Hocking Hills State Park

ULTIMATE Guide to Hocking Hills State Park: Things to Do, See, & Explore

In Southeast Ohio, there is a gorgeous place called Hocking Hills. Located in Hocking County, it is one of the most popular spots for outdoor adventurers throughout the year.

This region attracts many visitors from every part of the state because of its unique landscape and stunning visuals. It is considered one of Ohio’s great gems. To find out for yourself, check out this guide to fun things to do in Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills State Park-Logan
Hocking Hills State Park | photo via arthurgphotography

About the Hocking Hills Region

Hocking Hills is part of the Appalachian Mountain range, so you can expect some beautiful scenery as you drive up to the area. With tree-covered mountaintops, stunning lakes, and rivers, you are literally touching down in a forested paradise when you arrive.

There are over 9,800 acres of land in Hocking State Forest alone, and more than 2,300 acres of that land accounts for Hocking Hills State Park. So, it would take a nice chunk of time to fully explore the entirety of this gorgeous region.

Yet, it is certainly worth a few trips to do just that! If you love outdoor activities, there are tons of things to do in Hocking Hills. But, that doesn’t mean that the area lacks indoor experiences as well. In the end, this place is the perfect travel destination with a beautiful backdrop.

Cedar Falls - Logan, Ohio
Cedar Falls | photo via @happymitten

Top Things to Do in Hocking Hills Ohio

Explore Some Hiking Trails

Hocking Hills is chock full of hiking trails, and it’s a very popular region for hikers. Some paths are more challenging than others, so it’s important to know your limits before choosing which trails to hike. Here are a few of the best trails to consider exploring:

  • Ash Cave
  • Cedar Falls
  • Old Man’s Cave
  • Hemlock Bridge
  • Conkles Hollow

There are other well-known trails that hikers love to visit, and one of them is the Hocking State Forest bridle trail. It is adored by riders who love being surrounded by nature alongside their trusted steeds. You can definitely explore this trail on foot too. Just be mindful of the horses and their riders.

Since the bridle trail is designated for people riding horseback, there can be a lot of traffic. In addition, horses often leave “things” behind them. So, a sturdy pair of hiking boots would be a practical investment if you plan to explore this trail.

Check Out the Caves, Cliffs, Gorges, & Other Rock Formations

While you’re exploring the Hocking Hills trails, you’ll probably come across some amazing Ohio caves, gorges, and other rock formations. One of the reasons that the region is so wondrous is that nature is the original architect.

Over thousands of years, these natural formations have developed into something phenomenal that only time can create. Some of the most popular spots include:

  • Whispering Cave
  • Rock House
  • Cantwell Cliffs
  • Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve
  • Rockbridge State Nature Preserve

Keep in mind that hiking the Hocking Hills trails will naturally lead you to some of these areas. Of course, you can skip the hikes altogether and head straight to these areas for some geological wonder.

Some of them are in very steep terrain and will discourage very young visitors and people with impaired mobility from exploring certain spots. Check out the areas you may have an interest in before going so that you know who can (or can’t) go along.

Hocking Hills State Park | photo via @fmmw

Cast a Line & Go Fishing

Rose Lake is a large reservoir in Hocking Hills State Park and is a fantastic fishing spot. In fact, people often call it Fisherman’s Lake because of this. Every spring, the entire lake is stocked with trout, and avid anglers flock to the water to catch a few.

Swimming is not allowed on Rose Lake, but paddle boats and electric motorboats are permitted.

Another great spot for fishing is Lake Logan State Park. Anglers can expect bluegill, catfish, crappie, and bass, as well as other types of fish that are commonly found in the Hocking Hills region. The area around Lake Logan is very serene, surrounded by a hickory forest that serves as a natural barrier between the busy world and the peaceful lake.

TIP: If you plan to go fishing, be sure to get an Ohio fishing license. Licenses are relatively inexpensive and can be obtained from a number of places.

Go Camping or Glamping

When you’re planning to enjoy the great outdoors, camping might be on the agenda. Hocking Hills is definitely one of those places that campers love to spend time in. One of the reasons (besides the beautiful landscape) is that Hocking Hills is a go-to camping spot with so many ways to do it.

Camp Akita & Camp Oty’Okwa

Camp Akita and Camp Oty’Okwa have designated camping grounds that provide lodging for campers who want to have outdoorsy fun without having to fiddle with setting up a tent. Oty’Okwa is one of the most popular sleepaway camps for children in Ohio.

Camp Oty’Okwa is actually run by the Big Brothers Big Sisters organization and is open throughout the year. Needless to say, this particular camp is kid-friendly and holds tons of events. 

High Rock Hideaways

High Rock Hideaways is another place where campers can set up shop. It is conveniently located in the middle of the Hocking Hills area. So, whatever direction you want to head in, you won’t have to go too far to get there.

High Rock is a good place to rent a cabin, but if you’re in an RV, there are also designed sites for RV parking (four different areas, in fact). Electric, sewer, and water hookups are available at each site. So, if you want to do more glamping than camping, this is a nice possibility.

Hocking Hills Campground

For campers who want to keep it as rustic as possible, the Hocking Hills Campground would be an ideal location. Next to the Hocking River, this campground is the perfect place to pitch a tent and enjoy a more traditional camping experience.

If this is the type of camping experience that’s up your alley, keep in mind that parts of the Hocking River are prone to flooding. So, try to consider weather conditions when planning your camping trip.

Related: Best Places to Go Camping in Ohio | Our Favorite Ohio Campgrounds

Grab a Camera or a Canvas

When there’s so much beauty surrounding you, how could you not capture it? Hocking Hills is a fantastic place for nature lovers to take some snapshots.

When you go, you’ll see that people with cameras are not in short supply. There may be more nature photographers than you can count on days with good weather.

Don’t be surprised to see a few artists and easels set up at various spots as well. In fact, if you like to paint, Hocking Hills is a great muse for a canvas. Since there are thousands of acres, it’s not difficult to find a quiet and relaxing place to create some art.

So, don’t be afraid to grab some art supplies before you head out. Whether you’re capturing the scene on film or canvas, it would be a shame to finish your trip without having a visual keepsake.

Take a Ride Down a River

River trips are another popular activity that people enjoy when visiting Hocking Hills. In fact, river rides are a huge business staple for many outdoor adventure companies in the region. During warmer months, you will see people rafting, kayaking, canoeing, and tubing down the Hocking River.

Also, you can choose how long you spend on your river ride. Some people opt for a short tube ride, while others may spend an entire weekend in kayaks or canoes. The Hocking River is known for being lazy, so you won’t have to worry too much about fast water.

TIP: When you plan any trip around water, always pay attention to the forecast. Rain doesn’t necessarily rule out a river ride, but it can affect the type of rides available. So, plan accordingly.

Pencil Sharpner Museum-Logan
Pencil Sharpener Museum | photo via rachael.belford

Observe the Wildlife

It’s impossible to go to a recreational area without seeing a bit of wildlife, and Hocking Hills has plenty of it. One animal that many people hope to see when they visit is a bobcat.

For a while, the bobcat population in Ohio was in serious decline. Recently, it was discovered that the private wildcat population is on the rise. They can be hard to spot, but more and more people have been able to see a few.

Other Animals & Birds

Other animals that you may come across include skunks, squirrels, white-tailed deer, raccoons, red-backed salamanders, and box turtles.

Since Hocking Hills is located in a hilly and mountainous area, you can expect to see a variety of birds, too. Keep an eye out for barn owls, turkey vultures, red-tailed hawks, wood thrush, woodpeckers, and wild turkeys.

If you love wildlife, this will be a bright spot in your outdoor adventure in the Hocking Hills region.

John Glenn Astronomy Park
John Glenn Astronomy Park | photo via arthurgphotography

Visit the John Glenn Astronomy Park

John Glenn is one of Ohio’s most admired heroes, and the John Glenn Astronomy Park is wonderful for anyone who enjoys the wide-open sky and the wonders of space.

The park regularly hosts observer programs most of the year but shuts down during the winter months. By March, the programs reopen for anyone who is interested.

Outside of that, this place is great for stargazers and is open to anyone who enjoys watching the night sky. Visitors are encouraged to bring telescopes and other equipment to get a good look at the stars. Don’t forget to grab some lawn chairs!

Have Some Fun at an Adventure Park

If you’re looking for more adventure, head over to NevilleBillie Adventure Park. This place can be great for people who like high-octane fun. Visitors can go to the paintball park and have a blast, choosing between several different courses.

And, you can rent some four-wheelers to barrel along some trails. There is a huge ropes course — billed as the world’s largest, in fact. It even has a trippy place called the Moonshiner’s Mystery Shack that plays with the senses in a mystical, but fun way.

Visitors can book tours and packages in advance. It’s a family-friendly adventure park, so there is something for people of any age.

One of the funniest things to observe is the adults recapturing their childlike sense of adventure. In a way, everyone turns into kids again at NevilleBillie.

NOTE: The adventure park shuts down during winter but reopens once the weather warms up.

Hocking Hills Winery
Hocking Hills Winery | photo via letsgotoursandvacations

Take a Wine Tour

After getting your fill of the amazing scenery of Hocking Hills, think about filling up a wine glass. Hocking Hills Winery is a nice place to relax and take a pleasant wine tour.

This family-run business has been around since 2013, and its award-winning vintages are well known throughout the region. If you happen to visit on a Friday or Saturday night, you’ll get to enjoy live musical performances.

One reason this winery produces such great wine is because of its location. Vineyards located at higher altitudes have the advantage of warm days and cool nights. This helps grapes retain an acidity that produces nice vintages.

Hocking Hills Winery has wine production down pat, and tasting a glass proves that. Different events are held throughout the year, so call ahead before going. There might be something going on that you will really want to check out.

Related: Awesome Vineyards & Wineries in Ohio You Must Visit This Year

Visit a Pencil Museum

It may seem like an oddball thing to add to your Hocking Hills traveling agenda, but there is an actual museum dedicated to pencil sharpeners in the area.

The Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum is located in the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center. It’s free to explore and features a 20-year collection of more than 3,400 pencil sharpeners.

Rev. Paul Johnson’s personally curated collection of pencil sharpeners is thought to be the largest of its kind in the world. This quirky collection is so unique that its existence has been the subject of many articles in different publications.

Who knew that pencil sharpeners could draw a crowd? Apparently, Paul Johnson knew!

Moonvile Tunnel-Athens
Moonvile Tunnel | photo via nifty.nathan

Tell a Ghost Story in Moonville Tunnel

If you want to add a dash of spooky fun to your Hocking Hills trip, check out Moonville Tunnel. First, here’s a bit of the backstory about this place: Moonville Tunnel is said to be one of the most haunted places in Ohio.

Moonville was once a coal mining town, and the tunnel was part of a railroad system that transported coal. Legend has it that several people died as a result of being hit by trains in the tunnel. People claim that, at night, a ghost can be seen carrying a lantern.

While Moonville no longer exists (it’s a literal ghost town) and the tunnel was abandoned ages ago, tales of it being haunted persist to this day. If something like that appeals to you, then it’s certainly a spot you should check out.

However, choose your adventure carefully. Those who are faint of heart about ghost stories might want to check it out during the day.

Related: Thrilling Activities at Ghostly Manor Thrill Center in Sandusky

Take a Trip to a Farm

If you’re visiting Hocking Hills with a family in tow, Fox’s High Rock Farm would be a wonderful place to add to your list. The farm has been open to the public since 2016. While it hasn’t been around for a long amount of time, it has quickly gained a large following and appreciation since its debut.

Part farm, part petting zoo, everyone (particularly children) will adore having a fuzzy meet-and-greet with the sweet animals. Goats, pigs, horses, donkeys, cows, and a few alpacas make up the furry family of the farm. On top of that, new baby animals come into the farm world regularly.

Tractor wagon rides are offered throughout the day. There’s even a gem mining activity to add some treasure-hunting fun to the mix. The farm is also a nice way to add another perspective of how nature works to your family’s fun. Besides, a day can never go wrong when you’re playing with cute baby animals!

Related: Bob Evans Farms & Hale Farm and Village

Make Some Medieval Memories

Ravenwood Castle is a literal castle that sits in the woods of Hocking Hills. While it’s technically an inn that provides lodging for area visitors, it is also a popular wedding venue and is well known for hosting murder mystery events.

Under the playful auspices of the Ravenwood Detective Agency, people can join in the investigative fun and help get to the bottom of these fictional mysteries. You can buy advance tickets to join the groups, and you don’t have to be an inn guest to participate.

Additionally, Ravenwood Castle is a popular gathering spot for gamers, and it hosts different game nights for a variety of players. If there is a game that you prefer but don’t see listed, let the innkeepers know. They’ll try to find a way to make it happen.

Related: Castles in Ohio Make Excellent Day Trip Destinations

Captin Ron's Pirate Pizza-Logan
Captin Ron’s Pirate Pizza | photo via byondbzr

Delicious Restaurants in Hocking Hills

Whatever activity visitors engage in, everyone needs to eat. Here are a couple of Hocking Hills restaurants where you can grab a delicious plate.

The Urban Grille

It’s a little ironic that a restaurant named The Urban Grille is in the middle of Ohio hill country, but you won’t care when you dig into one of its dishes.

This place is actually located within the Hocking Hills Golf Club (another thing to do, if you’re up for it). You can order standards like fried fish, chicken tenders, and burgers. You could even up going for an entree like blackened rib-eye, smothered chicken, or salmon filets.

Capt. Ron’s Pirate Pizza

You can never go wrong with pizza, and Capt. Ron’s Pirate Pizza has some of the best slices in Hocking Hills. Besides pizza, diners can order hot dogs, salads, subs, and wings. Don’t miss out on the extremely popular cheesy garlic bread, though.

This spot is very close to some popular hiking trails and is perfect when you’re starving after some vigorous hiking.

Getaway Cabins
Getaway Cabins | photo via lorradams

Comfortable Vacation Rentals & Lodging in Hocking Hills

While the Hocking Hills region seems to be in the middle of nowhere in Southeast Ohio’s Appalachian Mountains, there are plenty of lodging options. In particular, you’ll find some relaxing and interesting Hocking Hills vacation rentals.

Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls has a nice selection of cabins and cottages. However, this place also has geodomes and yurts (Mongolian-inspired round tents). These aren’t just any tents either.

Gorgeous wooden floors, patios, king-sized beds, tiled bathrooms, heat, and A/C are all standard amenities in the yurts. The modern-styled geodomes are also very cool and are similarly packed with amenities.

You could also choose the traditional route with an old-fashioned cabin, which has a full kitchen and air conditioning, of course.

Getaway Cabins

There are dozens of different cabins at Getaway Cabins. While some of them sleep up to 16 people, some of them are cozy for two. So whether you’re going to Hocking Hills with a big group or traveling solo, one of these cabins is sure to suit you just right.

A huge library of movies is free to guests. And, the cabins have fireplaces, while satellite television is available in most of them. Although the cabins have running water, it is drawn from wells. So, guests are encouraged to bring their own drinking water.

Whispering Cave-Hocking Hills
Whispering Cave | photo via byrnadeenxo

Discover More Things to Do in Hocking Hills Ohio

Hocking Hills is an amazing place to visit for so many reasons. Yes, you will be astounded by the natural beauty of the area, and there is a ton of it to explore. We didn’t even get to all the amazing Hocking Hills waterfalls that you can see. But, you can tailor your experience to include these too.

Whatever you decide, Hocking Hills will definitely be worth the trip!

Similar Posts