Conkle’s Hollow & Double Edge Brewing Company

Hocking Hills, OH

Happy Belated Mother’s Day! Today I’m happy to share a lovely hike that I got to do with my Mom in Hocking Hills! One of the best things about this area is that you can see some amazing sights on a relatively short hike! My family tackled the roughly 2.5 miles Rim Trail at Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve on a beautiful sunny morning. This is a great hike for the whole family and is a really good loop for non-hikers. There’s also a shorter gorge trail that’s wheelchair and stroller friendly so this really is a place for everyone. Let’s check it out!

THE HIKE: East and West Rim Loop – Conkles Hollow Nature Preserve

Length: 2.6 miles
Elevation Gain: 427ft
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 1.5-2 hours
Trail use: Hiking Only, NO PETS
Parking: Large parking lots. Vault Toilets
H&H: 5/5

Conkle’s Hollow is a small Nature Preserve located within Hocking Hills State Park. It is a rocky gorge that’s considered to be one of the deepest in Ohio! As you travel along the rim trail, you’ll be walking along cliff edges that raise 200ft up! The gorge itself is fairly narrow so you can even see hikers on the other side of the rim! This area is very unique because the towering cliffs mean that little to no sunlight reaches the bottom of the gorge. 

Family Hike!

A local legend of Conkle’s Hollow insists that robbers had hid their loot somewhere in the hollow but were never able to retrieve it due to a felled tree. Who knows if the tale is true, but if I needed a place to hide out, one of the caves in this area would definitely work for me!

When hiking at Conkle’s Hollow, try to arrive early if going on the weekend. Although there is a large parking lot (with vault toilets), it’s extremely popular so it will fill up! We arrived around 10am on a beautiful Saturday and easily found parking. However, we finished up, the lot was completely packed and people were parking along the street. 

Now I said that Conkle’s Hollow is great for non-hikers. However, I want to clarify that you need to be reasonably steady on your feet and able to climb steps to do this hike. The first bit of the trail follows some steep steps and then continues uphill for a bit so be prepared to get your heart pumping! Most of this trail does follow along a cliff edge so you’ll see plenty of warning signs. Make sure to stay away from the edge and be smart about your hiking! It’s only dangerous if you’re not respecting the trail. Plus, the trail is one-way so you don’t have to worry about stepping to the side to let other hikers pass. 

I honestly can’t say enough good things about this trail! Although it was only 2.5 miles, we spent hours here because we constantly had to stop and take in the beauty! There were so many incredible rock formations and small waterfalls. Plus we were nearing peak wildflower season so I always wanted to stop and look at every plant. Most of the crowds seem to only do the shorter gorge trail so we thankfully had a lot of the rim trail to ourselves. You can always add in the Gorge trail before or after your hike to get the full experience! 

My family had an awesome time on this hike! I would definitely do this again and I thought it was a perfect hike for people who want to experience Hocking Hills without doing a long, strenuous hike. If you’re looking for other short hikes in the area, check out Cantwell Cliffs (1 mile) or Rock House (0.8 mile).

THE BEER: Double Edge Brewing Company

Address: 158 W Chestnut St, Lancaster, OH 43130
Distance from Trail Head: 24 miles, 31 mins
Website: http://www.double-edge.beer/
Food?: BYOF/ Food Trucks
Details: Outdoor seating & dog friendly

Double Edge Brewing Company is located about 15 miles outside of the Hocking Hills area in the super cute town of Lancaster. It’s a bit of a drive from the trailhead but definitely worth it! The first thing that struck me about this little brewery was the community! People were all talking to each other, clearly making friends with neighbors at the next table. How lovely! 

Double Edge has been a staple of downtown Lancaster since 2017. Their taproom is pretty big with a nice relaxed vibe. There’s also plenty of outdoor seating if you’d rather soak up the sun! Their taproom offers a wide variety of house made beers as well as local wine and cider. Check their events for food trucks on the weekend and live music! 

My favorite beer of the day might surprise you. It was actually the Aunt Sally Key Lime Sour! I really love a good sour, especially after being outside all day. This one really hit the spot and I liked that it kept the ABV low. This is definitely a great beer for some afternoon drinking! Good beer and a good spot; we’ll definitely be back someday!

Our Beer:

  • Seven Seas – West Coast IPA – 6.1%
  • Moondog – Porter – 5.7%
  • Comet Session – Session IPA – 5.2%
  • Aunt Sally – Key Lime Pie Sour – 3.6%

SUM UP: Conkles Hollow is a beautiful nature preserve near Hocking Hills, Ohio. The 2.5 miles Rim trail is a great trek for all ages but has some elevation and steps that wouldn’t be good for very young or unsteady folks. It’s just challenging enough to feel proud of yourself at the end and rewards you with gorgeous views along the way. After your hike explore more of the Hocking Hills Region, like Rock House or Cantwell Cliffs. Finally, round out your day with a cold brew at Double Edge Brewing in Lancaster. You’ll be sure to make a new friend at this inviting neighborhood brewery!

Hocking Hills Gorge Loop & Brewery 33

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
Difficulty: Moderate
Time: 2.5-3.5 hours
Trail use: Hiking, leashed pets
Parking: large lot by visitor center
H&H: 5/5

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. 

Devil’s Bathtub

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!

Old Man’s Cave

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 
Website: http://www.brewery33.com/
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!

Our Beer:

  • 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!

Billy Goat Trail – Great Falls & 7 Locks Brewing

Potomac, MD

Have you ever heard of First Day Hikes? It’s an initiative to get people outdoors and enjoying state and national parks on the very first day of the year. J and I have been doing it for four years now! This year I wanted our first hike to be something special so we did the Billy Goat Trail in Great Falls National Park for the very first time! Guys I cannot believe it’s taken me so long to do this hike because I absolutely LOVED it. It definitely isn’t for the faint of heart but I felt so strong and alive while clambering over the rocks. Let’s check it out!

THE HIKE: Billy Goat A (Great Falls National Park)

Length: 5 miles
Elevation Gain: 174ft
Difficulty: Difficult
Time:  2.5 -3 hours
Trail use: Hiking Only (No Dogs)
Parking: Large parking lot at trailhead. $20 per vehicle or free with National Park Pass
H&H: 5/5

Great Falls is one of the most popular areas to visit in Maryland. It’s not very far from DC and there are trails on both the Virginia and Maryland sides. Technically Great Falls National Park is in Virginia and the Maryland side is part of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal National Historic Park. But the section we’re looking for starts at the Great Falls Tavern Visitor Center. This is a hugely popular area for hikers, bikers, and walkers since the trails branch off from the C&O Canal (a 184.5 river path connecting Harpers Ferry to Washington DC). If you go any time when the weather’s nice, expect full parking lots and busy trails.

The entrance fee to the park is $20 per vehicle which might seem steep but I highly encourage you to invest in the yearly NPS pass if you hike or travel a lot. It’s called the America the Beautiful pass ($85/year) and it gets one vehicle into all National Parks, Battlefields, Historic areas and more! Our pass quickly paid for itself after going to Harper’s Ferry, Shenandoah, and Catoctin. 

There are three sections of the Billy Goat Trail (A,B,C). Before heading out to hike, check to see which sections are open. When we went, section B was closed due to flood damage. Our loop took us from the Visitor Center along the canal to the Section A trailhead and then back along the canal after doing the hike. Combined with a couple offshoots to see the overlooks, this loop was about 5 miles. 

The Billy Goat section of the trail is difficult. Make sure to be prepared! Bring plenty of water, wear shoes with good grips, and have clothes that you don’t mind getting dirty. After leaving the C&O Canal, the trail is almost completely rock scrambles and even one daunting climb up a cliff face. It was super fun but we were definitely exhausted by the end! My best advice is to take your time. Let the speed demons pass you and don’t be afraid to slide down rocks on your bum. I did that a lot! Oh and make sure you take SO many pictures. This is some of the most beautiful landscape in Maryland, maybe even the whole country! 

THE BEER: 7 Locks Brewery

Address: 12227 Wilkins Ave, Rockville, MD 20852
Distance from Trail Head:  11 miles, 20 mins 
Website: http://www.7locksbrewing.com/
Food?: BYOF
H&H Rating: 5/5

7 Locks Brewery is located in a large warehouse space in the Rockville area. They have plenty of tables in addition to a large bar. We were there early in the afternoon so we nearly had the first to ourselves! 7 Locks opened in 2015 and has been making a name for themselves ever since! They pride themselves in making excellent beer (and have the awards to prove it!) as well as being a gathering place for the community. We’ve been here several times and the beer never disappoints! Honestly, this time around it’s hard to pick a favorite beer. As usual, we tried a variety of styles and they were all so good! I think my favorite has to be the Billy Goat Tr-Ale since it paired so perfectly with our hike! Also the Bitch Monkey with Cranberry was awesome. I’m such a sucker for something cranberry flavored. It’s just so wintery! 

Overall, I’m always very pleased with 7 Locks! It’s not easy to stand out in an area with several breweries to choose from but 7 Locks always manages to impress. Definitely Check them out next time you’re in the Rockville area! 

Our Beer:

  • Redland Lager – Red Lager – 6.3%
  • Bitch Monkey w/ Cranberry – Fruited Gose – 5.2%
  • Blockhouse Point Stout – Oatmeal Stout – 5.7% 
  • Billy Goat Tr-Ale – Session IPA – 4.5%

SUM UP: The Billy Goat trail is a famous (infamous?) trail along the C&O Canal in Potomac, MD that is very popular and is also difficult in some sections. It features incredible rocky landscapes with raging waterfalls and quiet river beaches. The hike itself requires rock scrambling and even scaling a short cliff wall. There is a $20 entrance fee and check trail openings before leaving. Only 20 minutes away is 7 Locks Brewing in Rockville. They have a huge space and offer a wide variety of delicious brews.