5 Great Winter Hikes in Hocking Hills

High above the rim trail at Conkels Hollow Nature Preserve.

High above the rim trail at Conkels Hollow Nature Preserve.

Hocking Hills is a state park in Ohio that is located just 45 minutes away from Columbus.
For me it's my most frequented hiking spot each year because of its location, I believe I went hiking or kayaking there 6 or 7 times in 2017.  It's also an amazingly beautiful and unique area of the country and could be a National Park in my eyes.
All seasons are great ones to be out on the trails in Hocking County but winter is probably my favorite because of the way the ice forms around the caves.
In today's blog I share some of my favorite winter wonderland hikes and pics that I've captured in Hocking Hills!

5.  Old Man's Cave.  Those icecycles!!  This is the tourist trap of Hocking Hills but for good reason.  It's the biggest cave in the state park and it's pretty easy for people to see at least some of it. Winter though puts Old Man's Cave at its best with jaw dropping ice formations.  But be careful on those stairs headed down to the cave! Length: 0.25 to 3 miles depending on how you wander Elevation: Stairs up and down out of the cave, very minimal. Parking: Parking lot right off of OH 664.

5. Old Man's Cave.
Those icecycles!!  This is the tourist trap of Hocking Hills but for good reason.  It's the biggest cave in the state park and it's pretty easy for people to see at least some of it.
Winter though puts Old Man's Cave at its best with jaw dropping ice formations.  But be careful on those stairs headed down to the cave!
Length: 0.25 to 3 miles depending on how you wander
Elevation: Stairs up and down out of the cave, very minimal.
Parking: Parking lot right off of OH 664.

4. Cedar Falls is a beautiful waterfall, easy trek down to see, and freezes over like this in the winter. It's over 50 feet high and you can combine it with a trip on the Buckeye Trail to Rose Lake/Old Man's Cave or the Grandma Gatewood Trail up to Ash Cave. Length: About 1 mile to the falls and back from Cedar Falls parking lot. Elevation: A few hundred feet on the way back up. Parking: Cedar Falls lot.

4. Cedar Falls is a beautiful waterfall, easy trek down to see, and freezes over like this in the winter.
It's over 50 feet high and you can combine it with a trip on the Buckeye Trail to Rose Lake/Old Man's Cave or the Grandma Gatewood Trail up to Ash Cave.
Length: About 1 mile to the falls and back from Cedar Falls parking lot.
Elevation: A few hundred feet on the way back up.
Parking: Cedar Falls lot.

Old Man's Cave is getting chilly!

Old Man's Cave is getting chilly!

3. Whispering Cave. This makes number three because it's the newest hike in the Hocking Hills system. It can be combined in loop with the Hemlock Bridge Trail or on its own.  I just did it for the first time on New Year's Eve and the cave is stunning. It's a slick trail in the winter so be careful! Length: 1.5 Miles RT Elevation: 400 feet Parking: Whispering Cave Lot (Formally where the Hocking Hills lodge was located prior to burning down in 2016.)

3. Whispering Cave.
This makes number three because it's the newest hike in the Hocking Hills system.
It can be combined in loop with the Hemlock Bridge Trail or on its own.  I just did it for the first time on New Year's Eve and the cave is stunning.
It's a slick trail in the winter so be careful!
Length: 1.5 Miles RT
Elevation: 400 feet
Parking: Whispering Cave Lot (Formally where the Hocking Hills lodge was located prior to burning down in 2016.)

Inside Whispering Cave.

Inside Whispering Cave.

2. Chapel Cave and Horse Trail Drive a mile past Conkles Hollow coming from 664 and park on your left at the rock climbing and rappel area.  Walk .75 miles to the end of the horse trail (follow the white markers) and some seasons you might see a waterfall trickle. But in the winter you get treated to this! Then on the way back hang a left up the railing to Chapel Cave and enjoy a quiet afternoon inside this off the beaten path cave.  I had this trail all to myself on a chilly New Year's Day! Length: 2 Miles RT Elevation: Flat except 100 feet or so up to Chapel Cave Parking: Rock climbing and rappel area lot on 374.

2. Chapel Cave and Horse Trail
Drive a mile past Conkles Hollow coming from 664 and park on your left at the rock climbing and rappel area.  Walk .75 miles to the end of the horse trail (follow the white markers) and some seasons you might see a waterfall trickle. But in the winter you get treated to this!
Then on the way back hang a left up the railing to Chapel Cave and enjoy a quiet afternoon inside this off the beaten path cave.  I had this trail all to myself on a chilly New Year's Day!
Length: 2 Miles RT
Elevation: Flat except 100 feet or so up to Chapel Cave
Parking: Rock climbing and rappel area lot on 374.

Chapel Cave from the inside looking out!

Chapel Cave from the inside looking out!

1. Conkels Hollow Nature Preserve Rim and Gorge Trail. This is number one because it's the best hike in Hocking Hills in my opinion any season.  Including winter! HOWEVER...be very careful if you venture on the rim trail.  It's dangerous with ice and I'd recommend hiking boots, tons of experience on the trail in other seasons, and hiking poles. It's an amazing hike combining the rim and gorge trail and it takes my top spot. Length: 3.5 Miles for Rim and Gorge Elevation: 300 feet ish on Rim Trail Parking: Conkels Hollow Parking Lot

1. Conkels Hollow Nature Preserve Rim and Gorge Trail.
This is number one because it's the best hike in Hocking Hills in my opinion any season.  Including winter!
HOWEVER...be very careful if you venture on the rim trail.  It's dangerous with ice and I'd recommend hiking boots, tons of experience on the trail in other seasons, and hiking poles.
It's an amazing hike combining the rim and gorge trail and it takes my top spot.
Length: 3.5 Miles for Rim and Gorge
Elevation: 300 feet ish on Rim Trail
Parking: Conkels Hollow Parking Lot

More jaw dropping ice inside the hollow!

More jaw dropping ice inside the hollow!

Don't forget to stop and eat while you do all this hiking!

Don't forget to stop and eat while you do all this hiking!

Hope you enjoyed the journey through Hocking Hills with me.
IF you are planning a trip and have some questions put a comment below and I'm happy to help out. If you live in Central Ohio and want to go hiking and happy hour'ing with us on January 21st RSVP HERE!

Because Adventure Travel Feeds the Soul,
Mike R and the Hashtag59 Team

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