14 Sep Waterfalls and Hiking at Hocking Hills State Park
A healthy mix of nature and city adventure is always on our to-do list. As much as we enjoy exploring cities, we are ecstatic anytime we can sneak away for a dose of nature. When we were visiting Columbus, Ohio, we couldn’t resist heading an hour outside of the city for the waterfalls and hiking at Hocking Hills State Park.
When we arrived at the Hocking Hills State Park, we saw a sign that dubbed the park to have “the most exciting trails in the state,” so we were looking forward to exploring. There are several miles of trails throughout the park—the longest is six miles and the shortest is ¼ mile. We were a bit confused where the trails started and ended. They all seemed to run together to create several loops throughout the park, so even though a trail shows it’s ½ mile long, you might have to hike a mile to even reach the starting point. That said, we made our way through several of the trails with plenty of stops for photos in around three hours. While we could have spent all day exploring, we were able to see many of the beautiful features the park has to offer in a few hours. Most of the trails are relatively easy; although, you will encounter stairs on numerous trails throughout the park.
The landscapes at Hocking Hills State Park are absolutely gorgeous. You will find waterfalls, caves, rivers, canyons, stone bridges and more. We were surprised to find such gorgeous landscapes in the middle of Ohio—it seemed as though the views got better with every step we took!
We started out by making our way to Old Man’s Cave. The cave looks large on photos, but photos just don’t do it justice (especially with the mid-morning lighting we encountered). Old Man’s Cave towered above us and it was the perfect introduction for what was to come.
It didn’t matter where you were standing, the views of the cave were fantastic. We explored the sights under the cave, from the platforms and ledges next to the cave, and from even across the river with the stone arch bridge in the foreground.
After crossing the stone bridge, we found the trail split in two directions—we turned to the right and decided we would make our way back to explore the trail to the left later. This trail led us to a giant staircase which went up and then back down again. The view we found at the bottom of the staircase was one of my favorites in the park: Lower Falls.
Next up on the trail were even more steps that led to yet another staircase. This portion of the trail led us back to where we started, so we did a bit of backtracking.
We passed through the Old Man’s Cave area again, but instead of turning right after the bridge, we went left.This portion of the trail ran along the river, and we made our way through tunnels, over bridges and up and down even more steps. I loved how green the scenery was; even the rocks were covered in pretty moss.
The next waterfall we encountered was Upper Falls and it was framed ever so nicely by a beautiful stone arch bridge. It was such a pretty sight, and a wonderful view to have as one of our last in the park. From there, we made our way up towards the bridge above Upper Falls. From the bridge you can see more waterfalls upriver as well as Upper Falls below.
After pulling ourselves away from the gorgeous views, we were soon back in the parking lot where we started our hike. When we arrived at around 10:00 a.m. on a Wednesday morning, the parking lot was just over half full. By the time we left, there were cars waiting to find a spot. The crowds were heavy throughout our visit, but we couldn’t believe how many more people were arriving as we got into our car to head back to town. To avoid the crowds, weekday mornings are likely your best bet, but even if you are sharing the views with countless others, they are going to be spectacular no matter what!
We visited Columbus as part of a video project campaign. Special thanks to Travel Mindset and Experience Columbus for hosting us on our adventures through the city. As always, all opinions are our own.