If you’re headed to the Hocking Hills and want to take a easy hike, there are some great options that are short yet still showcase the beauty of the area. Read on to discover which of the hikes is best for you – or try them all!
Top 3 Easy Hikes in Hocking Hills:
- Ash Cave Gorge Trail
- Conkle’s Hollow
- Cedar Falls
These three hikes in Hocking Hills are extremely approachable for the novice hiker. Of course, an easy hike doesn’t have to mean boring.
These hikes may be short compared to some of the others in the area, but the rewards of the walk are many. You’ll still get to experience the beautiful deep gorges and waterfalls of the hills.
Let’s take a more detailed look at each of these easier hikes to discover what they offer.
Ash Cave Gorge Trail
Location: State Route 56, near the intersection of State Route 374 (see on map)
Length: 1/4 mile each way of an out and back paved trail
The gorge trail of Ash Cave is paved and flat making it a fantastic canidate for an easy hike. In addition, the 1/4 mile length is approachable for many fitness levels.
While the rim trail is only a half mile, it has elevation gains and steps, making it more challenging. We find the gorge trail more scenic, anyway.
The trail follows a tributary of Queer Creek through a tree lined hollow and ends at the huge box cave. Ash Cave is a stunning 700 feet long, 100 feet wide and 90 feet tall.
Do keep in mind the paved trail gives way to sandy ground when entering the cave, so the cave area may not be accessible to wheelchairs, strollers and the like.
The waterfall plunging off the top of the cave is much more impressive for its height than its waterflow. At times the falls can be a mere trickle.
However, Ash Cave Falls is particularly stunning in the winter when the watefall creates an ice dome at the base. In 2014, the dome gained height throughout the winter and almost froze the entire 90 feet!
If you want a little challenge after seeing the cave, follow the staircase behind the falls halfway up, then follow the trail to the right (in yellow on the map below). You won’t make it all the way to the rim, but will get a bit of an elevated perspective looking back at the cave and falls. This short spur reconnects with the gorge trail.
Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail
Location: Big Pine Road near intersetion of State Route 374 (see map)
Length: 3/4 mile each direction out and back, mostly paved
Conkle’s Hollow gorge trail is a refreshing treat on a hot summer day. While the dry months of July and August may not be the best times to see the falls at the end of the trail, it is a great time to retreat to the shade of the trees and cliffs.
The abundant ferns and greenery along the narrow walls of the hollow give this hike the feeling of a storybook or a prehistoric time.
There are some fun features along the trail kids might enjoy, like squeezing through the slump block rock and walking under a cave-like cliff overhang.
This trail is also a fantastic place to see spring wildflowers in the Hocking Hills.
Conkle’s Hollow Gorge Trail is mostly paved through the hollow, but the end of the trail becomes dirt and a bit rocky. We went with a very in shape 90 year old who made it past the Slump Block and about halfway to the falls.
Location: State Route 374 (see map)
Length: 1/2 mile
Overall Cedar Falls trail is an easy hike, but be aware you need to descend some stairs to get to the gorge.
And of course, what goes down must come back up. So do be prepared to hike back up those stairs on your way back.
Unlike Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls trail is not paved, but other than the descent/ascent to the gorge, it is fairly flat.
The trail parallels a stream amid the rocky sandstone walls. Be sure to keep an eye out for turtles in the stream near the falls.
Cedar Falls itself is the highest volume waterfall within Hocking Hills State Park.
Tip: If you don’t have time to hike the entire trail but still want to see the falls, instead of parking at the main parking lot, look for a small parking lot off State Route 374 near a large A frame decorative bridge. Go to the left side of the parking lot (not the bridge side) to descend the steps to Cedar Falls. You’ll cut out the walk along the creek, but not the descent. There a many steps this way, but platforms along the way to rest.
While Ash Cave is the shortest of the hikes, it is definitely the most different from the other two. So if you only have time for two trails, consider Ash Cave plus one of the others.
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