The 2,000 acres of Hocking Hill State Park consists of six separate areas, each unique in its own way. The most popular of these areas is Old Man's Cave, located adjacent to the large campground.
The area of Old Man's Cave consists of a half-mile gorge carved by a creek through the 150 foot thickness of Blackhand sandstone. The gorge begins at Upper Falls and trails lead through Upper Gorge, past Middle Falls, Lower Falls to Lower Gorge. At the base of Middle Falls is the recess known as Old Man's Cave.
I arrived on a busy Saturday, and waited until after 6 p.m. to find a spot in the 3-tiered parking area.
My goal this first evening was to see Old Man's Cave.
The cave derives its name from the hermit who came here in the early 1800s, lived out his life here with his two hunting dogs, and is believed to be buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave.
Stone steps, built by the CCC, descend into the gorge.
Looking down into the gorge.
All the scenic features of the park have been carved into Blackhand sandstone by natural erosion and weathering. The upper and lower zones are firmly cemented and very resistant to weathering while the middle zone is loosely cemented and easily eroded. The many rock shelters, caves, and recesses occur in this middle zone.
Mom was taking a picture of this boy ignoring the warning about climbing on rocks.
The upper zone forms the roof of all overhangs, and the lower zone forms the shelter floors.
Water is the primary erosion agent responsible for all these forms, along with freezing and thawing and wind.
Looking out from the recess of Old Man's Cave.
The trail goes down here. Thistle was not at all sure he liked this place, and I had to encourage him along the whole way. I left him home on subsequent hikes.
What part of "Do Not Cross" didn't they understand? There is a $100 fine for those who are caught and ticketed by the rangers.
He's also on the wrong side of the "Do Not Cross" sign.
The trail goes through a tunnel here.
Pretty late afternoon light coming through the trees.
Middle Falls….there is more water in Spring and Fall, and a frozen waterfall in Winter.
Most of the people in this picture are off trail. Remember the "No wading" sign?
Trees seeking footholds around the boulders.
Many trail options.
This is part of the Grandma Gatewood Trail that leads to Lower Falls. Emma "Grandma" Gatewood is famous for hiking the Appalachian Trail 3 times…the first time at the age of 67. I'm 67, hmmm. She volunteered here, leading large groups of hikers on this 6-mile trail.
We will follow the trail on the other side of the creek, back to the parking lot.
Where the tunnel comes out.
Following the creek.
Crossing the creek.
The high bridge is part of the Gorge Overlook Trail.
Coming out of the gorge we come upon this newlywed couple posing for pictures.
Anybody's pictures, lol.
The next day I hiked the trails to Upper and Lower Falls, but that's another post.