And where to see the leaf changes
Driving into the Hocking Hills Region, travelers in September and October are surrounded by the beauty of the forestland as the leaves change from the deep green of summer to the vibrant orange, yellow, and red of autumn. For those who like to stop and hike amidst these eye-candy colors, here are a couple of visits to help you get into the autumn mood!
Conkle's Hollow: Hikers taking the upper trail walk along the rim of Conkle's with many cliff views of the hills and hollows. It is recommended to wear sturdy shoes as the hike is along the edge of the cliffs!
Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve 24858 Big Pine Road, Rockbridge, OH 43149 | GPS Tracking: (39.452935, -82.572075)
Upper Trail is a one-way trail that is 2 miles long. No pets!
October 5, 2023
Rose Lake Loop Trail
Access from the Campground or Ash Cave to Cedar Falls or Fishing Access. Click here for more info!
Christmas Rocks State Nature Preserve October 17
Jacob's Ladder View (First Trail on left marked with orange arrows and blazes)
Christmas Rocks Parking 2340 Meister Rd SW, Lancaster, OH 43130 (39.639408, -82.650009)
Lake Hope State Park: October 19, 2023
Lake Hope State Park offers wonderful views across the lake of fall foliage. After, grab a bite to eat at Lake Hope State Park Lodge sitting atop a hillside with a great view of the lake and fall foliage!
Peninsula Trail along the Lake:
Parking/Trailhead: State Route 278/Lodge Road McArthur, Ohio 45651 GPS Tracking: (39.327018, -82.346700).
There is a gravel pull-off along State Route 278 just before the entrance to Lodge Road. It is a loop trail. Hikers will see one sign noting the trailhead (start or finish) on the same side of the road as the parking area.
A secondary trailhead (start or end) is also on Lodge Road's opposite side, just past the park signage. Either can be chosen for the loop.
Hike the Peninsula Trail: 2.8 miles. Loop. The trail follows the park lake proper on a fairly level, tree-lined path with some short ups and downs, then turns along a finger of the lake before passing Hope Furnace (a side trail can be taken to see the furnace up close here: (39.3324920, -82.3423918). To do so, hikers will need to walk along the roadway. After, the trail ascends slowly before working back down to the parking area.
Lake Trail Parking: (39.600306, -82.631651) Follow a trail deep into the forest and to a beautiful lake View.
Take a drive along the scenic backroads to five of the best-loved hiking trails in The Hocking Hills with Fall colors! (https://maps.app.goo.gl/aY2NnHRnJns5Uaxb9)
Conkles Hollow (Conkle's Hollow State Nature Preserve, 24858 Big Pine Rd, Rockbridge, OH 43149)
Rock House (Rock House, Laurelville, OH 43135)
Cantwell Cliffs (Cantwell Cliffs, 13540 OH-374, Rockbridge, OH 43149)
Lake Trail at Clear Creek Metro Park (Lake Trail, J929+47, Lancaster, OH 43130)
Christmas Rocks (Christmas Rocks Parking, 2340 Meister Rd SW, Lancaster, OH 43130)
Hocking State Forest Fire Tower
Parking: Chapel Ridge Road and State Route
374 39.406022, -82.530615
October 5, 2023
Three ways to visit:
Short: Park at the lot along Chapel Ridge. Take a short hike into the woods along the trail heading toward Ash Cave and follow the sign to the fire tower. Hikers who don't fear heights can climb to the top for breathtaking views.
Or Park at:
Cedar Falls: 1-mile, one-way. Out-and-back. Park at Cedar Falls in the large parking area (39.417324, -82.525646). On foot and exiting the lot, go to the left and follow the road until you see a service road trail to the left. This is part of the Grandma Gatewood Trail and leads into Division of Forestry. After crossing Chapel Hill Road, continue through the gravel forestry parking lot and to the trail which forks, the left fork goes to the firetower and is visible immediately. It is marked with a wooden sign. The right heads to Ash Cave.
Ash Cave: 1-mile, one-way. Out-and-back. Park at the Ash Cave Parking Area (39.395698, -82.545278). Follow the trail back to Ash Cave and up the stairway. Turn left at the top and continue on the rugged dirt path which will, in about one mile, pass the firetower. It is marked with a wooden sign.
What makes these rich colors?
Leaves turn green in spring and summer because of the amount of sunlight. The chlorophyll, which the tree uses to convert sunlight, water, and nutrients into food, is responsible for the green color of leaves. Chlorofil is a difficult chemical for the tree to produce, so it saves it by storing it down in the tree's roots over the winter. In the fall, when this process begins, the removal of the chlorophyll leaves behind the leaf's naturally occurring color; yellow and orange pigments are carotenoids, and reds and purples are anthocyanins. Eventually, the tree removes these pigments, and the leaves turn brown and drop from the tree in winter.
Places to hike and see the beautiful leaf changes
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.