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.
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 State Park trails are set up with a one-way system so that hikers can practice safe social distancing while visiting. Signs mark the trail showing which direction hikers can travel, and they loop back to the parking lots. For those in wheelchairs at Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow, they may turn around with their guide where the asphalt trail ends, while other members of their family/group continue on the one-way loop. And nope, everybody else, you can't just turn around if you decide you don't want to go farthur. If you start the trail, continue the loop for the safety of all!
In the regional nature preserves, hikers must stay on the trails and no pets are allowed.
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.
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. Naturalist-led hikes, programs, and special events are all free. Even Robbins Crossing Historical Village in Nelsonville offers free programs and even night owl prowls!
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.
Legends state locals named the recess cave of Old Man’s Cave for a trapper by the name of Retzler who lived and died within the shelter along with his hound dog. The bodies of the old man and dog were found and reburied, but the exact spot is unknown. Legends also tell the old man and his hound dog haunt the cave!
It depends upon the weather and other factors. Some of the best colors are usually from the second weekend of October through the fourth.
Yes, Ash Cave is accessible by wheelchair/strollers as is Conkle’s Hollow, lower trail.
Most 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.
You must stay on designated trail!
There are seven major hiking areas in Hocking Hills State Park - All are one-way trail systems.
Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave, Rock House, Conkle's Hollow, Cedar Falls, Cantwell 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.