What Is the Only True Cave in Hocking Hills - Rock House
Come with us to find out whether the reasons to explore Rock House in Hocking Hills is a waste of time and learn the things you need to know before going any further. Let’s Get Started!
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In order to help you make your decision to hike Rock House we’ll save our opinion until later but right now let’s discuss the location of Rock House and reasons this trail is a popular hike in Hocking Hills. Coming up we will answer the question: What is Rock House in Hocking Hills?
Rock House is located in the Northwest corner of Hocking Hills State Park in Southeast Ohio off of 374 just north of Thompson Ridge Road. There are two parking lots available. A larger lot with over 60 spaces is located by the pavilion that used to be the site of the Rock House Hotel which we will discuss later but at the trailhead there is a smaller lot where we parked. Hocking Hills is actually a State Park of many places. The park is not just one piece of land but many and each place is still located in the Hocking Hills Region of Ohio as you can see on the map. But all the features of Hocking Hills are within about 15 minutes of each other. Maps from Google Maps.
What is the Story of the Rock House? Rock House is rich in history and has been used by many over the years.
What is the History of the Rockhouse?
Rock House has features left by native americans. Shaped in the cave walls are ovens used for baking food and also maybe for medicinal purposes and in the floor of Rock House are holding pits for fresh water. The native americans are said to have used the ovens or stills to bake the sap out of pine wood to create turpentine. Did you know turpentine was used by many for medicinal purposes up until the 1960s? Turpentine was actually invented in the Southeast United States. Research has its roots in Florida, Virginia, and the Carolinas. It’s amazing that a former medicine is now almost only used as an oil-based paint thinner. Also carved out of the sandstone, the handmade cavities in the floor filled with fresh water when rains caused water to flow through the cave providing residents with a store of fresh water. We’ll let you know later the one thing you will need in your pack to have the best chance to spot the ovens and water storage pits in Rock House.
We’ll get back to the history in a minute, let’s talk about the hike details next.
How Long is Rock House Gorge Trail in Hocking Hills?
The hike begins at the trailhead parking lot. Rock House Trail is a 0.8 mile loop with 200 feet of elevation gain. Like most trails in the Hocking Hills region the elevation change requires about 200 stair steps. But the trail is wide and inviting. The loop returns you to the larger parking lot and the shelter which was the location of the Rock House Hotel. Toilets are located at the beginning and end of the gorge trail near the two parking lots. We hiked early during a low traffic weekday and took the rim trail back to the gorge trail and returned to the trailhead parking via that route. But as the trail is one-way this isn’t recommended during busy times. Located at waypoints on the trail are maps. The Ohio Department of Natural Resources has done a good job of providing these map stations throughout the park system. We especially like the letters and lettered waypoints on the maps. It is great way for you to figure out where you are and where you need to go. And it’s also good for those that didn’t get a paper map.
Are Dogs Allowed on Rock House Trail?
You’ve seen a lot of the trail and some of you may be questioning: are Dogs allowed on Rock House Trail? Ohio State Parks allow dogs on Rock House Trail. But we would only recommend the trail for active dogs. For example, the only dog we did see on the trail was a Belgian Malniois and we did not bring our labs. These dogs are great. But the owner left a pile of fresh poop on the trail for every hiker that passed after him. When you are hiking, carry your waste and your pets waste out of the park or into a park supplied garbage can.
What Is the Only True Cave in Hocking Hills in Logan Ohio?
Rock House is a 25 feet high x 200 feet long cave of black hand sandstone. The Rock House has also been called Robber’s Roost as it has been a hideout for robbers, thieves, and murderers. The cave provides lookouts through windows and is suspended above the gorge and below the rim on the cliff wall. Rock House is generally hidden from above. The rock has been carved by erosion via water running through it over centuries. Water continues to run when there is rain. While walking up to Rock House be quiet and listen. We heard a scary sound coming out of the cave that we couldn’t identify. As we inspected closer we found doves, residents of the cave, making their bird noises and the sound echoed through Rock House and out into the gorge. If you have a fear of birds, beware. Don’t feed them but they are friendly and generally keep their distance. As you explore the cave look for the features native americans left for us to discover. Also notice all of the inscriptions carved in the sandstone. Most of these are from guests of the Rock House Hotel we’ll discuss in a minute. As you move to the end of Rock House you will notice a man made wall of stone. So, to answer the question What is the Only True Cave in Hocking Hills? Well the answer is definitely Rock House.
Are you someone who carves their name or do you wish people would leave no trace in our parks? We’d love to hear your comments.
The Rock House needs an Appropriate Dad Joke
There is more history to Rock House which we will share at the end of the post but first every good hike needs a dad joke: Where is Dwayne Johnson’s favorite place to hangout in Hocking Hills? The Rock House. Did you guess it?
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Here is a link to the hocking hills website for updates on Rock House
What Gear Should you Take to Rock House
We always like to share what gear to take with you and what to pack. We’ll do that now and later discuss what caused the hotel to go out of business..
As this is a short hike we recommend closed toed shoes. Trekking poles would be helpful if you need the extra support like we used. We hiked a few hikes in Hocking Hills each day so we carried a hiking day pack with a first aid kit and snacks. Don’t forget a treat to motivate you on the trail like gummy worms. With the rocks and roots and steps a first aid kit could be needed to clean up scrapes and cuts from a trip or stumble. Drink water before or after your hike or take water with you. Most important to enjoy your time in Rock House is to bring a flashlight like this one. But only use it half the time. Enjoy the cave in the dark and also with light. Our phone lights worked barely enough so that we wouldn’t trip on the ever changing floor terrain. The stone seems to absorb the light. Here are amazon links to the gear we used on this hike.
What is the History of the Rock House Hocking Hills?
To further answer the question What is the Rock House at Hocking Hills you need to know the history of the cave. Rock House, as we mentioned, has been used by many. Our research found that a farmer may have used it for storing grain and as a livestock shelter. But, later the Rock House Hotel was built. In the 1830s Levi Friend constructed a hotel. The site of the hotel is the same location as the current picnic shelter. The hotel had 16 rooms, a ballroom, post office, and stable. The hotel was sold to Colonel Rempel in the late 1870s and housed travelers for decades. Pictures of the Rock House Hotel show a large balcony as well as a full porch along one side. Prohibition may have caused the demise of the hotel and the eventual demolition of the building in the 1920s.
What is the Rock House Gorge Trail Like?
This hike isn’t just about Rock House. The journey through the gorge is as memorable as any hike in hocking hills. The ferns, wildflowers, mosses, and lichens carpet the forest floor with beautiful greens and flower colors. You might see trillium, blood root, or wild geranium. The trees above including hemlock, oak, maple, and pine provide a ceiling far into the sky to your amazement and wonder. Along the trail rock and ledges add to the depth and variety of the view. The Rim trail hikes right over the Rock House and provides for a side view of Rock House from Above. The trail provides a good perspective on how hidden the cave is to passers by.
So, would we recommend Rock House? Rock House is definitely one of the top six hikes in Hocking Hills by popularity. So, to compare these hikes against Rock House, Old Man’s Cave is the most popular. We think Conkle’s Hollow is the most beautiful and provides a longer more immersed experience. Rock House is a quick hike and it ended about as fast as it started. If you are looking to add hikes to Rock House, Cantrell Cliffs is a little North and is longer and more technical. For similar hikes of this difficulty and length and beauty we would recommend Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. All of these hikes, history, and more on Hocking Hills can be found here. If you have time and the ability, these six hikes will provide you a full Hocking Hills Experience. See below for more details