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17 Best Things To Do In Hocking Hills OH

Looking for things to do in Hocking Hills? I have you covered in this article.

I will walk you through Hocking Hills Ohio attractions, Hocking Hills activities, and fun things to do in Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills is in south-eastern Ohio and is part of the Allegheny Plateau. The Allegheny Plateau is known for its rugged terrain and is a collection of valleys and high points.

The area is naturally stunning and unlike anywhere else.

You will find deep gorges, jagged cliffs, waterfalls that take your breath away, and rather unique rock shelters. Visiting here is surely a Midwest road trip to add to your bucket list!

This unique topography is mainly due to the Black Hand sandstone, a stone that is weather-resistant.

The middle which is less resistant gets eroded away leaving the hard outer casing. This creates the stunning scenery that people flock to see.

Hocking Hills, Ohio is for the outdoor type with miles of trails, rivers to kayak or canoe on, and multiple activities for the more adventurous such as zip lining and rock climbing.

Here you will find the 17 best things to do in Hocking Hills Ohio.

Tall waterfall in green forest spilling over rocks to water below.

17 Best Things To Do In Hocking Hills OH

Going Stargazing Is A Unique Thing To Do In Hocking Hills

The John Glenn Astronomy Park in the Hocking Hills State Park inspires visitors to look up into the night sky.

This region is one of the few areas left in Ohio where the night sky can be seen without light pollution.

Visitors can experience the night sky through a large telescope in the observatory or simply with the naked eye. You can take your own telescope into the area too.

Except when they have special events the site is open 24/7. Camping is not permitted. However, you could stay under a blanket looking at the stars all night if you wish.

Stargazing is a great way to spend an evening and one of the unique things to do in Hocking Hills.

Inky black Night sky full of white stars over trees.

Get a History Fix At Hocking Hills Ohio

And when it comes to museums, Hocking Hills, Ohio has lots to offer. The region has a rich heritage including the Civil War, coal mining, and producing moonshine in World War II.

You can visit the birthplace of the Civil War legend, General William Tecumseh Sherman in Lancaster.

The Hocking Hills Historical Society & Museum Complex in Logan celebrates the history of the region and its links to World War II.

If you fancy a museum that’s a little more unique how about The Columbus Washboard Factory or the Pencil Sharpener Museum?

The Columbus Washboard Factory in Logan is the only remaining washboard manufacturer in the U.S.A.

The Pencil Sharpener Museum also in Logan houses Reverend Paul Johnson’s 3,400 pencil sharpeners and is believed to be the largest collection in America.

Visiting museums is one of the very interesting Hocking Hills activities! And is a wonderful Midwest weekend getaway.

Go Glass Blowing

Fancy buying a unique glass-crafted item, watching some glass blowing, or even giving it a try yourself? Then head to The Ohio Glass Museum for a very unique Hocking Hills activity.

The museum is open for tours Tuesday through Saturday in the afternoons and also has a self-guided tour that you can take at your own pace.

Glass-blowing demonstrations are held a few times a day.

You can also schedule classes and learn to blow glass yourself. The gift shop is open most afternoons and sells some lovely pieces if you want a little bit of Ohio to take home with you.

Large glass doors and windows of glass museum with blue letters: Ohio Glass Museum, One of the best things to do in Hocking Hills.

Get On A Bike To See Hocking Hills In A Whole New Way

Hocking Hills has over 50 miles of biking trails for all levels of ability. There are trails that are family-friendly, for just a leisurely easy ride, and trails for the more advanced and adventurous.

For mountain biking visit Lake Hope State Park which has over 25 miles of trails involving steep cliffs and ravines.

These wooded mountain biking trails are considered one of Ohio’s best and are for intermediate to advanced riders.

The Hocking Hills State Park Bike Trails offer two loops for the intermediate to advanced rider.

For a more leisurely ride, the Hockhocking Adena Bikeway is a 21-mile easy ride. Named in honor of the first inhabitants of this southeastern Ohio region.

You with go past Ohio University’s campus and then into the woodland along the Hocking River all the way to Nelsonville. Do all of the trail or just a part for a shorter ride.

This is one of the very healthy and interesting things to do in Hocking Hills.

Male riding trail bike through woods with sun peeking through the trees. One of the fun things to do in Hocking Hills.

Go Boating, Canoeing, or Kayaking For Hocking Hills Thrills

If you are a water baby and looking for some time in the water there are lots of things to do in Hocking Hills OH.

You can swim in one of the lakes, rent a canoe or kayak, and explore at your own leisure. Or just lazily float down the river in a tube.

You will find class 1 rapids perfect for a relaxing tube float.

Lake Logan has scenic picnic and swimming areas.

There are countless other areas to explore and lots of local companies run tours for those that feel safer in a group.

You can also camp or stay in cabins along the banks of the Hocking River. And, moonlight and torchlight tours are available, which sound amazing.

Young blonde woman sitting in canoe holding paddle riding calm water with trees on either side of river.

Hiking Is One Of The Best Things To Do In Hocking Hills To See Stunning Scenery

If you love hiking you will love hiking in Hocking Hills.

Whatever you are looking for this area has it. Some of the hikes are beautiful and fairly easy and others more demanding and all surrounded by the most incredible natural landscape.

If you want a hike with a view, head to Christmas Rock State Park and marvel at the view from Jacob’s Ladder.

If you are looking for rock arches and bridges head to Rockbridge State Nature Preserve.

Lake Hope State Park is a natural paradise. You will find sheer cliffs at Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve and Ash Cave is the largest recess cave east of the Mississippi.

And for the only true cave in Hocking Hills State Park head to Rock House

The options for hiking are endless and each has its unique landscape. The best option is to search for hikes near where you are staying. There really is a hike to suit every person.

If you are looking for more hikes in Ohio look through my 15 Best Hikes in Ohio For You To Discover

Three hikers with backpacks on trail surrounded by trees, one of the best things to do in Hocking Hills.

Get Lost In The Forest

Zaleski State Forest is the second-largest state forest in Ohio. It’s a little further out but much quieter than Hocking Hills State Park.

The main trail loop is 23.5 miles and there is a shorter 10-mile day loop. You will find rugged hills with elevations ranging up to about 1100 feet above sea level.

The forest walks take you a network of bridleways and trails and you will see a horse camp, Lake Hope, and the Hope School, an old but renovated one-room schoolhouse.

The historic Hope Furnace is also just across the road in Lake Hope State Park.

The forest is open to visitors between a.m. and 11 p.m. daily. It is truly one of the best Hocking Hills activities to consider.

Lake with blue water surrounded by evergreen forest with blue sky/puffy clouds in background.

Going On A Scenic Drive Is One Of The Fun Things To Do In Hocking Hills

If the weather isn’t in your favor You might want to get in the car and go for a scenic ride. The scenery looks incredible from the car and in fall the colors are magical.

The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway takes you deep into the hills and you will see some of the region’s hidden gems. The byway is small at 26.4-mile but it’s well worth the trouble.

The top things you can see on your driving tour are Cantwell Cliffs, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Rock House, and Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve.

Visit The Devil’s Bathtub For An Eerie Vibe

The name alone begs you to pay it a visit, doesn’t it?

While the name might be eerie the place is stunning. The Devil’s Bathtub is a gem and well worth the time to visit.

The bathtub is a fascinating piece of the stream bed with the sides consisting of a unique tiered waterfall.

The tub is essentially a bowl-shaped, basin of weak Blackhand sandstone eroding from the water.

The Devil’s Bathtub is located in the Hocking Hills State Park on the Old Man’s Cave hiking trail. And searching it out is one of the best things to do in Hocking Hills Ohio.

visiting this water swirling into gorge with greenery is one of the fun things to do in Ohio.

Chase Waterfalls For Inspiration

With vast gorges, valleys cliffs, and lakes it’s no surprise there are several waterfalls in the Hocking Hills area that are well worth a visit.

Cedar Falls has the biggest volume of water, a rather unique cascade, and a large rocky beach area at the base.

Rockbridge Falls the waterfall flows under a natural bridge and it only flows occasionally but when it does it is beautiful.

You will find it in Rockbridge State Nature Preserve where the area is beautiful even without the falls.

Cantwell Cliffs are one of the more difficult to get to the cliffs are over 150 feet tall and overlook Buck Run. The water tumbles over the cliffs and it’s quite magical.

Ash Cave is perhaps the most well-known. The 700 -foot long cave has a stunning waterfall in its center. It freezes in the winter and is absolutely breathtaking.

Conkle’s Hollow also boasts many small waterfalls and is absolutely beautiful.

Old Man’s Cave is a popular hiking trail and will treat you to several popular waterfalls in the Midwest located in Hocking Hills State Park.

Waterfalls cascading down brown rock formations into pool of water below are one of the fun things to do in Hocking Hills Ohio.

Take A Ride On The Scenic Railway

Did you know there are train rides in Ohio?

The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers a variety of train rides on the weekend from Nelsonville Depot on Hocking Parkway.

It’s a great way to sit back and enjoy the beautiful countryside that is even more stunning in the fall.

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Look out for the special events they hold like a family-friendly train robbery when a group of horseback bandits holds up the train

Riding the train is really one of the fun things to do in Hocking Hills!

Take a Scenic Air Tour For Great Views Of Hocking Hills Ohio

There is nothing like seeing the Hocking Hills area from the sky and there are several companies in the area that are willing to show you the sights from the air.

Seeing the topography from above really is a treat. Most flights are between 20-60 minutes long taking in the main areas. Some will even customize the flight to show you what you want to see.

The pilots are generally local and happy to share their local knowledge with you pointing out points of interest.

Going Zip Lining Is One Of The Fun Things To Do In Hocking Hills

If you like the idea of flying through the trees on a zipline then you are in luck. Here you will find Ohio’s first zipline attraction. And you can also take moonlight tours which are very exciting.

From the height of the platforms in the canopy, you get to the breathtaking landscape from a very different viewpoint.

One of the ziplines in this area is named Top 10 Amazing Ziplines in the World by Discovery Channel so you know you are in for a great time.

There are three large companies offering canopy tours in the area so check before you go or book when you get there.

Caucasian girl zip lining, waving and smiling. A really fun thing to do in Hocking Hills.

Learn How To Rock Climb

There are lots of rocks in Hocking Hills and therefore lots of places to experience rock-climbing.

Local guides cater to all levels of climbers, and children over 6, so chances are you will find one to suit you.

You can learn and experience things such as rappelling, climbing, challenges, and night rappelling.

If you have your own gear then head to The Hocking State Forest Rockclimbing and Rappelling Area, located off Big Pine Road in Spring Hollow.

Here Ninety-nine acres of forest land have been set aside for rock climbing and rappelling.

There is parking within easy walking distance of the rock and cliff face.

Please make sure you are always climbing with experienced people and with all the necessary safety gear.

If you are thinking of extending your stay, there are many beautiful cabins in Hocking Hills.

Caucasian woman wearing black, rock climbing up brown rocks.

Visit Lake Logan State Park To Relax And Enjoy Nature

While most come and spend their time in the beautiful Hocking Hills State Park there are other parks that are worth a visit.

And Lake Logan State Park is one. It’s a day-use park and has scenic picnic areas, and secluded woodland walks.

One of the coolest caves in Ohio is located here.

Lake Logan State Park lies in the Hocking Valley, which was formed by the Hocking River. It is considered one of the best state parks in Ohio to explore.

The forest is for the most part an oak-hickory combination. The forest floor is dotted with a variety of wildflowers. The park is also teeming with wildlife such as white-tailed deer and wild turkey.

This is a great place to come and relax for a bit and explore nature.

If would like to explore National Parks in Ohio, read 12 Coolest National Parks In Ohio next.

Tan welcome sign with green letters

Visit Big Spring Falls For Its Waterfall

Most people think Ash Cave is the largest waterfall in Hocking Hill. However, they are wrong!

It is Big Spring Falls at approximately 100 feet high. The waterfall is behind Spring Hallow in a recess cave and has a tropical jungle feel.

In spring the water is at its best. It does however have a continuous flow.

To get there you need to walk a 1/2-mile trail which is pretty straightforward and definitely one of the most rewarding things to do in Hocking Hills.

If you only have time for one waterfall make it this one.

Hit The Trails On Horseback

If you don’t fancy hiking why not take to the trails on horseback.

There are many choices from small indoor riding locations to longer guided tours and private farms.

Horseback trail riding is one of more relaxing things to do in Hocking Hills!

If you have time, visiting Amish Country Ohio is always an interesting thing to do.

Brown horse with blonde mane and white stripe down its snout in pen with green trees in background.

Packing List For Visiting Hocking Hills, Ohio

If you will be traveling, either by plane or by car to Ohio, here are some tips on how to pack lightly.

A concealed travel pouch may be one of the most important items you bring along when visiting Hocking Hills, Ohio. It is always important to protect your personal information. Identity thieves are everywhere.

This unisex RFID blocking concealed travel pouch is lightweight and comes in several colors. It has lots of organization to give you peace of mind.

You can place it under your hiking clothes next to your body to carry your ID safely.

If you have a pouch already that does not come with the RFID protection, as I do, these RFID sleeves are the perfect solution.

This configuration comes with enough credit card sleeves that the entire family would be protected. They are slim too, so they will easily fit into your pouch or wallet.

If you are planning on taking a lot of pictures with your phone you will definitely want to consider an external charging battery. This Anker high-speed phone charging battery is the exact one I carry with me on all of my trips.

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies with all those nature shots while visiting Hocking Hills.

Hydration is so important when hiking. You want to remain hydrated throughout your hikes to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.

You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies with all those nature shots while visiting Hocking Hills.

Hydration is so important when hiking. You want to remain hydrated throughout your hikes to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.

You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

It can be used on a variety of phones, not just an iPhone like I have. And wow is it fast!

I like that it holds its charging capabilities for several uses so I do not have to worry about it while out and about, and if I forget to recharge it at night, it will still be good to go the next day.

My daughter gifted me with this FugeTek selfie stick and tripod setup for my birthday. I absolutely love it! It is made of lightweight aluminum and so easy to use.

It has Bluetooth connectivity and is a breeze to use for taking selfies with all those nature shots while visiting Hocking Hills.

Hydration is so important when hiking. You want to remain hydrated throughout your hikes to support your immune system which in turn will be stronger to fight off any germs you will encounter during your travels.

You will want to bring your own refillable water bottle with you.

I never leave home on a trip without my Bobble filtration bottle. The 18.5-ounce size is perfect for hiking and it fits nicely in the pocket of a backpack.

I hope you are inspired by this list of things to do in Hocking Hills. Whichever of these things to do in Hocking Hills you choose to do, I hope you will have fun.

Please let me know how your trip goes and what were some of the best things you do in Hocking Hills.

If you are looking for more things to do in Ohio take a look at 15 Incredible Things To Do In Ohio.

The Complete Guide to Ohio’s Hocking Hills Region

Rich has been writing for TripSavvy since 2019. He was previously a staff writer at Ohio Magazine and managing editor of Ohio’s Country Living.

Fall colors in Hocking Hills Ohio

When I was I was a boy growing up in one of Ohio’s most rural counties, a vast forest lay just outside our back door, a place where I spent many happy hours frolicking with my dog. As an adult, I’m now a confirmed city slicker, but whenever I grow weary of the traffic and my noisy neighbors in Columbus and long to hear a symphony of cicadas and crickets and the soothing harmony of birdsong, I always head for the Hills—the Hocking Hills of southern Ohio.

The Hocking Hills region is centered around Hocking County in southeastern Ohio with some overlap into adjacent counties as well. The region is typical of southern Ohio in that its rugged, rolling terrain is largely covered with great tracts of seemingly unbounded woodlands. But what sets the Hocking Hills apart are a number of breathtaking dramatic rock formations, deep gorges, waterfalls, and towering cliffs. Out-of-staters who think of Ohio as flat farmland will be astonished to find topography like this just one short hour out of Columbus.

Not surprisingly, the seclusion and natural beauty make the Hocking Hills one of the state’s principal tourist destinations, especially during the warmer months. But there’s reason to visit no matter the season—blazing fall foliage, the wildflowers of spring, and even the magnificent ice formations bedecking the gorges and cliffs in wintertime all make the region worthy of yearlong exploration. Outdoor activities abound, such as hiking, rock climbing, canoeing and kayaking, fishing, and birdwatching, but the area’s other offerings include everything from tours of the country’s only remaining washboard factory to a ride on the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. Options of what to see and do are plentiful, but don’t forget to save time for relaxing!

Old Man's Cave at Hocking Hills State Park

Getting the Lay of the Land

Many of the region’s most visited natural formations can be found in Hocking Hills State Park—its four million visitors per year offer testament to its scenic beauty. The most magnificent site in the park, and the most visited, is Old Man’s Cave, a half-mile long and 150 foot-deep gorge with both an “Upper” and “Lower” waterfalls and a recess cave where, legend has it, the “Old Man” (a hermit named Richard Rowe) resided in the early 1800s.

Not far away is the much-photographed Cedar Falls, artfully dropping down a sloping rock formation. It’s especially dramatic after a big rainfall. Also nearby is Ash Cave, a horseshoe-shaped recess cave 700 feet in length with a much smaller waterfall that forms a towering stalagmite of ice in the winter.

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Farther afield and therefore less touristed are attractions like Rock House, the region’s only true cave with high ceilings and window-like openings overlooking a gorge, and Cantwell Cliffs, offering scenery rivaling Old Man’s Cave but with a fraction of the visitors.

Other nearby state parks include Burr Oak, Lake Logan, Lake Hope, and Tar Hollow, as well as the mammoth Wayne National Forest. State nature preserves in the area include Rock Bridge, with Ohio’s largest natural bridge, and Conkle’s Hollow, where soaring 200-foot cliffs flank a narrow gorge.

To sort out the options of interest to you, begin your visit to Hocking Hills State Park’s state-of-the-art visitors center. It gives overviews of the major attractions but also offers specific information on length and approximate hike times for each trail, as well as their level of difficulty, ranging from the paved, wheelchair-accessible trail at Ash Cave to the 6-mile-long route connecting Cedar Falls to Old Man’s Cave. Interactive screens in the visitor’s center offer suggestions for the best places to see waterfalls, go picnicking, take in scenic views, or go hiking with a naturalist, with children, or even with your dog. Whiteboards offer both naturalists and visitors a place to scribble notes on where wildlife have been sighted or what’s blooming and where to find it.

The best place to pick up information, maps, and brochures on sites outside Hocking Hills State Park is the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center near Logan, easy to spot from the road because of its distinctive water wheel. The Center is also a registered Monarch Waystation, where you can watch the butterflies emerge from their chrysalis and be released to begin their long journey to Mexico.

Scenic View Of Cave In Hocking Hills State Park

Things to See and Do

I’ve fed hummingbirds by hand at Lake Hope State Park. I’ve canoed the Hocking River by moonlight. And I’ve heard world-class performances in the intimate Stuart’s Opera House in Nelsonville. Those are just the beginning of the diverse experiences available in the Hocking Hills region, which also include:

  • Hocking Hills Canopy Tours: Go zip lining through the treetops or be a daredevil and do their “SuperZip” that sends you flying, Superman-style, at speeds up to 50 miles per hour.
  • John Glenn Astronomy Park: See the jagged edges of the moon’s craters from a low-power telescope on the park’s plaza, and venture inside the observatory to see things like the rings of Saturn on the fourth-largest telescope in Ohio.
  • Columbus Washboard Company: Tour the only remaining washboard manufacturer in the country, making 40,000 washboards per year for people in the military or folks who just don’t want to go to the laundromat. The 24-foot-tall washboard hanging from the exterior is the largest in the world.
  • Hocking Valley Scenic Railway: Take a ride on a vintage train powered by a coal-fired steam locomotive. Themed trips include “Ohio’s Friendliest Train Robbery,” where bandits on horseback attempt a robbery, all in good fun.
  • Southern Ohio School of Blacksmithing: Take a daylong course on the basics of blacksmithing, completing four projects to take home. Women are encouraged to join in!
  • Spa services: Enjoy several types of massage or get a salt scrub or a mud wrap in a rustic setting at either The Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls or at Ash Cave Getaway Day Spa.
  • Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours: See the region’s geological wonders from above in a small aircraft departing from the Vinton County airport. Reserve far ahead for a flight in the fall when below you will be an unbroken blanket of red, orange, and yellow colors.
  • Horseback riding: Several companies offer interesting excursions on horseback, like the one led by Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable to the haunted Moonville Tunnel, an abandoned railroad tunnel still frequented by the spirit of a brakeman killed along the tracks.
  • Jack Pine Studio: Watch famed glassblower Jack Pine and his assistants making the signature glass pumpkins the studio is famed for, as well as hummingbird feeders, ornaments, and vases, all available for purchase in the attached gift shop.

Where to Stay

The various lodging options in the Hocking Hills are plentiful. Myself, I return to the Inn at Cedar Falls over and over. It’s surrounded on all sides by the forest and has a number of accommodation types to choose from. There’s the original two-story Inn just adjacent to the facility’s fine dining restaurant. But there are also log cabins suitable for families and remote hilltop cottages just the right size for couples. A newer lodging option are luxury yurts.

Glenlaurel, an adults-only Scottish-themed inn, is another upscale lodging option, also with luxuriously appointed cottages sprinkled through the grounds not far from the property’s private gorge. A Scottish pub and a Scottish-style Links golf course reinforce the Old World theme.

Other unique accommodations include Ravenwood Castle, complete with crenellated ramparts and a mock drawbridge entrance and themed rooms like Rapunzel’s Tower and the two-story King Arthur suite. Just outside is their “Medieval Village,” a cluster of brightly colored cottages with turrets and half-timbered architecture. Just down the road, Fiddlestix Village is a cluster of historic structures available for nightly rental, including a 1926 B & O caboose and a former country store complete with a potbelly stove and a kitchenette resembling an old-time soda fountain.

The number of private cottages and cabins available for rental literally number in the hundreds and come in all shapes and sizes, from small log cabins suitable for a couple to huge lodges accommodating 32 people. Many have their own private lakes and walking trails, along with fully stocked kitchens, hot tubs, and satellite TV. Use the “Places to Stay” tab at the Hocking Hills visitor site, or use one of the brokers who list multiple cabins on their websites, like Cabins by the Caves or Hocking Hills Quality Lodging.

Similarly, those who want to camp in a tent or RV have a vast number of choices both in the state parks and on private property.

Where to Eat

Folks who prefer to cook their own meals in their cabins can find supplies either at supermarkets in Logan or at Grandma Faye’s Grocery and Deli near Old Man’s Cave, a general store selling a bit of everything. But for those who want to leave the cooking to someone else, a number of choices are available.

Fine dining experiences can be found both at Kindred Spirits, the restaurant at the Inn at Cedar Falls, and at Glenlaurel, both of which serve the general public as well as their overnight guests. Kindred Spirits is housed inside an 1840’s log cabin, offering gourmet à la carte fare, while Glenlaurel’s dinners are feasts of several courses with bagpipe accompaniment on Saturdays.

A number of family-style restaurants and diners are clustered in Logan and Nelsonville, the two most sizable towns of the region, and also along four-lane U.S. 33, the main highway traversing the area. My personal favorites are Millstone BBQ in Logan, which offers musical entertainment on weekends, and The Boot Grill inside the Rocky Outdoor Gear store adjacent to the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway in Nelsonville. Try their bison burger!

Another favorite is the Ridge Inn in Laurelville, famed for their meatloaf and melt-in-your-mouth doughnuts. Don’t even try to find out the secret ingredients in the meatloaf—just enjoy!

Afterwards, walk across the street to the Laurelville Fruit Company for tasty cider made from their own orchard’s apples. Also during apple season, consider picking your own apples at Hocking Hills Orchard outside Logan. More than 1,600 varieties of heirloom apple varieties are available here, including George Washington’s favorite and a variety enjoyed by the Romans. Spend some time chatting with owner Derek Mills, truly the Johnny Appleseed of the 21st century!

Ash Cave Waterfall

Hiring a Guide

Definitely allow some alone time during your stay in the Hocking Hills, either hiking or just sitting on the porch of your cabin sojourning with nature. But when you’re looking for guidance on where to find the best natural experiences, there’s no shortage of local companies and individuals who can help.

Naturalist-led tours in Hocking Hills State Park offer unforgettable experiences. I once heard a guide call for owls, and even better, the owl answered! I’ve also foraged and eaten woodland flora like sourwood leaves at High Rock Adventures, where I’ve watched folks braver than myself rappel down sheer rock faces and squeeze through tight spaces on their tummies. I watched our guide at Hocking Hills Adventure Trek overturn rocks in a woodland stream to reveal salamanders and other critters (This company also offers experiences in rock climbing, archery, and belly boat fishing).

More recently, I experienced a magical evening kayaking on secluded Lake Hope as the sun was setting and the moon was rising, a tour led by Mimi Morrison with Touch the Earth Adventures. Our goal was to catch sight of the elusive beavers who reside there, but one of them made it easy for me by swimming directly in front of my kayak.

Tips for Visiting

Do not underestimate how secluded you will be in the Hocking Hills. Your cellphone will likely not get a signal except near the larger towns. Likewise, your smartphone may not give you access to the Internet; potential access to Wi-Fi is one of the considerations you’ll want to weigh in your choice of accommodations. And make sure to top off your gas before driving into the Hills; gas stations outside larger towns are few and far between.

When hiking, stay on marked trails and pay attention to signs warning you of nearby dangers. With all the cliffs and sheer drop offs in the area, you don’t want to risk hurting yourself where rescue will be difficult.

Drive slowly because the roads are quite twisty, and there’s a fairly substantial risk of a deer darting out in front of you. Allow time for serendipitous, unplanned driving because you never know what vistas and rarely seen critters like foxes and porcupines you’ll see. Make sure to have a good old-fashioned paper map on hand. Your GPS likely won’t function, and you’ll need the map to find out how to get back to where you want to go!

The 5 Best Things to Do in the Hocking Hills for One Day

Whether you know me at all, you know I love a good underrated destination. After a trip to the state of Ohio in 2019, I was pretty convinced that Columbus was the gem of the trip. However it’s the Hocking Hills, just one hour south of the city, that really wowed me on my trip. Though I’d never heard of it before my visit, it turns out there are some incredible things to do in the Hocking Hills!

Because of its proximity to Columbus, the Hocking Hills are a great getaway for a day excursion, overnight getaway, or weekend trip. I spent an overnight in the Hocking Hills during my trip, and I think this is a great amount of time if you want to plan a trip too.

Things to do in the Hocking Hills - Featured

In this post, you’ll find a guide to planning a trip to the Hocking Hills and the best things to do in the Hocking Hills region. I also include other advice to help you make the most of your time in this beautiful part of southeastern Ohio – no matter how long you have.

In this post, I promote travel to a destination that is the traditional lands of the Shawandasse Tula (Shawanwaki/Shawnee), Kaskaskia, Hopewell Culture, Adena Culture, and Ofo peoples. With respect, I make a formal land acknowledgment, extending my appreciation and respect to the past and present people of these lands. To learn more about the peoples who call these lands home, I invite you to explore Native Land.

This post was originally published in July 2019, and was updated in July 2021.

Table of Contents

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Planning Your Visit to the Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills - Pencil Museum

Hocking Hills - Pencil Museum

Inside the Pencil Sharpener Museum, located outside the Hocking Hills Visitor Center. Definitely a must see and an easy stop when you’re getting more info about the area!

Before I jump into the best things to do during your day in the Hocking Hills, I want to cover a few quick logistics. I promise I’ll keep it quick; you can use the table of contents above to jump to the section you care about.

  • Driving & Parking in the Hocking Hills Area – The Hocking Hills is traversed by a network of two-lane state highway roads. They’re fully paved and easy to drive. There are parking lots at almost every popular destination in the park too, and if you arrive early enough there won’t be any problems finding a great place.
  • Hocking Hills State Park Entrance Fees – Here’s a fun one: there is no fee to enter Hocking Hills State Park! Woo! The park is totally free, which makes it great for travelers or families on any budget.

Those are the basic logistics you need to know about visiting the Hocking Hills. Now let’s dig into what you can do once you get there!

The 5 Best Things to Do in the Hocking Hills

Things to do in the Hocking Hills - Cedar Falls

Things to do in the Hocking Hills

No matter how much time you have – and what time of year you visit –, you’re going to have to make some choices among the fun things to do in the Hocking Hills. There’s so much to do, it’s inevitable that you’ll have to choose between which parts of the park you’ll visit, which nearby attractions you’ll enjoy, and which hikes you’ll make.

1. Explore Hocking Hills State Park

Things to do in the Hocking Hills

No trip to the Hocking Hills is complete without visiting its namesake state park. Hocking Hills State Park is 9.5 square miles, full of surprising natural beauty crisscrossed by winding trails and roads. Here are some of the highlights; you could also spend a day or more hiking at or between these sights.

Old Man’s Cave

Old Man’s Cave is the top attraction in Hocking Hills State Park. It’s named for the hermit Richard Rowe, who lived in the large recess cave of the gorge in the late 18th century. Old Man’s Cave is generally considered to be one of the most picturesque parts of the Hocking Hills, including a gorge and waterfalls. It’s also one of the easiest parts of the park to visit.

Ash Cave

Hocking Hills - Ash Falls

Hocking Hills - Ash Falls

Ash Cave is another popular sight in Hocking Hills State Park; to me, it offers the most wow factor. This huge cave has several easy trails including several with overlooks.

I personally loved the popular trail that takes you to the cave floor. You can walk right up to the edge of the pool formed by the waterfall that helped created this cave.

Cedar Falls

Things to do in the Hocking Hills - Cedar Falls

Another beautiful waterfall system in the Hocking Hills, Cedar Falls is a moderate walk that ends with scenic views of the region’s biggest waterfall by volume.

Cedar Falls is beautiful year-round, but when I visited in the early summer it was a gorgeous verdant climb down to the banks of the Queer Creek. From there, you’ll walk up the stream to the falls.

Conkle’s Hollow

I didn’t make it to Conkle’s Hollow on my overnight trip to the Hocking Hills, but everyone I talked to – locals and those from Columbus – raved about it. It’s a huge gorge, arguably the most stunning vista in the Hocking Hills, especially in the autumn when the fall foliage is at its peak.

There are a handful of hikes in Conkle’s Hollow, including some that are more challenging if you want a more ambitious option for your day in the Hocking Hills.

2. Zip Lining

Hocking Hills - Zip Lining

Hocking Hills - Zip Lining

I started my short trip to the Hocking Hills with an adventure I’d never done before: zip lining! The massive trees and verdant canopy provide the perfect setting to strap yourself into a harness and zoom among the boughs on the zip lines.

I did the “Original” tour at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours which included 10 rides around their 53-acre property. They also offer a fun alternative if you’ve tried zip lining before: night zip lining! Stars overhead, adrenaline-pumping – what’s not to love?

3. Bouldering/Rock Climbing/Rappelling

For you more adventurous types, there are some other options. If you love rock climbing or bouldering, Hocking Hills State Park has some good rock formations in the designated “Climbing and Rappelling Area,” including Amazing Grace and Rectangle Rock.

There are also some good spots for rappelling if you prefer down instead of up. High Rock Adventures offers rappelling tours if you want a guide (and night rappelling, because yes, the night sky is really that good here!).

4. Canoeing/Kayaking

If you love to get out on the water, I feel you. Kayaking is one of my favorite adventure activities, and you’ve got great choices in the Hocking Hills. Hocking Hills Canoe Livery offers canoe, kayak, and raft trips on the Hocking River. They also offer a moonlit tour if you want to do some adventure water sports under the area’s great dark skies.

5. Stargazing

Hocking Hills - Stargazing

Hocking Hills - Stargazing

One of the other big attractions in the Hocking Hills is the night sky overhead. John Glenn Astronomy Park opened in 2018 at the edge of the State Park and it has become an instant crowd-pleaser.

Director Brad Hoehne met me before sunset during my visit and showed me around the huge plaza. He ended up giving an impromptu tour of the night sky on one of the private observatory telescopes as other folks turned up over the course of the evening.

If you have any interest in the night sky, JGAP is one of the best stargazing spots near Columbus and great for all ages.

One Perfect Day in the Hocking Hills

Things to do in the Hocking Hills

Now that you’re fully inspired by all the things to do in the Hocking Hills, here’s what I think you should do if you only have a single day or two half-days with an overnight. I created this itinerary based on my own experience with a few modifications so you can make the most of your one day in the Hocking Hills.

Morning

  • Early Morning – Rise early to drive from Columbus if that’s where you’re staying. Like I said above, it’s a 70-minute drive, so you’ll want to set out early to get a full day in the Hocking Hills. (As an aside, I highly suggest staying the night so you can enjoy the day completely. I’ve recommended a few places to stay at the end of this post.)
  • Breakfast – There are a few local restaurantas that serve breakfast in the nearby town of Logan. M&M Family Diner or Pearl Diner are both good local options. After lunch, I recommend swinging by the town’s Kroger grocery store to grab a picnic lunch.
  • Mid-Morning – Head to Hocking Hills State Park for a bit of sightseeing. The park is of a good size that you can see 2-3 of the sights I recommended above in a morning. I’d start with Old Man’s Cave since it tends to draw the biggest crowds; then Ash Cave for sure too.

Afternoon

  • Lunch – For lunch, break out your picnic lunch. You can eat while hiking, or swing by one of the picnic areas in the park. Cedar Falls is a good option with picnic tables near the parking lot.
  • Afternoon – The afternoon is a great time to get your heart racing with a zip lining course at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours. Their “Original” 10-line tour is a perfect option.

Night

  • Dinner – Head out toward town to Millstone BBQ for dinner. I had the pulled pork with cornbread and it was utterly delicious. Their dishes are all hearty enough to help you recover from a day of outdoor adventure.

Hocking Hills - Stargazing

Hocking Hills - Stargazing

  • Evening – Obviously, the best thing to do after dark is stargazing! Head to John Glenn Astronomy Park to see what they’re watching in the sky during your visit. If you crave a little more adventure, you could sign up for one of those night canoeing, rappelling, or zip lining tours I recommended instead.

After all that fun it’s time to call it a day… or is it night? You could drive back to Columbus if you have the energy, or check out one of the accommodations I recommend below.

Where to Stay in the Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills - Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Hocking Hills - Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

During my trip to the Hocking Hills, I stayed at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, right in the heart of the region. The private luxury cabins are cozy and perfect for a weekend getaway; I could easily have stayed on the back porch all night! The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls also has a beautiful small spa where you can relax even more with a massage, and a restaurant set in the original rustic building which is perfect for dinner or a nightcap.

Hocking Hills - Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Hocking Hills - Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

Hocking Hills State Park also has a large number of accommodation options. You can choose to stay at one of the area campgrounds, book a cabin or cottage in or near the park, or spend the night in a treehouse – yes, you read that right!

V’s Recommended Vacation Rentals

As usual, I’ve perused some of the vacation rental options in the area, and here are some of the cabin rentals that catch my eye:

  • Woodland Ridge CabinsThis gorgeous cabin offers a wood-burning stove, hot tub, and gorgeous views. From $156/night; book onExpedia or VRBO. – This gorgeous, historic cabin will feel like you’ve stepped back in time, with some creature comforts and plenty of room for the whole family. From $209/night; book directly on their website.
  • The Yurt at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls – Part of the property where I stayed, this yurt is a more off-beat option. From $269/night; book on Booking.com.

Now you’re all set to plan your own trip full of things to do in the Hocking Hills, whether you stay just one overnight or turn it into a weekend trip (I won’t blame you!). If you have other questions about visiting or things to do in the Hocking Hills, let me know in the comments!

This post was created in partnership with Hocking Hills, Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, and the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. All of the various activities, excursions, and other recommendations were included at my own discretion.

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Valerie

I was born on the East Coast and currently live in the Midwest – but my heart will always be out West. I lived for 15 years in Alaska, as well as four years each in California and Washington. I share travel resources and stories based on my personal experience and knowledge.

6 Comments

Trisha Farrar

We love that you enjoyed your time in the Hocking Hills!
We also now have a Wellness Studio, Inner Wisdom Wellness offering yoga, massages, wellness retreats, sessions on health and stress management and more. Enjoy some services right at your cabin or visit our beautiful studio. Visit http://www.innerwisdomwellness.com for info. Come back and see us soon!

Valerie

Sounds great, Trisha! I’ll be sure to reach out next time I’m in the area!

Phillip Chappie

We have been going to Hocking Hills for about 10 years sometimes twice a year. We still find new trails to walk. It never seems enough time when there. The most beautiful place in Ohio.

Valerie

I agree! Thanks for reading!

Diane

I live about 30 miles from Hocking Hills. I have bee there many times over the years, during all seasons. It is awesome when the falls are frozen. There is a winter hike in January.

Source https://midwestexplored.com/things-to-do-in-hocking-hills/

Source https://www.tripsavvy.com/guide-to-ohio-hocking-hills-region-5078905

Source https://www.valisemag.com/one-day-hocking-hills/

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