Hocking HillsWhere all the best roads lead . . .HIKE. STAY. PLAY. YOUR HOCKING HILLS ADVENTURE BEGINS HERE!

Hocking Hills State  Park - Upper Falls

Frequently Asked Questions at Hocking Hills and Hocking Hills State Park


Does the park stay open all year?

Hocking Hills State Park and its hiking areas are open all year long, 365 days a year, and even all the holidays. It is open from dawn to dusk. The park does not stay open at night due to the dangerous cliffs—vehicles must be out of the parking lots by dark. Visitors must remain on the designated trails.

The park is too crowded. What can I do?

Yes, there are many complaints about the crowds at the park. The park has no real population control and during the weekends and many weekdays, people find themselves unable to enjoy the quiet and solitude of nature. Park areas are quieter in the early week and very early mornings. There are also many other parks and recreation areas to visit- Wayne National Forest, Hock-hocking Adena Bikeway at Hocking College, Lake Alma, Vinton County Parks, Lake Hope State Park, and Clear Creek Metro Parks are all great options. Plan ahead and have a backup of hiking areas if the trails are overcrowded. Make sure you find other park trails before traveling as it can be difficult to get cell phone service in some areas of the park.

   Hocking Hills Hiking Trails  is a book offering many trails in the Hocking Hills that are less crowded and how to access permit preserves with limited use!       

How do the trail systems work?

Hocking Hills State Park trails are designed with a one-way system to ensure your safety and protect the delicate ecosystem from the millions of visitors who hike the trails each year. Most trails run near cliff areas on narrow dirt paths, making it unsafe to pass opposing foot traffic. This system also helps prevent trampling and damage to the path so that an "extra lane" is not created along the trails, thus preserving any rare and endangered plant species within the park. Trail markers indicate the direction hikers can travel, and the trails loop back to the parking lots. Visitors in wheelchairs at Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow can turn around with their guide where the asphalt trail ends, while the rest of their family/group continues on the one-way loop. It's important to remember that once you start the trail, continue the loop for everyone's safety. This is a responsibility we all share!

In the regional nature preserves, hikers must stay on the trails and no pets are allowed.


Can I swim at Old Man's Cave or at other parks?

NO! There is NO swimming or wading in Hocking Hills State Park waterfalls, creeks, or natural bodies of water, except at the designated beach area at Lake Logan and Lake Hope State Park. Swimming in the natural waterways disrupts wildlife and is dangerous because of the cliffs and rocks and other matter falling with the water from the waterfalls.

Are Hocking Hills State Park and other hiking trails free?

Yes! All of the state park and Metro Parks are free. But you must stay on the designated trail. There are no entrance fees for walking the trails or for parking. Staff-led hikes, programs, and special events are all free. Even Robbins Crossing Historical Village in Nelsonville offers free programs and even night owl prowls!

Are pets allowed at Hocking Hills State Parks?

Can I hike with my dog? Pets are allowed in the park areas, except the nature preserve, Conkle’s Hollow. They must be on a 6-foot or less leash at all times and cannot swim in the creeks or waterways. There is a zero-tolerance policy for dogs exhibiting aggressive or potentially dangerous behavior. Please remember that most areas have cliffs, steep steps, and narrow passages not suitable for pets.

Why is it called Old Man's Cave? How did Old Man's Cave get its name?

Locals named the recess cave Old Man’s Cave for a trapper named Retzler, who lived and died within the shelter along with his hound dog, Harper. The skeletal remains of the old man and dog were discovered within the recess cave and became a tourist attraction during the late 1800s and early 1900s before the remains were properly reburied. However, the exact spot of the reburial is unknown. Legends also tell the old man and his hound dog haunt the cave! The name Richard Rowe (Roe), which was once associated with Old Man’s Cave, was inaccurately given to the trapper in the 1970s-Richard Roe is a fictitious name used during legal proceedings when a male character’s identity is not known!


Are there interesting haunted places to visit in the Hocking Hills?

Of course! The Hocking Hills region is full of ghost stories, folklore, and legends.

What is special about the Hocking Hills?

The Hocking Hills offers free hiking trails for all to enjoy with beautiful trails loaded with massive cliffs, cascading waterfalls, and unique rock formations.

What major city is Hocking Hills close to?

The Hocking Hills region is close to Columbus, Ohio-the state capital. It is about 45 minutes away!

How long do you need at Hocking Hills?

Most people like to hike the 7 major hiking trails which are located in different areas of the region. A two-day stay is suggested. Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Whispering Falls, and Old Man's cave are within easy access of each other and would be perfect for the first day. On the second, travelers can explore Conkle's Hollow, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rock House!

When is the best time for Fall Colors?

It depends upon the weather and other factors. Some of the best colors are usually from the second weekend of October through the fourth.

What is the only true cave in the Hocking Hills park system?

Many believe that Rock House is the only true cave. However, it is a common misconception that Rock House is a “true cave.” It is not. A true cave is something when entered, “extends beyond the zone of light,” is eroded from underground, and is most typically formed in limestone bedrock. All the caves in the Hocking Hills have large openings, are formed in sandstone, and are more correctly defined as recess caves.

Are there wheelchair and stroller accessible trails?

Yes, Ash Cave is accessible by wheelchair/strollers as is Conkle’s Hollow, lower trail.

Can I get cell phone service at the park?

Some cell phone services are not available at the park and in remote areas of Hocking and Vinton County. There is WIFI access at the Visitor Center.

If you are booking a private cabin in the area, make sure you get a personal, off-hours phone number for the cabin owner if you get lost finding your rental. Ask for specific directions to the cabin (many cabin owners do not live in the area and will be unavailable if you arrive later in the afternoon or evening). GPS can be tricky here. There are hundreds and hundreds of private cabin rentals, and most areas of this section of southern Ohio do not have cell phone service. Park employees do not have access to personal cabin information, and local travel and visitor bureaus typically close at 5:00 p.m.

NO swimming or wading in the waterfalls or creeks

You must stay on designated trail!

And you must stay on the designated trail!

Pets must be on leash


There are seven major hiking areas in Hocking Hills State Park - All are one-way trail systems.  

Ash CaveOld Man's CaveRock House, Conkle's HollowCedar FallsCantwell Cliffs, and Whispering Cave Trail. These park areas offer a unique experience for those who walk its paths no matter what season (the park is open year-round from dawn to dusk)—located on the southern edge of Hocking County. But those are just a handful. There are many hiking trails in the Hocking Hills include those at Wayne National Forest, Clear Creek Metro Parks, Lake Hope State Park, Vinton County Park District's Moonville Tunnel, and Hocking College's Robbins Crossing (with park programs) and the Athens Hock-Hocking Adena Rail Trail bikeway.