Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH: Old Man's Cave (Upper & Lower Falls, Devil's Bathtub) via Gorge Overlook Trail from Campground


Just an hour south of Columbus, Ohio, is some seriously gorgeous scenery. I probably would not have believed you if you told me these photos came from Ohio. The pictures do not do Hocking Hills State Park any justice.

We spent the weekend at Hocking Hills with some of Eric's family on the last weekend of June (24-26). We camped there and stayed at a campsite near a trailhead to Old Man's Cave. The trailhead is at the end of the road with campsites 81-93 (see map here).

Both evenings (Friday and Saturday) we decided to hike down to Old Man's Cave. This post is a mix of photos from both hikes. Friday's hike started about 8pm and Saturday's about 7:15pm. Our timing was amazing - we encountered very few other people on the trails (despite the campgrounds being at capacity - we literally got the last campsite available for this weekend) and the lighting was beautiful.

We found the signs to be a little confusing. This sign really means that the Gorge Overlook Trail starts in a quarter mile. That trail will then lead you to the trail to Old Man's Cave.



The path to the Gorge Overlook Trail slopes downward for that whole quarter mile (the first night we met a few people at the entrance to the trailhead huffing and puffing, but neither Eric nor I - nor the two 8-year-olds we were with - had any trouble). The path empties out onto the Gorge Overlook Trail, although there won't be anything to tell you that. You want to turn right in order to get to the Old Man's Cave trail. Again, nothing will tell you that; there are no signs here. We always take a picture of trail maps (above photo) on one of our phones so we can easily reference it (and zoom quickly). In the photo above, the long red line is the Gorge Overlook Trail. Follow that line down until you see the blue line shooting out to the right at the bottom of the picture - this is where you just walked.

Note: when you are trying to find this pathway leading you back to the campgrounds later, remember that there will not be any signs. (There is a tiny rock post at the base of the path, but who can see that in the evening dusk?) You shouldn't go more than about .2 miles from where you turned to go to Old Man's Cave (the bridge, which you'll see in a minute). Then the pathway should appear on your left. We have FitBits that we use while hiking to help track mileage and they came in handy here.



The Gorge Overlook Trail is pretty in the summer light but is a little too leafy right now to see much. It is probably nicer in the other seasons for a better view (anyone who has been here then should chime in and verify this).


In a short time (.2 miles from when you turned right) you should come upon a cool-looking bridge to your left. Crossing the bridge will take you toward the Visitor's Center at Old Man's Cave and the start of what we think is the traditional way to hike the trail. Not crossing the bridge and continuing left will take you further down the Gorge Overlook Trail.

Cross the bridge and make sure to look below on either side to see the aerial views of a couple of neat bridges below.




Head down some stone steps (be careful, they are crumbly and slick) to your left and be rewarded with a very neat view of a cave overhang.



About this point I was already thinking about how cool this state park was. (I thought this several times over the course of the weekend.)








I don't know if these falls have a name (but we are pretty sure they are not the Lower Falls -- those are later in the hike). It had rained earlier in the week in this area of Ohio so we thought the falls might be a little bigger, but this turned out to be pretty typical of what we saw.


The bridges were all very cool.


Take the stairs down to cross the bridge.

 








This is the sign that led me to believe the waterfall above is not the Lower Falls. On Friday night we did venture to the right for a little ways before turning around due to dusk falling. Eric was able to see some of what we think are the Lower Falls (photos a little farther below).


If you turn right you'll see this plaque (the next photo down is the view it talks about):





And if you keep going a little ways farther you'll come to what we think are the Lower Falls. Eric took these two photos. The trail at this point takes you up an enormous staircase and we didn't have time to continue on to get a better look at these falls.





On the first night, we turned back around here and headed to the campground. If you look up you'll see the neat bridge you took earlier.


To get back up there, you can either go back the way you came (through Old Man's Cave) or go a little farther up following the Upper Falls trail. You'll come to a very cool stone bridge. (Make sure to check this out aerially from the bridge above.)


There will be another staircase on your left pretty soon after this; take it and follow a mostly-dried-up waterfall up to the top.


Taking that bridge will exit you very close to the Visitor's Center.



But if you keep going (it'll add about a mile to your hike to get back to the campground), instead of taking that staircase by the dried-up waterfall, you will climb some other moss-covered stairs and soon come to the Devil's Bathtub.







The Devil's Bathtub is one of the coolest geologic features we saw at the park. (PS. There are lots of slippery and slightly dangerous areas on the trails in this park in general, but especially at this location, make sure to keep an eye on wandering kids and your own footing.)

Not too much farther is another beautiful site, the Upper Falls. This is supposedly one of the most beautiful waterfalls in all of Ohio. (Again, the waterflow wasn't strong thanks to it being summer, but it was still really pretty.)




There will be another staircase leading up off to the left of where you came in to the Upper Falls area (it's not immediately apparent) that will take you back to the Gorge Overlook Trail (you should turn right onto the wide trail...in about .3 mile you will see the wooden bridge you walked across earlier). Enjoy the sunlight streaming through the trees as you walk back to the campground (don't miss your turn onto the pathway!) and be satisfied that you saw the most popular trail in Ohio's most popular state park, in the middle of summer travel season, with virtually no other people on the trails.


Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH: Old Man's Cave (Upper & Lower Falls, Devil's Bathtub) via Gorge Overlook Trail from Campground Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, OH: Old Man's Cave (Upper & Lower Falls, Devil's Bathtub) via Gorge Overlook Trail from Campground Reviewed by Maria on 10:00:00 AM Rating: 5

2 comments:

  1. I think the Lower Falls is the one I climbed out to and fell near. I'll send you the phone pictures.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I think you are right! Thanks for the pictures. The post has been updated.

      Delete

© Maria Schwartzman. Powered by Blogger.