One of the most scenic state parks in the Ohio Valley is also one of the most RV-friendly ones. Hocking Hills State Park is also very accessible, as it is just a short drive southeast of Columbus.
It’s believed that some three hundred million years ago, this part of Ohio was at the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean. As the waters receded, they left behind tons of sediment. That sandy sediment bonded with the rock to form soft sandstone. Eons later, when the Appalachian Mountains formed and the Wisconsin Glacier melted, numerous caves formed in what would become Hocking Hills State Park.
The caves, lakes, hiking trails, and other attractions draw over four million visitors to the park every year. During the summer, a shuttle runs from downtown Logan, making the park easy for everyone to access.
RV Rentals in Hocking Hills State Park
Transportation in Hocking Hills State Park
From Columbus, take U.S. Highway 23 south to Circleville, then take State Highway 56 south to either Road 664 or 374. Route 664 takes visitors close to Old Man’s Cave; Route 374 goes closer to the main campground.
From Cincinnati, take U.S. Highway 50 east to Curry Road, which is not far past Allensville. Then, go right on Goose Creek Road to South Bloomingville. Travelers may then take Route 664 into the Park or go a short distance south on Highway 56 to Route 374.
From Pittsburgh, take Interstate 70 west to Cambridge, then take Interstate 77 south to Parkersburg. Then, take U.S. Highway 50 west to Athens. Finally, take State Highway 56 to Hocking Hills State Park.
The Park’s GPS coordinates are 39°25′50″N 82°32′20″W. For a GPS address, use 19852 State Route 664 South, Logan, Ohio 43138.
RV parking is available near Ash Cave and Rose Lake. There is also ample RV parking at the campground.
Campgrounds and parking in Hocking Hills State Park
Campsites in Hocking Hills State Park
Old Man’s Cave Campground
This large RV campground has nearly a hundred 20 amp, 30 amp, and 50 amp electric hookup sites available for reservation and can accommodate rigs up to 50’. There are also twelve non-electric RV campsites. The sites are all paved and level. Amenities include a scenic overlook, amphitheater, showers, dump station, laundromat, swimming pool, several playgrounds, camp store, horseshoe pit, and volleyball court. The scenic overlook is adjacent to the fishing-only lake. Campers also have ready access to numerous hiking trails.
Old Man's Cave Campground
A number of RV-friendly campsites (about 25) are set aside for first-come, first-served stays. Of these, more than 20 offer electric hookups. All are handy to the water pump, shower house, dump station and latrines and have easy access to hiking trails.
Overnight cabins are available at Ash Cave, Rock House, Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Cantwell Cliffs.
The campground cabins are more like rustic hotel rooms. They are fully apportioned with widescreen TVs, full kitchens, and sheltered porches. Each 2 bedroom, one living room, and one bathroom cabin comfortably sleeps six people.
From May through October, visitors may stay in one of these cabins. Each one has cots, bench beds, stove, camp light, and cooler.
Offsite RV Camping
There are a number of non-park RV camping areas in this part of Ohio. Many of these facilities have amenities like WiFi, full hookup sites, dump stations, and laundromats.
Seasonal activities in Hocking Hills State Park
Hocking Hills State Park is basically a collection of underground caves. Ash Cave is the largest and arguably most impressive one. This horseshoe-shaped cave is impressive indeed. It’s about 700 feet long and 100 feet deep in some places. Features include a waterfall and blooming wildflowers in season. Ash Cave got its name because of the big pile of ash which archaeologists discovered in the late 1870s. The signs of an ancient Indian civilization are everywhere. In addition to the fire ash, recovered artifacts include weapons, tools, and pottery. This cave was a major stopping point along the main Indian trail in the area, which is now State Highway 56. There are several hiking trails in the vicinity. One of them is very challenging, one is wheelchair-accessible, and the rest are in between. Other nearby facilities include parking lot, restrooms, and a picnic area.
One of the most remote areas of the Park may also be one of the most picturesque ones. Due to eons of erosion, the valley is deep, the cliffs are steep, and the cave passageways are quite narrow. One of them bears the politically-incorrect name Fat Woman’s Squeeze. Don’t miss Lookout Point on the east part of the Rim Trail. There are two trails in the area. One is quite treacherous in spots (after all, you are hiking among cliffs) and the other one is rather moderate. Other facilities include a parking area, restrooms, overnight cabin, and rest shelter.
In terms of volume, Cedar Falls is the largest waterfall in the Hocking County area. Early white settlers believed that the hemlock trees were cedar trees, hence the misnomer. Believe it or not, many visitors rave about the staircase. Designer Akio Hizume, who is also a mathematician, carefully laid out the staircase to make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible. The irregular steps mimic the Fibonacci sequence, the one-dimensional Penrose lattice, and some other mathematical formulas we do not really understand.
Perhaps the deepest gorge in Ohio is especially pretty during summer and early fall. The lush tree canopy blots out the sun entirely in many places. Most of these trees are wild hemlocks. There are also a few hardwood and birch trees. Despite the lack of light, wildflowers thrive here. Due to the foreboding cliffs, the hiking trails in the area are quite difficult. Oh, be sure and ask a park ranger about the legend of Conkle’s treasure. Perhaps you will be the lucky one to uncover it...
Old Man’s Cave
Comic book fans may recognize Old Man’s Cave as the setting for many stories in the Bone series. This cave is probably the most popular Park attraction. The trail that connects it to Ash Cave and Cedar Falls is part of the North Country Scenic Trail, as well as America’s Discovery Trail. The cave got its name because people used to live here. One of them — Richard Rowe — took his family here in 1796. He is also buried here. There are five gorge sections in this cave:
- Upper Falls
- Upper Gorge
- Middle Falls
- Lower Falls
- Lower Gorge
The entire cave area covers about a half square mile.
In a parkful of caves, Rock House is the only true cave. Native Americans learned that they could build fires to heat the rocks and therefore bake food. Later cave dwellers carved out troughs to catch springwater. As a result, Rock House has sheltered a number of shady characters over the years and the spot has a rich history. To accommodate tourists, in the 1830s, an Army colonel built a 16-room hotel on this site. Today, what remains of the hotel is a picnic shelter.
The second-largest recess cave in the Eastern United States is just south of Old Man’s Cave. It also has a ten-story waterfall. A trail winds through the woods and rocks to the Cave. It’s rather muddy in places due to underground springs, but there are usually boardwalks over the really wet parts. The trail is well marked and moderately difficult.
Ash Cave Fire Tower
Built in 1943, Hocking Hills’ fire tower is part of the National Historic Lookout Register. This 80-foot tower is at an elevation of about 1,000 feet. It’s been recently restored, and climbers may very, very carefully ascend the steps six people at a time. The fire tower is a nice attraction when the winds are calm.
John Glenn Observatory
The Ohio/West Virginia border area, including Hocking Hills State Park, is a good place for skywatching. Elevations are high and light pollution is minimal. This Observatory is one of the Park’s newer attractions. During the day, visitors may study the position of the sun. At night, most of the Solar System’s planets are clearly visible with telescopes, and distant stars look much closer.
A number of private or park-affiliated vendors sponsor a number of different activities. Airplane and horseback Park tours are quite popular. The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway also runs through the Park. Vintage locomotives run along the old C&O (Chesapeake & Ohio) track. Finally, there is a good reason Hocking Hills is known as the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest. An outdoor zipline facilitates a traditional canopy tour, NightFlight, and a (gulp) SuperZip tour.