The Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio is regarded as the second largest outdoor tourist attraction in the Midwest. Each year millions of visitors from around the world travel to the rural counties which comprise the state park area to enjoy a myriad of outdoor pursuits, historical events, and cultural gatherings.
Hocking Hills State Park is comprised of six separate and distinct regions situated on about 2,000 acres of state park land. The park’s unique areas include Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Conkle’s Hollow. The nearby Zaleski State Forest and Wayne National Forest are also popular spots for outdoor recreational activities for visitors and locals alike.
The caves area has been used for family gatherings and recreation since the 1860s. But poor road conditions during that era allowed the Hocking Hills region to remain primarily a local secret, according to the Hocking Hills website. By the early 1900s, the pristine forest was becoming a target of the massive lumber mill operations in the region. When the state forest law was passed in 1915, Ohio legislature began preparations to purchase the area.
The Old Man’s Cave parcel was purchased in 1924, followed by more acreage purchases into the 1920s. During the Great Depression in the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration (WPA) installed a trail system, bridges, roads, and tunnels into the Hocking Hills State Par. Many of those projects remain visible at the park today.
Visitors come to the Hocking Hills to first and foremost, go hiking. But, the area has a lot more in store for avid outdoors fans, vacationing families, and traveling senior citizens. The region has also become a popular destination wedding location and offers a plethora of outdoor wedding and spa related services.
Top 15 Things To Do In The Hocking Hills
- Hocking Hills Canoe Livery — Visitors can paddle along the same waterway once used by both the Native Americans and early settlers of the Hocking Hills region. The facility offers a series of different excursions, including a moonlight river tour.
- Hocking Valley Scenic Railway — Take a train ride through history while visiting the Hocking Hills. The railway makes a stop at the Robbins Crossing pioneer village on the Hocking College Campus. Special event train rides, such as the Christmas, Easter, wine tasting tour, and the Great Train Robbery encounter, are scheduled on a seasonal basis.
- Lake Logan State Park — Go swimming, fishing, or just spend the day building sandcastles at the lake. The park does not allow pets. A short handicap accessible hiking trail offers views of both the water and surrounding hills. Fish known to live in the lake include crappie, northern pike, bass, saugeye, bluegill, and catfish.
- Spotted Horse Ranch, Equestrian Ridge Farm, Uncle Buck’s Riding Stable — Go on a trail ride through the Hocking Hills or Zaleski State Forest with a trained guide. Multiple primitive equine camping spots are also available for visitors with their own horses who want to take designated trails and go riding on their own. Uncle Buck’s is also a saloon which offers live music and special events throughout the year.
- TECUMSEH Outdoor Drama — Make a side trip to the Sugarloaf Mountain amphitheater and travel back in time to an era before the pioneers settled the Buckeye State. Visitors can enjoy a buffet meal before the live drama begins, and sign up for a tour to meet the actors and learn how they pull off all the stunts and special effects used in the show.
- Adventure Golf at Rempel’s Grove — The mini golf course also offers a free petting zoo, snack bar, and is located next to the antique marketplace and multiple dining areas.
- Spirits of the Hills Gallery — The gallery features a series of fine arts displays, architectural items, handmade furniture, wood sculptures, and offerings by local artisans.
- Hocking Hills Canopy Tours — Soar far above the ground on the zipline adventure course. Visitors get a bird’s eye views of cave formations and the rock cliffs.
- Hocking Hills Winery — Take a tour of the award-winning winery and then sample its offerings in the tasting room.
- Earth Touch Workshops — The retreat workshops are for women only. The ladies are offered the opportunity to engage in a series of both indoor and outdoor activities while learning about Native American teachings.
- R Adventure Park — Rent an ATV after taking a brief training session with a guide and then spend the day exploring the many acres the facility encompasses.
- Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours — Take in the full beauty of the Hocking Hills during an air tour. If you visit when the trees are not too thick, you might just catch a glimpse of the waterfalls flowing onto the rock cliffs below.
- Ohio Belly Boat Fishing — Guided belly-boat tours are offered in the Hocking Hills year around. Rose Lake is a favorite fishing spot for local anglers, and one of the boating excursions offered by the guides.
- Hocking Hills Moonshine — Visitors can tour the distillery, watch the moonshine-making process from start to finish, and listen to a history lesson about the moonshine running era in Ohio.
- Hocking Hills Candle Works — Visitors get the opportunity to mix and match the many fragrances available at the shop and make their own uniquely personalized scented soy candle.
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