How to Visit Hocking Hills and Beat the Crowds
By Paola Santiago

How to Visit Hocking Hills and Beat the Crowds

It's no secret that this is Ohio's most loved state park.

Hocking hills has been described by many as a gem, and most recently by The New York Times as “ethereal and mystical.” They’re not wrong.

Its lush canopy is characterized by massive sandstone cliffs and caves, deep cool gorges, towering hemlocks and glistening waterfalls. This place is truly otherworldly – but it’s also deeply loved and a massive attraction for residents and travelers all around the world.

You MUST see it. You can’t come to Ohio and not visit Hocking Hills State Park, so we’re here with tips on making the best of your visit to this Midwestern paradise.

First Things First

Get your bearings at the brand new, state-of-the-art, Hocking Hills Visitor’s Center: part rest and preparation area for hikers and travelers alike, part museum and educational gathering place. Two floors give travelers everything they need to know about the Hills before trekking out in the forest.

Downstairs you’ll find ample, air-conditioned bathrooms and water bottle re-fill stations. Best of all, you’ll see native historical artifacts to learn the history of the Hocking Hills and a mock cave you can light up with black lights to find hidden messages on the walls.

Upstairs, look for information on caves and hiking trails, a simulated hike so you can practice watching your step, tips on what to wear and trained park rangers ready to help you discover the best of Hocking Hills.

A roomy gift shop in the upper left-wing beckons you towards mementos to remember this magical place.

Choose Your Own Adventure

You don’t have to be an outdoors pro, but if you are, Hocking Hills has got you covered. From leisurely paths to walks that take you thrillingly across Ohio’s longest natural rock bridge, there’s a trail for every type of hiker.

Take advantage of recently opened Whispering Cave, a large recess cave that will dwarf you by comparison. The walls stretch more than 100 feet above the average traveler and the path is guarded by a low wooden rail.

Pro tip: make sure to wear closed-toed shoes – preferably hiking shoes as Hocking Hills features high sandstone cliffs and narrow gorges best traversed with outdoor wear.

A Forest All to Yourself

If you have a chance, visit Old Man’s Cave, famously known for its gorge and Devil’s Bathtub, a swirling pool just beneath a stone bridge. Old Man’s Cave popularity almost always guarantees a bit of a crowd, especially between 10 AM and 3 PM. For those Instagrammable moments, head to any of the other locations within Hocking Hills State Parks which span over 2,000 acres, including 17 acres of water!

Check out our recommended favorites like Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve and Rock House, a 200 ft long cave.

Pro Tip: In late January and February, winter snow and rain will melt to create a mesmerizing frozen waterfall beneath Ash Cave. Also, when traveling within the Rock House you can find a hidden flying bird figure formed by the various rock faces within the cave!

All of Ohio’s State Parks are free to enter. For more information visit the Ohio Department of Natural Resources or Explore Hocking Hills for recommended stays, eats, and events!

About the Author

Paola is the social media coordinator behind Ohio. Find It Here.'s social media handles. She loves writing stories that matter, especially when they're about food and travel! You can usually find her trying out Columbus' new restaurants or experimenting with her own culinary concoctions at home. Find her living her best life on Instagram at @paolasantidc.