Three Hocking Hills Sites to Reopen June 15


Modified trails will help visitors stay safe and follow COVID-19 guidelines (May 22)


COLUMBUS, Ohio — The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is making a number of modifications to the popular Hocking Hills State Park trails system to better accommodate social distancing. Trails scheduled to open on June 15 include Cantwell Cliffs and Rock House at the state park. The park’s most beloved trail, Old Man’s Cave, will reopen later this summer along with other Hocking Hills State Park sites.


“Visitors are attracted to rugged beauty of the Hocking Hills region, but some of the features that draw hikers also make it difficult for them to practice safe social distancing,” said Glen Cobb, chief of ODNR’s Division of Parks and Watercraft. “Our top priority is the safety of our visitors, staff and first responders, and we believe the modifications will make trail use safer.”


ODNR will re-route trails and direct hikers to one-way travel, where the landscape permits trail modification. One-way trails have the added benefit of protecting the delicate ecological systems in the area. Visitors will be asked to park in only designated parking spots, and when parking lots are full, the area will be temporarily closed until space becomes available.


Hocking State Forest is also opening several recreational features including the horse camp, Airplane Rock, and the bridle trails north of the rappelling area (Unger Rd.) on June 15. The bridle trails south of the rappelling area and the fire tower parking area will remain closed for the time being.


ODNR will continue to work on addressing trail modifications at Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Whispering Cave, as trails are similarly revised to enable one-way travel. The park’s campground and cabin areas will reopen later this summer along with the remainder of the park. We will take new reservations for the campground and cabin areas with an arrival date of July 15 or later. All reservations for arrivals through June 30 will automatically be canceled, and a full refund issued to the original form of payment, if possible. If we are unable to refund to the original form of payment, then an Ohio State Parks e-gift card will be issued to use on a future reservation. 

 

  • Follow CDC’s guidance on personal hygiene prior to heading to trails — wash hands, carry hand sanitizer, do not use trails if you have symptoms, cover your mouth and nose when coughing or sneezing, etc.
  • Observe at all times CDC’s minimum recommended social distancing of six feet from other people. Practice it and know what it looks like. Keep it as you walk, bike or hike.
  • Warn other trail users of your presence and as you pass to allow proper distance and step off trails to allow others to pass, keeping minimum recommended distances at all times. Signal your presence with your voice, bell or horn.
  • Note that trail users may find public restrooms closed — be prepared before you leave and time outings so that you are not dependent on public restrooms.
  • Bring water or drinks — public drinking fountains may be disabled and should not be used, even if operable. It is important that hikers on state forest backpack trails take their own water or filtration system because backpack trail water tanks will not be refilled at this time.
  • Bring a suitable trash bag. Leave no trash, take everything out to protect workers.

 

For more information on COVID-19 and ODH’s recommendations on prevention and preparation, please visit coronavirus.ohio.gov.