8 Spectacular Hocking Hills Waterfalls to See This Year
You may not know this, but Ohio has a large number of gorgeous waterfalls trickling throughout the state. And, the Hocking Hills waterfalls are some of the most fantastic!
In fact, the Hocking Hills area is home to some of the tallest waterfalls in Ohio, not to mention so much other breathtaking scenery — cliffs, gorges, caves, woodlands, wildflowers, and more.
Read on to learn more about Hocking Hills waterfalls, what makes them unique, and how you can visit them!
Old Man’s Cave Falls
Located on State Route 664
The path to Old Man’s Cave is one of the main trails in Hocking Hills State Park. The stunning, about half-mile gorge near the cave cuts completely through 150 feet of Blackhand sandstone, cascading into beautiful falls and pooling in the Devil’s Bathtub.
To access this waterfall, you can take a couple of paths. Regardless, there is a fairly strenuous hike involved. And, the area is divided into five main sections:
- Upper Falls
- Upper Gorge
- Middle Falls
- Lower Falls
- Lower Gorge
If you’re curious about its history, Old Man’s Cave is named after hermit Richard Rowe. He lived in the gorge’s large recess cave beginning in the 1790s and is said to be buried underneath the main ledge.
Additionally, the 6-mile Grandma Gatewood Trail begins at the Upper Falls. It connects Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave.
Broken Rock Falls
Located just past Old Man’s Cave
This is a lesser-known gem of the Hocking Hills waterfalls. Many don’t know about it and turn around after passing the Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave.
If you go a bit further and up some steps, though, you’ll find a narrow but tall and fascinating waterfall that flows through an enormous crack in the cliff. The trail is an easy, 1-mile loop. It’s best to visit during early spring or late winter.
Big Spring Hollow Falls
Trail starts off Big Pine Road
Off the beaten path in Hocking State Forest, you’ll find a stunning waterfall that’s around 120 feet high — Ohio’s tallest waterfall.
The falls are fairly easy to access by hiking a beginner-friendly, out-and-back trail of just 1.2 miles. Take a seat on one of the many rocks near the bottom of the falls, and enjoy the peaceful scenery.
Plan your visit for when there’s been recent snowmelt or rainfall for the best experience. Optimal times to visit are from February through November.
Near the falls, you can also rock climb and rappel. Adventurers of all levels can join a trek to rock climb and/or rappel the waterfall. Lead trek guides are certified by the American Mountain Guides Association, so you can also learn about local wildlife and ecology.
Ash Cave Falls
Located off of SR 56 in the southernmost portion of the park
The waterfall at Ash Cave is another of the tallest waterfalls in Ohio, reaching a height of 90 feet. The waterfall is surrounded by Ash Cave (the biggest recess cave in Ohio), woodlands, hemlocks, and a narrow gorge.
You can quickly access the falls by hiking an easy, half-mile loop. The trail is paved for about the first half of the loop, making it accessible for those with wheelchairs, mobility devices, and strollers. Ash Cave also connects with Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave on the longer Grandma Gatewood Trail.
Tip: The falls flow well after heavy rain, so plan accordingly to see the waterfall. It’s best to visit from April through October.
Even if the waterfall isn’t flowing when you visit, Ash Cave is still well worth the trip. The horseshoe-shaped cave is 700 feet wide by 100 feet deep and 90 feet tall at the rim.
Located off of SR 374
Cedar Falls has the greatest volume of water among the many Hocking Hills waterfalls. Queer Creek flows strongly over the sandstone cliffs. A grist mill was even built there in the mid-1800s to utilize the power of the falls.
The waterfall gets its name from early settlers, who believed that the area’s hemlocks were cedar. Aside from the captivating falls, the hemlock-filled chasm is surrounded by tall rock walls and grottos. It’s one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Ohio.
You can hike to Cedar Falls via an easy, half-mile loop trail. You can also take the previously mentioned Grandma Gatewood Trail that connects with Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave.
Art at Cedar Falls: Democracy Steps, designed by artist Akio Hizume, is a set of stairs that lead to the waterfall and reflect the principles of the Fibonacci sequence and the Penrose lattice.
Cantwell Cliffs Falls
Located on SR 374
The Cantwell Cliffs is in a more remote area of the park, but it is well worth traveling to. The area is one of the most beautiful in this Ohio state park.
The seasonal waterfall at Cantwell Cliffs is generally a smaller one, but it’s 80 feet high and flows over a recess cave. There are also steep cliffs featuring concretions — where iron oxide colors the sandstone a deep burgundy — rock shelters, and valleys.
To visit the falls, hikers can follow a moderate loop trail that’s just under 1 mile long. The trail features some climbs and steep descents. Visit in March through November and after heavy rain and/or snowmelt for the best experience.
Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve Waterfall
Located on SR 374 off of Big Pine Road
The Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve features one of Ohio’s deepest gorges of rock. The surrounding cliffs reach heights of 200 feet! The floor is blanketed in flowers and ferns, while birch, hemlock, and other trees reach overhead.
There is a relatively easy out-and-back trail of just over 1 mile that you can hike to access the seasonal waterfalls in Conkle’s Hollow — one is 25 feet tall and the other is about 100 feet.
Much of this lovely, scenic trail is paved, making it mostly accessible. A small portion at the end is unpaved, and it’s best to visit from April through November.
More daring, experienced hikers can follow a trail up to the rim, which surrounds the gorge from the tallest cliffs in the area.
No dogs are allowed in Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve.
Whispering Cave Falls
Loop trail starts near Hocking Hills State Park Visitor Center
The views at Whispering Cave are impressive. Highlights include a 100-foot-tall cascading waterfall that flows over a massive, 300-foot-wide recess cave.
To access Whispering Falls, you can follow one of Hocking Hills’ newest trails, which is geared a bit more toward the experienced hiker. The trail has some steep inclines and declines, but it is only 0.8 miles long.
If you’re looking for a longer hike where you can also connect with another of the Hocking Hills waterfalls, the Whispering Cave-Cedar Falls Loop may be a great option. It is a moderate, nearly 6-mile loop that features Whispering Cave and Whispering Falls, Cedar Falls, direct views of Rose Lake, forest scenery, wildlife, and more.
Also nearby: Don’t miss the beautiful waterfall at Rose Lake. There isn’t an official trail to access the falls, but they’re not far off the Grandma Gatewood Trail.
FAQs About Hocking Hills Waterfalls
How much does it cost to visit Hocking Hills waterfalls?
Nothing! All of the state parks in Ohio, including Hocking Hills, are free to visit.
Are any of the Hocking Hills waterfalls wheelchair accessible?
In the Hocking Hills area, portions of the trails at Conkle’s Hollow and Ash Cave are accessible.
Can I bring my dog with me while hiking to Hocking Hills waterfalls?
Leashed dogs are allowed in Ohio state parks, but owners are urged to heed caution on trails that include cliffs, such as on the Old Man’s Cave trail. No pets are allowed in Ohio state nature preserves, including Conkle’s Hollow.
Can I swim in the Hocking Hills waterfalls areas?
No, swimming is not permitted in any of the waterfall areas, creeks, or ponds within Hocking Hills State Park.
Can I visit the Hocking Hills waterfalls at any time of day?
No, but the park is open all day until dusk. Hocking Hills’ naturalist program sometimes includes night hikes during the summer. There is also lodging in the area if you’re planning to spend multiple days at the park.
Where can I discover more waterfalls in Ohio?
Rooted in Ohio also has a comprehensive guide on where you can find some of the best waterfalls in Ohio. These waterfalls are organized by location, so you can easily plan your next Ohio road trip without missing one of Ohio’s beautiful waterfalls.
Exploring Hocking Hills Waterfalls & More
If you’re new to trekking the Ohio outdoors and discovering stunning waterfalls in Ohio, the Hocking Hills region is a fantastic place to start. There is an abundance of Hocking Hills waterfalls worth visiting, especially during the rainy season and after the snowmelt.