If you have a zest for adventure and have never explored old ghost towns, the Vinton County Rail Trail might appease your appetite. The Moonville Rail Trail (about a half hour from Ash Cave) is a work-in-progress 16-mile trail off a gravel Hope-Moonville Road near Lake Hope State Park. From a parking lot at Moonville, hikers can trek a 2.7 (one-way, out-and-back) route from the Moonville Tunnel to King Tunnel on a nice path and turn around to come back again. The old Baltimore & Ohio (originally the Marietta & Cincinnati) train path will take you through the ghost towns of Moonville with its brick tunnel, Ingham Station, and Kings Station before continuing through the wooden Kings Tunnel. Although little remains of the old mining and railroad towns, the hike across wooden bridges (rebuilt where train trestles once stood) and through the tunnels is well worth a visit. Hikers, bikers, and horseback riders use the trail.
You might even see a ghost along the way! Since the late 1800s and even into the 1980s, train engineers who took this remote route complained their train was waylaid by a white-robed figure with bulging red eyes and carrying a lantern floating down the hillside outside the Moonville Tunnel.
Parking: Designated parking near Moonville Tunnel.
McArthur, OH 45651
Trail: Hike 0.2 miles (one-way) along maintained rail-trail
path (Moonville Rail-trail). Mostly flat. Out and back.
Tunnel: (39.307244, -82.321956)
King Tunnel: 2.7 miles (one-way, out-and-back) 5.4 miles total
Moonville Tunnel is along the Vinton County Rail-Trail. The town of Moonville Station was home to just a couple of families, one owning a sawmill, gristmill, and coal mine. There was once a small train station here. Although only two families lived here, it was a hub of foot traffic activity as the train tracks were easier to follow than the roads which flooded often seasonally (and still do!).
Hikers can walk from Moonville, past Bear Hollow (above and the site of an old mining community called Ingham Station) and to King Tunnel.
Beautiful wooden trestles were put into place by the Vinton County Rail Trail Association above Hewett Fork which meanders beside and interesects the rail-trail many times along the way.
The private Sickles Preserve can be seen along the trail. This is what little remains of a busy mining town called Kings Station, once a vibrant community with a general store, row houses, school, blacksmith shop and mine.
After Kings Station, crossing a roadway and heading into Athens County, the Kings Station Tunnel looms ahead.
King Tunnel, built about 1855, by the Marietta & Cincinnati Railroad is a rare sight to see as it is made of wood. Hikers will smell the Creosote used to preserve the wood just before it comes into view.
Old Ghost Town Adventures along the Vinton County Rail 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.