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What Do I Need To Know Before Going to Hocking Hills?

The Number 1 tip for Hocking Hills is to find a way to beat the traffic. Hocking Hills State Park is free to enter and with many metropolitan areas close by it can get busy. If you can, schedule your trip to enjoy the park during the week. Early mornings and evenings are best. On the weekends the parking lots fill up quickly and the trails will be busy. I know many of you don’t want to hear “go early” but these views are from Old Man’s Cave and you will see through this post that we enjoyed the park with very few people on the trails and we hiked Monday and Tuesday morning in June.


Continue reading for six more tips that will make you and your brood ready for adventure in Hocking Hills State Park and answer the question What do I need to know before going to Hocking Hills! Let’s Get Started! Wait, we already started. Click here to watch the video version or continue reading below...



What is the History of Hocking Hills?


Cantwell Cliffs keeps reminding me of the past. Hiking here takes you back in time. It is a more rustic trail, less improved, and the gorge surrounds you as you descend down Fat Woman’s Squeeze. Yep, this is actually called Fat Woman’s squeeze. It’s almost like an entrance into another world. Tip number 2 may be the most impactful, which is to recognize the history of Hocking Hills and the people who lived here before us. As you hike and explore, take time to recognize the native americans that lived here with remnants left in Ash Cave and Rock House. Following later early settlers arrived with the timber, coal, iron ore, and flint industries. There was a grist mill at Cedar Falls. A hunter/trapper lived in Old Man’s Cave with his dogs. Development occurred and to help bring us out of the depression President Roosevelt created the civilian conservation corps which developed Hocking Hills State Park to make it more accessible and enjoyable to all. These are great immersive history lessons for you and your brood while hiking Hocking Hills. To learn more read this post 10 Facts of Hocking Hills



We’re already up to number 3 and later we’ll let you know when the park is open.


What Is The Most Popular Hike In Hocking Hills?


If you are looking for the most popular trail in Hocking Hills the hike to Old Man’s Cave is number 1. Tip number 3 is to research the best hikes in Hocking Hills for you and your brood. Here we will use views from Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve as it might be our favorite. Old Man's Cave can be extended by hiking to Lower Falls for a little more adventure. If you have more time and ability you can hike longer to Whispering Cave all from the Visitor’s center parking lot. These next three are the easiest hikes in Hocking Hills. Ash Cave is a great hike to the largest recess cave in the Eastern United States. Cedar Falls will take you to the most reliable waterfall in Hocking Hills State Park. The Rock House hike is the only adventure where you’ll discover a real cave. Cantwell Cliffs is by many accounts the most difficult hike in Hocking Hills and showcases the efforts of the Civilian Conservation Corps. Finally, Conkle’s Hollow may be the most beautiful with the simple Gorge Trail and the tougher Rim Trail worth the effort. We have more detailed guides for each hike. you can read them here:


Old Man's Cave Ash Cave Cedar Falls

Rock House Cantwell Cliffs Conkle's Hollow




Let’s leave the state park for a minute to share tip number 4 before we come back and let you know where the bathrooms are.


What Else is There to Do in Hocking Hills?


When in Hocking Hills you should go on a zip line tour. We went to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours and had a blast. We spent an afternoon zip lining through the trees above the Hocking River. This experience can be catered to your family. Our brood completed the original canopy tour. The tour included more than 10 zip lines of increasing length to let you ease into the experience. Hocking Hills Canopy Tours has been open since 2007 and from our eyes provided a completely safe, entertaining adventure. We started the tour with a light training. Then the first zip line was simple, low to the ground and short. As we proceeded to zip line the cables became higher and longer. As you are zip lining make sure to look for deer, birds, river wildlife and more. In our group we had people 10 to 70 years old. Here is a link to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours




Now back to the hikes with views from Ash Cave and Tip number 5 will answer the question:



Are There Bathrooms In Hocking Hills?


Every Hike trailhead has bathrooms, some are better than others. The Visitor’s center at Old Man’s Cave has the best bathrooms. Cedar Falls has a modern bathroom at the smaller trailhead parking lot. Ash Cave has pit toilets just after the trailhead and better bathrooms at the large parking lot. Cantwell Cliffs and Rock House have pit toilets and Conkle’s Hollow has bathroom buildings that were under repair so porta johns were on site for everyone’s use.




Our next tip will discuss what gear to take into Hocking Hills while viewing Rock House Trail and for number 7 we will head back to Old Man’s Cave.


What Gear Do I Need To Hike Hocking Hills?


When you are planning your trip to Hocking Hills it is important to take the right gear. Even though the hikes are short some are more technical than others. You might also want to stack hikes into one or two days to make the most of your time. With that in mind here is our gear list for you to consider. Most important is to take plenty of water with you. We carried water bottles and refilled them at the Visitor’s Center. Number two is a first aid kit. Slips and trips and stumbles can happen on the easiest of hikes and a band aid or ice pack can be the thing that will keep your brood hiking. But have the first aid kit for more serious emergencies. Next up consider your shoes. The better your shoes the more fun and longer you can hike. I like Merrell Moab IIs and similar for all the hiking we have done. Trekking Poles are great and add stability on the trail. Trekking poles also make a great gift for your little hikers and also gives them something special to enjoy when hiking. Not common in most packing lists is a rescue rope. If you are on a rim trail and someone slips off the best way to help them might just be a rope. Rapid fire we would also include a good, comfortable backpack with compass, maps, snacks like trail mix, granola bars, protein bars and a sweet treat like gummy worms for motivation.


Here is some gear we used during our time in Hocking Hills












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While we talk about tip number 7 enjoy more views from Hocking Hills


What are the Rules In Hocking Hills?


Watch them all as one rule that wasn’t followed caused death in Hocking Hills. All right, here are 6 questions most people ask about park rules in Hocking Hills.


Are the Hocking Hills Trails One-way or Two-way?


During 2020, the Park changed most trails to one-way and they are still one-way trails at the time of this post. People in wheelchairs can use the path in Conkle’s Hollow and Ash Cave as a two-way trail. One way trails is a great rule and made the hikes more enjoyable. As you can see here the trails are wide for a one-way trail but as these get busy… Did you notice all the people at Ash Cave? which we showed previously, having one direction for trails is a great idea.


Is Hocking Hills State Park Dog Friendly?


The second rule is that dogs are allowed almost everywhere in Hocking Hills State Park. The only place they are not allowed is at Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve. For more about dogs including additional rules and the best hikes for you and your pets read this post: Are Dogs Allowed in Hocking Hills




Can You Swim in Hocking Hills State Park?


There is no swimming or wading in Hocking Hills State Park. The rule is in place to protect the aquatic life throughout the park, to limit destruction of the park, and to reduce injury to visitors. But swimming under the waterfalls is especially dangerous as logs and other debris can fall as well as the water. Did you notice people violating this rule earlier when we showed you scenes at Cedar Falls? Many people ignore the rule but please give the fish and turtles a break and stay out of the water.


Let’s pause with the rules because every one of our posts needs a dad joke: Why did the teacher jump in the water? Because, she had to Test it! Let’s continue with our list.


When is Hocking Hills Open?


This one is easy. Hocking Hills State Park is open year round from Dawn to Dusk. Cars need to be out of the parking lots by dark.



Why Can’t We Throw Rocks Over the Cliffs in Hocking Hills?


Don’t not throw, drop , or push anything over the cliffs or ledges. People have died from getting hit by objects being thrown off cliffs. The park is so forested that when hiking the rim trails you will not be able to see people beneath you in the gorge.



How Can Visitors Care For Hocking Hills State Park?


Follow Leave no Trace guidelines. Carry out what you carry in and use the garbage cans available in each parking lot to dispose of waste. Enjoy wildlife at a safe distance for you and the animal. Stay on the designated trails. Only take pictures and video from the park. Respect and be courteous to other visitors of Hocking Hills State Park.


What Do I Need To Know Before Going to Hocking Hills?


Hocing Hills is one of the best state parks in the country. With its black hand sandstone, waterfalls, lush forests and rish history there is no doubt in our mind this is a Top 10. The most important thing to know before going to Hocking Hills are details about the hikes you can take. These are the six most popular and important hike in Hocking Hills. Click on each one to learn all about them


Old Man's Cave Ash Cave Cedar Falls

Rock House Cantwell Cliffs Conkle's Hollow


Each hike is different and take different skill levels and provide unique experiences.







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