Hocking Hills State Park is an area of more than 36,000 acres in southeastern Ohio. It’s best known for its waterfalls, but there are also many hiking trails to explore. The park has eight areas: Ash Cave, Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House Cave, Lake Logan, and the Brushy Fork Reservoir.
Usually, it can be hard to find a good trail less than a mile long, but in Hocking Hills, there are plenty of options. These trails are perfect for people who want to get outside but don’t have as much time to spend on the trail or just want a chance to get some fresh air and enjoy Ohio’s natural beauty. They’re also great for families with kids who want to explore nature without getting too far away from home base.
5 Top Hocking Hills Trail Under 1 Mile
Old Man’s Cave is one of the most popular attractions in Hocking Hills State Park. It has a 0.5-mile hike that leads to a large rock shelter with a waterfall behind it. You can either take the trail around the right side of the falls or go through them on a wooden walkway built over them. This is by far the most popular attraction in the state park, and for a good reason. If you don’t want to hike the trail the entire 0.6 miles and you want to see the waterfall, you can also park towards the bottom end of the parking lot where the signage is and just take a quick walk to the waterfall that will be steps away!
TRAIL: Old Man’s Cave and Naturalist Cabin Loop
MILES: 0.6 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +62 ft Elevation Change
FACILITIES: No Facilities
ROUTE: Out & Back
While the Old Man’s Cave might be the most famous waterfall trail in Hocking Hills State Park, my personal favorite is the Ash Cave. Ash Cave Trail is a short hike with a lot of scenery, and it’s a good choice for families or anyone who’s looking for a quick summer hike.
The trail is considered easy and takes just 15 minutes to complete. There are no real obstacles on this route, so it’s suitable for most people. The path begins at the parking lot near Ash Cave Visitor Center and heads south toward the cave entrance. The path takes hikers up stairs before reaching the first overlook platform. From here, you’ll get great views of Ash Cave and some smaller caves nearby, as well as some impressive rock formations below them.
If you’d like to continue to see more of these formations, several other overlook points along this trail offer similar views at different angles from above.
TRAIL: Ash Cave Trail
MILES: 0.5 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +111 ft Elevation Change
Cedar Falls is the ultimate summer chill spot in Ohio. Located in Hocking Hills State Park this super short trail takes explorers through cedar groves before reaching two waterfalls. When it’s warmer out, I highly suggest sitting on the skirts of the falls with your feet in the water, or if you are feeling adventurous, you might even want to go for a little dip.
TRAIL: Cedar Falls, Buckeye, and Gorge Overlook Trail
MILES: 0.4 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +95 ft Elevation Change
Image 1) Old Man’s Cave, Image 2) Ash Cave, Image 3) Cedar Falls
Another option is to tie all three incredible waterfalls together for a longer day hike.
TRAIL: Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Old Man’s Cave
MILES: 12.3 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +1,243 ft Elevation Change
FACILITIES: No Facilities
ROUTE: Out & Back
The Rock House trail is an easy hike with a fun little twist. The trail is an out-and-back hike leading you to the Rock House, a small rock shelter with a large opening. The trail itself is well-maintained and easy to follow.
The trail begins at the Buckeye Trail parking lot and ends at the Rock House. The trail itself is only 0.8 miles long but includes some elevation change and some small rocks to climb over or step around. There are several large rocks along the trail that make for great sitting spots or, even better, vantage points for taking photos of other hikers on their journey through this area.
Once you reach the Rock House, you’ll be amazed by how big it actually is! You can walk right into it without bumping your head or scraping your knee (which is always a plus). In fact, this would be an awesome place for kids who love nature because it’s not too difficult but still offers plenty of fun features!
TRAIL: Rock House
MILES: 0.8 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +203 ft Elevation Change
The Airplane Rock and Chapel Cave Loop is a 4.4-mile loop, but I include it on this list because I would highly suggest forgoing the hike to Airplane Rock and just walking to the Chapel Cave and then back to the parking area.
The hike to Airplane rock is nasty. Unless you are a horse, there are zero reasons for you to be on the back side of this trail (miles 1-3). The airplane rock is, eh, it’s okay – but it’s not amazing. But the Chapel Cave is definitely worth the stop so here is my suggestion.
Do this hike clockwise. After you leave the parking lot and head down the hill, you’ll come to a “Y” on the trail. Go Left. The cave is maybe a half mile from there. Stay on the orange-marked trail because getting off the path is super easy.
If you want to continue from there, feel free. There is a nice creek and a vast cave a little further down, but I wouldn’t suggest hiking the entire loop.
TRAIL: Airplane Rock and Chapel Cave Loop
MILES: 4.4 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +626 ft Elevation Change
Image 1) The Rock House, Image 2) Chapel Cave
Conkle’s Hollow Gorge is another beautiful scenic trail with a whispering waterfall that will make you happy you came. While this trail is not under 1 mile, the paved path makes the distance seem like cake. If you want something more challenging, you can take the stairs at the beginning of the trail to the top of Conkle’s Hollow to get some panoramic views and a cool glimpse down at the falls!
TRAIL: Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail
MILES: 1.2 Miles RT
ELEVATION: +72 ft Elevation Change
ROUTE: Out & Back
Where To Eat:
When it comes to getting something good to eat, you have really only two options. You can bring your own groceries or stop in Logan, Ohio at either Walmart or Kroger before heading deeper into the park. Or, you can drive back out to Logan and grab something to eat at one of the restaurants in town.
There really aren’t other food options once you get into the park outside of the little convenient store located next to the Chalets of Hocking Hills and a few minutes from the Old Man’s Cave parking area. However, I would 100% recommend stopping at the little store while you are in town and trying 1 of their +24 flavors of soft-serve ice cream! If you are having trouble deciding on a flavor, I absolutely love their watermelon soft-serve and pretty much get it every time I visit.
Where To Sleep:
You might not believe this, but Hocking Hills is like the mecca of unique and stunning rentals. I’ve been to destinations all over the unique states, and I think the accommodations in Hocking Hills are pretty unmatched in the Midwest. So if exploring the waterfalls and caves isn’t your thing, you might still want to check out Hocking Hills for their fantastic house. It’s a great place to bunk up with some friends for a little weekend getaway or enjoy with the family.
Here are my favorite rentals that I’ve personally stayed at or have on my wish list, but plenty is out there, so feel free to search on your own.
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