Located in southeastern Ohio, Hocking Hills State Park has received national and international acclaim as a top park to visit. Stunning in every season, the park features towering cliffs, waterfalls, and deep, hemlock-shaded gorges for hikers and nature lovers to enjoy. Visitors can look forward to views of wildflowers adorning the forest floor in springtime and vivid foliage in the fall.
The park's small campground offers full service, electric sites with 20-, 30- or 50-amp service, and primitive sites. The park also offers primitive "hike-in only" camp sites for hikers and a youth camping area. Pit latrines are provided.
Learn more about Hocking Hills State Park Campground.
Reservations are needed for both camp areas and may be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Recently remodeled, the park's modern vacation cabins are available year round. The cabins feature a screened porch, where guests can lounge in custom-built Adirondack chairs made from native lumber by the Division of Forestry. Other amenities include:
- Gas-heated, air-conditioned
- Two bedrooms; sleeps up to six persons
- Living room with wide-screen TV, bath with a shower, dining area
- Complete kitchen including microwave and cooking utensils
- Gas fireplace
- Fire ring
- Linens provided
An archery range with five static targets and 22 3-D targets is open from daylight until dark year-round.
Boats with electric motors and paddlecraft are allowed at the 17-acre Rose Lake. Access is carry-in, off of State Route 374 via a 1/2-mile hiking trail.
Fishing is allowed at the 17-acre Rose Lake. Access is off of State Route 374 via a 1/2-mile hiking trail. A valid Ohio fishing license is required.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park and in the adjacent Hocking State Forest. A valid Ohio hunting license is required.
Six picnic areas with tables, grills, latrines, and drinking water are located at each of the recess caves.
Multiple hiking trails traverse the park, giving visitors a chance to view the majestic scenery. These trails are beautiful as well as potentially dangerous. Caution and common sense are necessary. Young children should be closely supervised while on the hiking trails. All park visitors must remain on the marked trails at all times. Trails are typically covered in ice in winter months.
Whispering Cave features the second largest cave in the region with a 105-foot seasonal waterfall cascading to the floor below. Visitors can access the Hemlock Bridge Trail, which features a swinging bridge, near the cabins or by using a new connecting trail located halfway between Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave.
Thirty-three miles of bridle trail are located in the state forest, along with portions of the Buckeye Trail. The system, one of the most popular riding destinations in Ohio, is available to riders with their own mounts.
- Ash Cave Gorge - 1/4 mile - Easy - Handicap Accessible
- Ash Cave Rim - 1/2 mile - Moderate
- Cantwell Cliffs - 1 mile - Difficult
- Cedar Falls - 1/2 mile - Moderate
- Conkles Hollow - 1 mile - Easy - Handicap Accessible
- Conkles Hollow Rim - 2.5 miles - Moderate
- Hemlock Bridge Trail - 1 mile - Moderate
- Old Man's Cave - 1 mile - Moderate
- Rock House - 1/2 mile - Moderate
- Whispering Cave Trail - 1/2 mile - Easy
Buckeye Trail - 6 miles through the park - Moderate
Mountain bike trails
- Purple Trail Loop - 2 miles - Moderate
- Orange Trail Loop - 2 miles - Difficult
Thirty-three miles of bridle trail are located in the adjacent state forest. The bridle trail system, one of the most popular riding destinations in Ohio, is available to riders with their own mounts.
Download the Hocking Hills Trail Map
Park guests can enjoy the icy splendors of winter during the colder months. Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy ice fishing during the colder months. A popular event is the annual winter hike, typically held in January. The hike is more than 50 years old. Appropriate outerwear and footwear is recommended for participants.
More to Do
- Special events and nature programs are offered year round
- Visitors center at Old Man's Cave offers restrooms, gift shop, and educational exhibits
- Rock climbing/rappelling area is available in the adjacent 9,238-acre Hocking State Forest
History & Natural Features
The hollows and caves of the park complex have long attracted the peoples of Ohio. Evidence of the ancient Adena culture illustrates that man first inhabited the recesses more than 7,000 years ago.
In the mid-1700s, several Native American tribes traveled through or lived here, including the Wyandot, Delaware, and Shawnee. Their name for the river was Hockhocking, or “Bottle River,” referring to the bottle shaped valley of the Hocking River. The park derives its current name from the river’s nickname; its formation is due to a one-time blockage by glacial ice.
After the Greenville Treaty of 1795, numerous settlers moved into the region and Hocking County was organized in 1818. The area around the park began to develop in 1835 when a powder mill was built near Rock House and a grist mill was constructed at Cedar Falls.
By 1870, the cave areas were well-known as scenic attractions. In 1924, the first land purchase by the state was made to preserve the scenic features. This first parcel of 146 acres included Old Man's Cave. Subsequent purchases expanded the public lands, which existed under the Department of Forestry as State Forest Parks. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources was created in 1949 and the new Division of Parks and Recreation assumed control of the Hocking Hills State Park complex, which today includes seven park areas. A dining lodge and cottages were opened in 1972.
The natural history of this region is as fascinating as it is beautiful. Here, in these sandstones, visitors can read Ohio’s history from the rocks. The scenic features of the seven areas of the Hocking Hills State Park complex are carved in the Black Hand Sandstone. This bedrock was deposited more than 350 million years ago as a delta in the warm shallow sea, which covered Ohio at that time. Millions of years of uplift and stream erosion created the awesome beauty we see today.
The sandstone varies in composition and hardness from a softer, loosely cemented middle zone to harder top and bottom layers. The recess caves at Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Whispering Cave, and Cantwell Cliff are all carved in the softer middle zone.Weathering and erosion widened cracks found in the middle layer of sandstone at the Rock House to create that unusual formation.
Other features of the rock include cross-bedding, honeycomb weathering, and slump blocks. The cross-bedding is a cross section of an ancient sand bar in the delta that caused by changing ocean currents. Honeycomb weathering looks like the small holes in a beehive comb. They are formed when water washes out small pockets of loosely cemented sand grains. Finally, the huge slump blocks of rock littering the streams tumble from nearby cliffs when cracks widen to the extent that the block is no longer supported by the main cliff.
Although glaciers never reached the park areas, their influence is still seen here in the form of the vegetation growing in the gorges. The glaciers changed the climate of all Ohio to a moist, cool environment. Upon their retreat, this condition persisted only in a few places, such as the deep gorges of Hocking County. Therefore, the towering eastern hemlocks, the Canada yew, and the yellow and black birch tell of a cool period 10,000 years ago.