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.
Learn about the all-new Hocking Hills State Park Lodge under construction now.
Construction of the new Hocking Hills State Park lodge began on July 1, 2020. This new facility replaces the former day-use dining lodge that was destroyed in a Dec. 2016 fire. Exciting features of the two-story lodge include 81 overnight guestrooms, a full-service restaurant, and indoor and outdoor pools.
Hocking Hills State Park Campground offers Full Hookup and Electric camp sites with 20-, 30- or 50-amp service, and Non-electric sites. The park also offers Primitive "hike-in" tent-only sites, a primitive Group Camp, Sherman Cabins with limited amenities, and fully outfitted vacation Cabins.
Reservations are required and may be made online or by calling (866) 644-6727.
Trails at Hocking Hills State Park are open from 1/2-hour before sunrise to 1/2-hour after sunset. (OAC 1501:3-46-07)
The trail system at Hocking Hills offers a variety of hiking options. Many of the trails have been re-routed for one-way hiking, which improves safety without taking away from the park's majestic scenery and breathtaking views. Please follow directional signage.
Visitors must remain on the marked trails at all times. Young children should be closely supervised while on the hiking trails. Visitors are urged to wear appropriate foot attire and be cautious of trail conditions, especially in winter months when the trails are typically covered in ice. Appropriate outerwear and footwear (including ice cleats) are recommended.
- Ash Cave Gorge - 1/4-mile - Easy - Handicap Accessible
- Ash Cave Rim - 1/4-mile - Moderate
- Cantwell Cliffs - 2 miles - Difficult
- Cedar Falls - 1 mile - Moderate
- Old Man's Cave - 1 mile - Moderate
- Rock House - 1 mile - Moderate
- Whispering Cave Trail (includes the "swinging" Hemlock Bridge) - 4.5 miles - Difficult. Features the second largest cave in the region with a 105-foot seasonal waterfall cascading to the floor below.
Buckeye Trail and American Discovery Trail join with the Grandma Gatewood Trail for 6 miles through the park. The trail is rated difficult.
Nearby Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve offers two traditional trails; one is handicapped-accessible. No pets are permitted in the nature preserve.
An archery range with five static targets and 22 3D targets is open from daylight until dark year-round. Archers must bring their own equipment.
The park's 17-acre Rose Lake is available for paddling and boats with electric motors. It is easy to hand launch boats, but boats must be carried in on a half-mile hiking trail which is located off of State Route 374. Registered campers have about 300 feet of shore access to the lake.
The park offers 5 miles of bridle trail. An additional 33 miles of bridle trail are located in Hocking State Forest. The system, one of the most popular riding destinations in Ohio, is available to riders with their own mounts.
Fishing is allowed at the 17-acre Rose Lake. Access is off of State Route 374 via a 1/2-mile hiking trail off of State Route 374. Anglers will enjoy catching rainbow trout, channel catfish, bass, and blue gill.
Under the proper conditions, park visitors can enjoy ice fishing during winter months.
Hunting is permitted in designated areas of the park and in the adjacent Hocking State Forest.
- Purple Trail Loop - 2 miles - Moderate
- Orange Trail Loop - 2 miles - Difficult
The park offers several picnic areas with tables, grills, and latrines at popular areas in the park.
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 dining lodge was closed for renovations when it burned down in 2013. Plans are to expand the dining lodge into a resort lodge with overnight options, restaurant, and conference/group facilities, to open in 2022.
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 seem 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 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.