If you think Hocking Hills is all spring wildflowers and fall leaves – think again! One of the best time to visit this region is when the temperatures dip and the days get shorter.
Don’t let chilly temperatures prevent you from heading the Hocking country.
Here are some fun thing to do in Hocking Hills in the winter.
Take a Hike
Put on those layers and go hiking!
Hocking Hills is arguably at her most beautiful in the winter, with icicles adorning the sides of the sandstone hollows. Hemlock trees keep the landscape from looking totally barren. There really is a special splendor to the hills in the colder months.
The Ash Cave Gorge Trails is perfectly suited for a winter hike. The overall path is paved and flat. In addition, the trail is only half a mile.
(NOTE: In 2020 due to COVID concerns, Ash Cave trail is now a one way loop, which requires walking up some wooden steps. However, if you are physically not able to do the steps, returning the paved trail is permitted.)
Ash Cave’s waterfall really shines when the temperatures stay cold. Ice begins to form at the base of the falls and gradually builds up to big dome. In addition, the plunging water over the top edge of the cave forms an ice stalactite.
Take a look at Hocking Hills State Park calendar for the Valentine’s Day Sweetheart’s hike and Christmas in the Hills for these seasonal events. Both events typically feature a luminary lined trail which culminates with a bonfire, hot chocolate and cookies at the cave.
Old Man’s Cave
Imagine a fairy tale adventure where the rock walls are covered icicles sparkling among the evergreen trees. This is exactly what you’ll encounter along Old Man’s Cave trail in winter.
While Old Man’s Cave contains some incredibly stunning views, the path can get very slippery with ice cover. In addition, there are stone steps that can be a challenge, so wear your hiking boots.
If you have concerns, check with a park ranger at the Visitor Center for the conditions of the trail for prior to heading out.
Annual Winter Hike
The Annual Winter Hike takes place in January each year. The hike begins at Old Man’s Cave and follows a six mile route past Cedar Falls, ending at Ash Cave. Warm up at the half way point to enjoy the bean soup, cornbread and cocoa.
Take note, it can get crowded. In addition, pack your patience while you wait for the shuttle to take you back to the start.
If you are with a group with multiple cars, consider leaving a car at the Ash Cave parking lot so you don’t have to wait.
While the hike is worth it, be sure you are prepared with the proper footwear and prepared to take things slowly.
Remember, there is no bad weather as long as you wear appropriate clothing. Hocking Hills trails are simply stunning in the winter.
Go Wine (Or Beer) Tasting
Hocking Hills Winery
If you need to warm up after your hike, head over to the Hocking Hills Winery to do some wine tasting.
After selecting your favorite, get a glass and snuggle in front of the fireplace with your wine.
Be sure to check their calendar for musical acts.
Le Petit Chevalier
Le Petit Chevalier is a winery located a bit closer to the park area. Concentrating on native grapes, you can taste wines similar to what early Ohio settlers would have enjoyed.
This winery has a small tasting room as well as some outdoor seating overlooking the rolling hills.
If beer is more of your thing, Brewery 33 is for you. Their beers range from kolsch to IPAs to goses, so start with a flight to find your favorite. The brewery also has local snacks, hosts food trucks and is close to several restaurants.
Driving from the Columbus region? You can sample beers as you travel along the Route 33 Brew Trail.
Be sure to plan some extra time to enjoy the beautiful scenery and tap room at Rockmill Brewery. It’s a great spot for a wood fired pizza or charcuterie board lunch.
Finish at Route 33 and then have dinner at one of the nearby restaurants, such as the Mill Barbeque or Hungry Buffalo.
Look for Treasures at the Antique Shops
If you like the thrill of the hunt, head to the antique shops in Rockbridge and Logan. Whether you’re looking for something to decorate your home or just enjoy “remembering when,” you’re sure to be entertained browsing the stalls of the antique dealers.
Rockbridge Antiques Art & Collectibles and Spring Street Antique Mall are located along Route 33 in Rockbridge. Logan Antique Mall is a a few short miles south.
Take Comfort in Cuisine
Explore Hocking Hills hosts a Comfort Food Cruise each January, allowing you to sample a wide variety of warm stick to your ribs items. Stop at 15 or so local restaurants with your purchased trail pass to nosh on food ranging from sliders to soups to cobblers. Don’t worry if you can’t get to all the stops in one weekend, as the event trypically covers multiple weekends.
Even if it isn’t one of the weekends for the Comfort Food Cruise, you can still enjoy plenty of belly filling, warming foods. Check out the hearty barbeque at Millstone BBQ or entrees, sandwiches and more from the Hungry Buffalo.
If you’re closer to the South Bloomingville or Laurelville area, Mam’s Rusted Skillet, The Ridge Inn and Steve’s Pizza will be sure to please families looking for that full belly feeling.
Attend the Logan Frozen Festival
Even though it’s a relatively new event, the Logan Frozen Festival is full of plenty of fun activities.
Enjoy chainsaw carved ice sculptures, games, food trucks, music and more.
Winter is one of those times you can get away with indulging in a book and hot chocolate in front of a fireplace. Play board games, card games or do a jigsaw puzzle with your family. Take a nap. Sit in a hot tub as the snow gently falls.
Give in to the slower pace of the shorter days and use this time to decompress.
While the pace may be a bit more relaxed, there are still plenty of things to do in the Hocking Hills in the winter.
Which one do you look forward to the most?