma Gatewood Trail, the Old Man’s Cave hike is a popular option for those looking to rack up more mileage.

The area is one of the most visited in the park. It can get crowded, especially if you visit on weekends during the summer and fall. 

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Out and Back 
  • Length: 5+ miles
  • Difficulty: Easy
Whispering Cave hocking hills
This mini-adventure is sure to appeal to all the budding Indiana Joneses!

6. Whispering Cave Trail

The Whispering Cave/Hemlock Bridge Trail features a swinging bridge, a waterfall, and steeper terrain with airy cliff edges, making it the perfect adventure for hikers seeking an extra thrill.

Park at Old Man’s Cave, then take the Old Man’s Cave Trail to the turnoff. Alternatively, many hikers choose to combine this trail with Cedar Falls for a popular 6-mile loop through the woods, where you’ll find plenty of other rock features, narrow passageways, and landmarks to explore along the way.

The loop is currently one-way and must be completed as a full 5-mile loop. 

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop
  • Length: 5 miles
  • Difficulty: Moderate
Conkle's Hollow hocking hills
Waterfalls, scenic overlooks, and dramatic cliffs are just a few of the highlights of this thrilling little loop.

7. Conkle’s Hollow Gorge and Rim Trail

Both the Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail and Rim Trail take you to one of Ohio’s deepest gorges, making it a top attraction in the area.

For an easy waterfall hike, check out the mile-long, out-and-back Gorge Trail, a mostly flat, easy-going hiking that’s suitable for all hiking levels.

For a more challenging hike, check out the popular Rim Trail, a 2.5-mile loop that follows the cliffs and serves up view after view of intriguing rock formations. The upper trail also passes many rocky outcrops that make for the perfect spot to watch a sunset! Because there are some sections with steep drops, this hike is not recommended for young children.

Below is a summary of the hike:

  • Type: Loop 
  • Length: 1-2 miles
  • Difficulty: Easy to Moderate

Which Of These Hocking Hills Hikes Will You Try First?

Hocking Hills is undoubtedly one of the best destinations for outdoor recreation and hiking in Ohio. With beautiful scenery, soaring cliffs, waterfalls, fabled caves, gorgeous rock gorges, and trails suitable for all skill levels, this is a must-visit for any Midwest hiker!

Have you done any great Hocking Hills walking trails that we missed? Let us know in the comments box below! And if you’d like to share this post with your friends, share away!

RELATED READING: For more outdoor adventure, finding more great hiking in Ohio is easy with our guide.

Last update on 2024-05-22 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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Emily Trostel Avatar

Emily is an adventure travel professional, writer, and former educator. Growing up in northeastern Pennsylvania, Emily’s wanderlust and love for the outdoors took hold early—she was a total summer camp kid, and spent four semesters studying abroad in college.

After moving to Wyoming to earn her MFA, she spent the next few years backpacking, hiking, and rock climbing throughout the western United States while working as an English teacher, outdoor educator, and trip leader.

Now based in Vermont with her wife and three dogs, Emily has combined her passion for travel and the outdoors into a career – she scouts and develops hiking trips around the world, including the Camino de Santiago, Peru’s Sacred Valley, and throughout the Alps. She also loves food, wine, literature, and open water swimming, and will always say yes to hot springs, saunas, and bluegrass music.

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