There’s something especially soothing and relaxing about sitting beside a running waterfall, listening to the water and taking in the beauty of nature. Luckily, if you’re headed to the Hocking Hills State Park area, you’ll have numerous opportunities to enjoy waterfalls.
Whether you’re a waterfall fanatic or just want to enjoy the best of what the area has to offer, be sure to check out these stunning trails.
Here are the 7 best Hocking Hills waterfall hikes:
- Ash Cave Gorge Trail
- Cedar Falls
- Conkle’s Hollow
- Broken Rock Falls
- Upper Falls
- Long Hollow Falls
- Big Spring Hollow Falls
Each trail has a different length and difficulty level, so read on to discover which waterfall hike is best for you.
Or perhaps you’ll discover you want to visit them all!
Ash Cave Gorge Trail
Distance: ¼ mile mostly paved trail
The effort/reward payoff for this hike is one of the best. The short-paved trail travels through a gorgeous gorge filled with trees and foliage. At the end of the trail, the waterfall at Ash Cave is approximately 80 feet tall.
Ash Cave Falls can range from a trickle to a rushing spectacle, but no matter what the flow is like visiting the cave is still a worthy walk.
One of the most impressive times to visit Ash Cave is in coldest days of winter. If temperatures have been consistently cold, an ice dome begins to form at the bottom of the waterfall and slowly starts to build up towards the top of the falls. It’s impressive to see!
While the paved trail is paved and conducive to wheelchairs and strollers, be advised at the end of the trail under the cave recess is a soft sandy ground, which may be tougher to navigate.
The Ash Cave Gorge Trail will take to you the base of the waterfall. If you are interested in seeing the origin of the falls, climb the steps behind the falls which connects to the Rim Trail.
Distance: ½ mile
The hike to Cedar Falls is approximately a half mile through beautiful moss covered cliffs surrounded by tall hemlock trees. Settlers mistook the hemlock trees as cedar trees, and that’s how Cedar Falls got the name.
Cedar Falls is about 50 feet tall. While not the tallest falls in the area, it is one of the falls with the highest volume of water, making it an impressive view.
You’ll follow a streambed along your hike; be sure to keep an eye out for some swimming turtles.
Be on the lookout for “hidden falls” next to the steps descending to Cedar Falls. From Cedar Falls, cross the bridge and look across the creek. There’s a lovely waterfall there, too.
Distance: 1 mile
Conkle’s Hollow is a deep gorge area with cliffs covered in ferns and beautiful greenery. You’ll feel like you’re walking through Jurassic Park.
Like Ash Cave, Conkle’s Hollow has access via a paved trail for most of the hike. The paving ends prior to the waterfall, but still offers amazing views if you are unable to make it all the way to the falls.
The gorge of Conkle’s Hollow is one of the deepest in the area and stays mostly shaded. While you may not get as much water running in the high heat of summer, you will find Conkle’s Hollow to be a cool place to get away from the hot sun.
Broken Rock Falls
Broken Rock Falls can be accessed from a spur off the Old Man’s Cave trail. This waterfall is beautiful and you can get right up to the base of it.
It’s surprising how traveled Old Man’s Cave is, yet few people take the opportunity to take this spur off the beaten path.
Perhaps because it requires many uphill rocky steps or because it is at the end of the Old Man’s Cave trail when taken in the most common direction.
Broken Rock Falls is at the south end of Old Man’s Cave trail, closest to the Lower Falls.
If you have already hiked Old Man’s Cave and just want to see Broken Rock Falls, consider taking what is called the Gorge Exit trail that parallels the service road and takes you to the long tunnel rather than entering the gorge at the Nature Center.
When planning your trip to Hocking Hills, you probably came across a photo of a beautiful waterfall running under a stone bridge. This is the Upper Falls trail at Old Man’s Cave.
The Upper Falls trail is a spur off the Old Man’s Cave gorge loop, but the view is worth the extra steps.
Tip: If you just want to see the Upper Falls and not hike the entire Old Man’s Cave trail, park at the north end of the parking lot (furthest from the Visitor’s Center main access) and there is a short path to take you bridge over the Upper Falls.
After crossing the bridge, you can descend to the gorge to see the falls and then exit the way you came. Great for when you’ve already had a full day of hiking but really want to see the falls.
Long Hollow Falls
A lesser known waterfall in the Hocking Hills, the falls in this box canyon boast a 90-foot drop. It may not be the most impressive water volume and it depends on spring rain, it’s an off the beaten path hike with additional features that are worth it even if there’s nothing running at the fall.
Chapel Cave is a must-do hike detour. One of the few true caves in Hocking Hills, it is also called 21 Horse Cave as it is reported 21 horses can fit inside.
Speaking of horses, this is a bridle trail so you may cross paths with horseback riders. The ground also gets very muddy, so be sure to wear good boots. And also watch out for horse droppings.
As it is a bridle trail, the path isn’t as well marked as a hiking trail. Check out this site for detailed instructions on how to access the waterfall.
Big Spring Hollow Falls
A much shorter off-the-beaten path waterfall, Big Spring Hollow can be found in the rock climbing and rappelling are of Hocking Hills.
After crossing Big Pine Road from the rappelling parking area, you’ll go over a bridge. Stay to the path on the right to get to the falls. The waterfall is located on this map where the text says “Big Spring Hollow.”
The waterfall in the Big Spring Hollows is the highest in the area, registering at over 100 feet. You may also see some rappelers as well.
There are plenty boulders at the base so you can sit for a while to enjoy the falls.
Due to these boulders plus the fact this is a lesser known trail and fairly short, Big Spring Hollow Falls makes a great spot to sit to enjoy your picnic. Just be sure to pack out your trash.
Find the state park hiking trails via the Hocking Hills State Park’s trial map.
When visiting the Hocking Hills State Park area, you’ll have plenty of options for amazing waterfall hikes.
Frequently Asked Questions about Hocking Hills Waterfall Hikes
Where is Hocking Hills located?
Hocking Hills is located in southeastern Ohio in Hocking County. From Columbus, the drive is approximately 1 hour. Cleveland to Hocking Hills is about 3 hours, while the drive from Cincinnati clocks in at about 2.5 hours.
Why are there so many waterfalls in Hocking Hills?
The soft sandstone of this area is eroded by running water from nearby streams, which in turn cuts deep massive gorges through the area. After the rock under the area has eroded, the water plunges to the lower elevation as a waterfall.
When is the best time to see waterfalls?
Spring is often a fantastic time to see rushing waterfalls in the Hocking Hills area. A hike timed after a spring shower may be muddy (wear your boots) but will more likely allow you to see some amazing sights.
Many people skip winter in the Hocking Hills, which can be a terrific time to see that frozen falls. The sides of the gorges are often decorated with icicles and the waterfalls create stunning frozen formations. Especially impressive is the ice dome that can build up at Ash Cave during a period with consistent below freezing temperatures.
Can I swim in the waterfalls?
Swimming or wading in the waterfall pools and other off path locations are prohibited by the state park. Please stay on designated paths. This restriction is for your own safety and for the preservation of the natural environment.
What’s your favorite Hocking Hills waterfall hike?
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