Hocking Hills, OH
I think I might be in love with Hocking Hills, OH. We traveled there last weekend for a wedding and added on a day of camping. We got in so much hiking but there was still miles more that I wanted to do! This hiking loop takes you past some of the park’s most famous views including Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls. This is the most popular part of Hocking Hills so the trails might be a bit busy. Make sure you set aside lots of time for this hike because this is one place you don’t want to rush through! The rocky gorge is absolutely incredible and will make you forget that you’re in Ohio! Afterward, head over to Lake Logan and grab a refreshing brew at Brewery 33 Hocking Hills. The perfect getaway weekend!
THE HIKE: Old Man’s Cave and Gorge Loop
Length: 6.5 miles
Elevation Gain: 425 ft
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: large lot by visitor center
First of all, the biggest congrats to my wonderful cousin and her new wife! They’re the whole reason that we made it out to Hocking Hills and I couldn’t be happier for these two wonderful ladies. During the wedding weekend, J and I split the cutest AirBnb with my parents. It was a three bedroom cabin on a little pond and was pretty much everything I could want from a cabin. We were treated to a chorus of frogs at night and an ensemble of birds in the morning. I will definitely be staying here again!
Although the wedding weekend was pretty packed with activities and setting up for the party, we still managed to fit in a few hikes. Since we knew we’d be busy, J and I decided to take Monday off and try our hands at camping! Now we’ve been camping before, but only ever with other people. It was all on us this time and I think we did pretty well! Plus staying the extra day meant that we could check out some of the popular parts of the park without the weekend crowds.
For our “big” hike of the weekend, we did a 6.5 mile loop starting at the Hocking Hills Visitor Center. First of all, this is a super nice center with bathrooms, water fountains, and lots of interpretive displays. We chatted with a ranger that gave us the lowdown on the best loop to see everything in this area of the park. Armed with a map and plenty of water, we were ready to set out!
One of the things I liked best about the Hocking Hills area is that most of the trails are one way. Since a lot of the trails travel along narrow cliff faces, this is a must for safety! So keep on trail and follow the arrows. This loop starts on the blue blaze, immediately taking you down in the gorge following along the Old Man’s Creek. The first natural feature you’ll see is the Devil’s Bathtub, a unique stone feature that the creek has carved out over millennia to look like a pool for bathing. Keep following along the path until you see the signs for Old Man’s Cave. Okay, I’ll be honest that this is the only point where I didn’t obey the one way signs. The path into and through the cave is one way and you can’t get back to the blue blaze with going halfway back to the visitor’s center. So we snuck back after exploring the cave area. Don’t tell on us!
Back on the blue trail, we continued past features like the stone cliff that looks like a Sphinx head and the Lower Falls. I cannot even express how beautiful the gorge in this area is. Pictures don’t do it justice, you’ll just have to come and see for yourself! As you leave the Old Man’s Cave area, trail traffic will decrease significantly and there will be less sculpted trails. At one point you will hit a crossroads in the trail and you’ll have to decide if you’d like to add on the Whispering Cave loop (an extra 1.5 miles). We opted not to because the weather was calling for afternoon storms and I already couldn’t believe how long we had taken to do 2 miles! As you continued along towards Cedar Falls, be prepared for some rock scrambles and more difficult trails. Despite the glory of the caves, this was actually my favorite section of the trail. We kept coming across beautiful waterfalls and it felt like we had the entire woods to ourselves. The last major feature before getting off the blue blaze is the massive Cedar Falls. It’s the largest falls (in terms of volume) in the park. At this point, you’ll switch to the red blaze and start making your way up the stairs to the rim trail.
Now, don’t panic when you realize that you’re only halfway through the hike. I think it took us about 2.5 hours to get through the first part. We took tons of pictures and spent a lot of time just enjoying the views. Plus the rocky trails make it difficult to go too fast. But once you hit the rim trail, it’s quite flat and more like a normal forest hike. We got through this section and were back at the visitor center in just over an hour! Now if you’re looking to beef up this hike a bit, try tacking on Whispering Cave like I mentioned earlier. You can also do a loop around Rose Lake! Really the possibilities are endless. Just make sure to check the weather before heading out and pack enough water and snacks if you’re doing a long day hike.
Well folks, I’m gonna be talking about this hike for a LONG time. It’s only April but I have a feeling this is going to be in my top 5 hikes of the year. And after such a cool hike, you need to rest up and Brewery 33 Hocking Hills is the perfect place to do it!
THE BEER: Brewery 33 Hocking Hills
Address: 12684 College Prospect Dr, Logan, OH 43138
Distance from Trail Head: 11 miles, 17 mins
Food?: BYOF or Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly
H&H Rating: 4/5
Brewery 33 sits right next to Lake Logan and about 15 minutes away from the Hocking Hills Visitor Center. They offer both indoor and outdoor seating and are very pet and kiddo friendly! Although there’s no kitchen, check to see if a food truck is on the schedule or get takeout from one of the restaurants nearby. We lucked out and had amazingly beautiful weather the day we visited. It was so nice to sit in the sun with a couple of beer and just relax. And the nice thing about traveling with company is you get to sample more! Any time we go to a brewery with my parents, we all taste each other’s beers. Brewery 33 had a lot of good stuff to offer, but my favorite by far was the Mingo Mango Sour. It’s their basic german sour brewed with fresh mango juice. I love a good fruity beer and this was the most refreshing brew I’ve had in a long time. The only thing that could have been better was if it was a slushie! My second favorite was the Pottery Pale Ale which was a perfect porch beer. We had a great time at Brewery 33 and we’ll definitely be back the next time we visit Hocking Hills!
- Hooker Honey Lager- Honey Beer – 5.5%
- Gateway Gose – Sour – 4%
- Falls Mill – Milk Stout – 4.6%
- Westenhaver – West Coast IPA – 6.2%
- Pottery Pale Ale – Pale Ale – 5%
- John McBride – Brown Ale – 5.8%
- Mingo Mango Gose – Mango Sour – 3.3%
SUM UP: Hocking Hills is a very popular state park in Ohio. The Gorge Overlook Loop takes you past some of the park’s best features. The first section can get busy, so plan accordingly. Due to the elevation changes and some rock scrambles, this hike is rated moderately difficult. There’s plenty of parking at the trailhead, which is also the parking lot for the visitor’s center. Along this trail look out for incredible features like Old Man’s Cave, the Sphinx Head, Devil’s Bathtub, and Cedar Falls. After doing this loop, you definitely deserve a beer! And what better place than Brewery 33, Hocking Hill’s first and only brewery! Sit outside and relax, knowing you saw some of the best views in Ohio!