What is the Most Popular Hike in Hocking Hills? - Old Man’s Cave
Did you know Old Man’s Cave is the most popular hike in the Hocking Hills region which sees about 5 million people annually? There are many trails around Old Man’s Cave. Continue watching to not get lost in the crowd. Let’s Get Started! You can watch this video or continue with the blog below!
The 1 mile hike to Old Man’s Cave is popular for a reason. From the beginning the trail amazes hikers and it only gets better after that. Upper Falls is the first waypoint which reveals a wonderful surprise. The bridge you were just on is actually above the upper falls and this is one of the more photographed spots in Hocking Hills. The bridge above the falls and the pool below surrounded by black hand sandstone make it a unique feature of Hocking Hills. But that’s just the beginning. As we continue, notice the hike is through walls of black hand sandstone flanking the trail and Old Man’s Creek.
But there’s more. The hike takes you over the river on a wood bridge with green handrail, a newer addition, to the next stop Devil’s Bathtub. It’s a cool water feature made better by its memorable name. Part of the treasure of Old Man’s Cave Trail is walking through steps and trail features constructed by the Civilian Conservation Corps in the 1930s like these. But, other improvements have been made like this cool new step bridge to resemble skipping stones. And then this tunnel takes you back to the past leading you to a bridge and finally Old Man’s Cave. But there’s more as just a short walk away is Lower Falls.
Now that you know why you want to hike to Old Man’s Cave let’s get into details.
Where is Old Man’s Cave?
Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park is located off Ohio Highway 664 about 20 minutes from Logan Ohio and a little over an hour from downtown Columbus. The trailhead is at the same parking lot as the main Hocking Hills Visitor’s center. The parking lot has over 350 parking spots for cars but trailers and RV’s are not accommodated in Hocking Hills State Park unless you have a Class B van or similar or leave them in the campground. Conveniently located just east of the parking lot is the Hocking Hills State Park Campground. But if that is full, check out our post on Campbell Cove Full Hookup Campground and RV Resort in Logan Ohio. The Old Man’s Cave Trailhead is located off the Southeast corner of the lot. Now that we know where it is you are probably wondering
Why is it Called Old Man’s Cave?
Old Man’s Cave got it’s name because an old man lived here. Richard Rowe, a hermit, lived in the recess cave during the early 1800s. Some websites have a different name for the resident. A marker in the recess cave provides additional details that he discovered the area with his two hound dogs while he was hunting. He loved the area so much he and his hounds spent the remainder of their lives here living in the cave and surrounding area.
We’re always excited to hear from you. Why are you looking forward to Hocking Hills State Park?
Let’s talk more about the trail next and coming up later we’ll discuss what you should pack for your hike to Old Man’s Cave. As we are hiking you’ll notice most of the video is green with black hand sandstone. The forests in Hocking Hills are Awesome.
What Types of Plants and Trees can be Found in Hocking Hills?
Hemlock is the most popular tree that is discussed when talking about Hocking Hills. Other trees in the region include Beech, Oak, Sycamore, Tulip, White Pine and Maple. These trees provide an amazing canopy that lets just the right amount of sunlight and rain in to keep the forest floor alive and vibrant. The dimensions created by the forest will become more visible if you stop and look into the forest, then look deeper and higher. The depth builds as you patiently let your eyes adjust. The forest floor is carpeted with ferns, and wildflowers. You may discover Dutchman’s Breeches, Wild Geranium, and Trillium to name a few flowers. Mosses and Lichens grow on the sandstone, trees, and forest floor adding to the depth of color and texture.
How Long is the Hike to Old Man’s Cave?
Old Man’s Cave is kind of a choose your own adventure. There is a quick route. This would be the short loop that is 1.0 mile. Did you know this trail, which is actually called Grandma Gatewood Trail, is also part of the larger Buckeye trail which travels around Ohio from Lake Erie to Cincinatti? The hike will allow you to see the Upper Falls, Devil’s Bathtub and Old Man’s Cave. The 1 mile loop will take you about 30 minutes to an hour. But, If you would like to travel a little further like we did, add another ½ mile to see the Sphinx Head and Lower Falls before returning to the parking lot. Adding this distance would provide for a full hike time of an hour to 90 minutes. Old Man’s Cave has a lot to discover and explore. The time will also depend on how many people are on the trail. With traffic the hike time will take longer. Now that we know how long the trail is
How Hard is the Hike at Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills?
Hiking the trails at Old Man’s Cave are not easy. But, most people can make the hike. The biggest test would be your ability to handle stairs. Like most of the popular trails in Hocking Hills the steps are many and you need to go uphill and downhill. These steps are better than Cantrell Cliffs but are more difficult than navigating stairs in your house. The inclines, declines, rocks and roots also add to the complexity of this hike. Also note that most trails in Hocking Hills like this one are one way. So, make sure you are comfortable with walking 1.5 - 2 miles so you know you will have enough energy to make it through this hike. If you checked the box on you and your brood’s ability to navigate stairs and walk 2 miles you should be good. So, now that you know that your people are good
Are Dogs Allowed at Old Man’s Cave?
Dog’s are allowed and welcomed at Old Man’s Cave trail. We enjoyed taking our dogs to Old Man’s Cave. The steps are maintained well for them and due to the reasonable 1.5 mile loop our labs handled the trail well. Due to the popularity of the trail only well behaved dogs on a six foot leash are allowed. Also, make sure to carry your pet’s waste off the trail and back to a garbage can at the parking lot. In another post that focuses on the hike to Whispering Cave we’ll share why only the most capable dogs should extend past Old Man’s Cave and hike that far in Hocking Hills.
You already know the answer to this question but maybe not how many.
Does Old Man’s Cave Have a Waterfall?
As we showed earlier, the hike to Old Man’s Cave Trail has at least two waterfalls. The Upper Falls close to the trailhead is only 20 feet tall. It generally flows all year but the flow is directly related to rain storms. If you want to see the fall with a lot of volume make sure to visit after rains have started to see the best experience. But did you consider earlier that Devil’s Bathtub is a waterfall? As the creek flows over the sandstone it falls into the geologic bathtub and swirls before falling again and continuing downstream. Look closely at Old Man’s Cave, too. Under the recess cave is a waterfall over the sandstone. Lower Falls is next. At about 25 feet tall the water falls further than Upper Falls and again cascades down the sandstone into a beautiful pool surrounded by green vegetation blanketed over and above the black hand sandstone. But if you want one more Broken Rock Falls is located on a short spur off of Old Man’s Cave Trail. Let’s get back to logistics and more details.
Are There Bathrooms at Old Man’s Cave?
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources built the Visitor’s Center at Old Man’s Cave Trail in 2019. It is located on the Southwest side of the parking lot. This is the central hub of Hocking Hills State Park. Here you will find modern bathrooms, a gift shop, information center, and interpretive center to learn more about the park, it’s history, geology and how to stay safe hiking in the region. Never throw anything over the rim. At the trailhead there is a sign that says caution cliffs, stay on posted trails, and more importantly throwing objects over the cliff is prohibited. A photographer died when kids threw a log off the cliff edge above her.
There is a lot of water on this trail so you might wonder.
Can I get in the water at Old Man’s Cave? But more importantly Can you swim in the Devil's Bathtub at Hocking Hills?
Devil’s Bathtub is just one of the water features near Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills Ohio. Old Man’s Cave trail has a few pools of water, the creek, and waterfalls. Stepping into the water and swimming are prohibited in Hocking Hills State Park and Old Man’s Cave. And No, you can’t swim or take a bath in Devil’s bathtub at Hocking Hills. The main reason is to protect the fish and other aquatic species. This also provides a better view of the waterfalls and surrounding area when the trail is busy. Second objects in the water can be slippery and for the safety of hikers wading into the water is prohibited. The sandstone can be especially slippery.
Every Good Hike Needs a Dad Joke?
Every good hike needs a dad joke. What kind of jacket do you wear on a hike? A trail blazer!
Dad joke books make great gifts. Here are two we like. Dad jokes around the campfire and 600 Funniest Dad Jokes . To view any product mentioned by us in our blog posts, click this link: https://www.amazon.com/shop/campbrood As an Amazon Associate we earn commission from qualifying purchases through these links and Amazon ads and banners on this page, at no additional cost to you.
So What Exactly is Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills?
There are not a lot of details on Old Man’s Cave. Every conversation talks generally about the trail and not the cave itself. The recess cave is part of a 75 foot wall of black hand sandstone above Old Man’s Creek. The recess is about 250 feet long and 50 feet high. Down at the Creek Level there is a waterfall as the creek takes a step lower below the cave. The creek then flows beyond a man made stone wall. The Old Man is said to be buried here along with possibly two brothers who lived here previously. These recess caves throughout the region have been used as shelters. The protection Old Man’s Cave offers from the wind, rain, and snow would have been a great alternative to building a house or cabin in the woods. Also, having access to fresh, clean water all year makes this a great place to call home in the early 1800s.
So, to Hike Safely, What Should you take with you to Hike to Old Man’s Cave?
First make sure you have good comfortable shoes that provide you with solid footing. Take a comfortable hiking day pack to carry what you want to bring with you so that your hands and arms are free and your body is balanced. We like using the Teton Sports Hydration backpack for day hikes. Instead of filling the water bladder make sure you carry a full bottle of water. There is a bottle fill at the visitor’s center if you need one. Next priority is a first aid kit. The first aid kit is reason enough to take a backpack. We actually carry two first aid kits with our brood as we feel it is super important to have one on every hike. Stumbles and trips happen on the easiest hikes and a band-aid or ice pack could mean the difference between a bad experience and a great hike. We were happy to have trekking poles for the added stability. Also, I think my brood just enjoys having them. There are maps on the trail but it is nice to bring your own which you can get at the visitor’s center or on-line. We’ll put a link in our description with maps. Share with your brood a compass so kids can get familiar with how to use them and it’s a good way to reduce boredom on the trail. You never know when you are going to get hungry so always pack granola bars, and other snacks. We also like to motivate our brood with gummy worms or similar to give them something to look forward to on hikes.
What is the Most Popular Hike in Hocking Hills?
The top 5 hikes in hocking hills are Old Man’s Cave, Cedar falls, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rock House. The most popular hike is by far Old Man’s Cave. Logistically Old Man’s Cave has the largest parking lot. The trail is also supported by the new visitor’s Center. The focus at Hocking Hills is definitely Old Man’s Cave and the surrounding area. The rest of the hikes are fighting for second place. To learn more about these hikes and decide for yourself read the posts below!