Hocking Hills: Natural and historical wonders in Southeastern Ohio

Southeastern Ohio’s Hocking Hills region is a natural wonder waiting to be explored.

While national parks tend to get a lot of traffic, this hidden gem offers a quiet respite from city life. Even on the busiest weekends, you can park your car and take a short walk through lush forest to soothing waterfalls.

In the spring, activities like rappelling, rock climbing and zip lining are made even more exhilarating when nature puts on a stunning display of wildflowers. Hocking Hills is also home to the country’s last operating washboard factory.

Whether you like relaxing by the fireplace or getting your thrills outdoors, Hocking Hills has it all.

Fly like a superhero

Choose from various outdoor adventures suited for the entire family with Hocking Hills Canopy Tours (hockinghillscanopytours.com). Fly like a superhero on its Superzip, or cruise above rolling hills into a recess cave and across the scenic Hocking River on the X-Tour. If you’re feeling adventurous, try the nighttime Moonshine Tour, where your heightened senses provide a more thrilling experience.

Rappel your fears away

Descending a 75-foot cliff may sound daunting, but you’re in good hands (and sturdy ropes!) with High Rock Adventures (highrockadventures.com). The company opens up private Hocking Hills properties to the public, offering the chance to rappel off flat walls, canyons, overhangs and rock cracks from 35 to 100 feet high. Or stay on the ground for guided nature hikes through Hocking Hills State Parks and Nature Preserves that touch on the geology and history of the region.

Follow in Grandma Gatewood’s footsteps

To see some of Hocking Hills State Park’s most popular attractions, trace the path of local legend Emma Rowena Gatewood, aka Grandma Gatewood, an Ohio native and hiking pioneer who first trekked the trails in 1955 at the age of 67. The 6-mile Gatewood Trail is part of the Buckeye Trail in Hocking Hills State Park and connects Ash Cave to Old Man’s Cave. The former is the state’s largest recess cave and draws visitors for its 90-foot waterfall. At Old Man’s Cave, admire the streams spilling into aqua-green pools. Along the way, you’ll also pass through Cedar Falls, a lush wilderness of hemlock trees.

Explore an American relic

Tour the country’s last remaining washboard factory at Columbus Washboard Company (admission $5/adults, $4/seniors, $3/up to 18; 14 Gallagher Ave., Logan, Ohio, 740-380-3828, columbuswashboard.com). Before washing machines, these boards were ubiquitous in households; today, they are still popular among travelers for on-the-go spills, as well as used as musical instruments. At the annual Washboard Music Festival in Logan, Ohio, over Father’s Day weekend (this year June 14-16; washboardmusicfestival.com), you can hear bluegrass, jazz, Cajun zydeco and more live music that incorporates the tapping rhythms on washboard.


Getting there: Take a nearly two-hour flight from New York to Columbus. From there, Hocking Hills is about an hour drive.

Getting around: The roads in the wilderness region of Hocking Hills are windy and your GPS signal can be lost. Be sure to pick up a map at the visitor’s center.

Where to stay: A short distance from the iconic Cedar Falls is the charming Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls (21190 State Route 374, Logan, Ohio, 740-385-7489, innatcedarfalls.com), which has been hosting visitors for decades. The inn has rooms, cottages and fully furnished yurts with fireplaces and modern amenities.

Where to eat: The on-site restaurant at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls is spread across two log cabins with seasonal fine dining. If you arrive early, grab a cold beer or a hot cocoa and chill by the fireplace. Millstone Southern Smoked BBQ (12790 Grey St., Logan, 740-385-5341, millstonebbq.com), near the state park, is famous for its mouthwatering BBQ, smoked on-site daily for at least 15 hours.