Each of the parks listed in the first chapter have clearly marked and designated trails for hiking and picnic shelters
for having a snack or a meal. I have a listing of trail maps for these parks [CLICK HERE]. This map will give you a general locations of the six state parks in Hocking County:Hocking Hills State Park Map. Each park is open during day light hours and has no admission price.
Forty miles of trails through the Hocking State Forest are designated as bridle trails. From the Hocking State Forest’s Horseman’s Camp there are trails blazed in orange, red, and purple that guide riders through the surrounding woodlands. [Bridle Trail Map]
The Annual Winter Hike
Every year on the third weekend in January an annual pilgrimage of hikers come to the Hocking Hills to hike the six mile Grandma Gatewood’s Trail. The trail begins at Old Man’s Cave State Park and ends at Ash Cave State Park where a bus will transport you back you your car at Old Man’s Cave. You can start walking the trail any time from between 9 – 11 am. More details are at my blog post: http://tinyurl.com/njkku95
More Hocking Hills Hiking
Forty miles of trails through the Hocking State Forest are designated as bridle trails. From the Hocking State Forest’s Horseman’s Camp there are trails blazed in orange, red, and purple that guide riders through the surrounding woodlands.
Tip: Bridle trails can also be hiked on, too. Just make sure you give the horses the right of way when they pass by.
You can park your car at the day-use parking lot at the Hocking Hills Horse Camp to access the bridle trails for hiking. Do not park in the camp area as they are for horse owners only. Hike only on the trails marked with orange, red, purple and white markers. Privately owned liveries are available for those who do not own their own horse and want to ride a horse in the Hocking Hills.
Backpacking on Wildcat Hollow Trail
The Wildcat Hollow Trail is a 15 mile scenic trail in the Wayne National Forest that covers ridge tops, stream bottoms and meadows while viewing white pines, rock croppings and the natural flora and fauna of the forest.
Bird watchers will need to bring their binoculars.
Wildlife is abundant which includes snakes so be sure to watch your step.
The following are some special guidelines for hikers:
Camping is permitted anywhere on National Forest land. No special permit is required for backpacking or campfires.
Small portable stoves are suggested instead of campfires. If unavoidable, follow these safety precautions when building campfires in the forest:
Select a site on level ground away from heavy brush, logs or overhanging pines.
Burn only dead trees or fallen branches.
Use extra caution on windy days.
Clean the ground down to the soil, removing grass, leaves and other flammable material.
Circle the fire ring with rocks.
Keep water near in case the flames spread.
Never leave the fire unattended and make sure to put it out before you leave.
Drown the ashes with water and stir with soil.
Return the stones and leave the area as you found it.
If you smoke cigarettes, use a flat rock or soil as your ashtray and crush out smoke before you resume hiking.
The Buckeye Trail
The Buckeye Trail Association is a non-profit Corporation formed in 1959 to provide a long distance hiking trail that connects the four corners of Ohio. The trail covers 40 of Ohio’s 88 counties following old canal tow paths, abandoned railroad rights of way, rivers, lake shores and flat farm lands. It passes through forests, state and local parks, small towns and urban areas.
The trail has blue blazes that mark the trail. They are 2″ x 6″ vertical markings on trees and utility poles every few hundred feet along the trail. Where the trail changes direction it is well marked. Side and alternate trails use white marks.
Of the 1200 miles of trails throughout the state of Ohio, the Buckeye Trail enters Hocking County south of Ash Cave, passes through Cedar Falls and Old Man’s Cave following Grandma Gatewood’s Trail. It continues north through scenic and sometimes rugged terrain and forest land. In 1967 it was recognized as the State Trail of Ohio. Recently it was chosen to be a part of the North Country National Scenic Trail.
Camping is permitted at designated campsites. These are not frequent enough to allow backpackers to camp beside the trail every night. On some parts of the trail horseback riding is permitted. Bicyclists may use the trail where it follows public roads and local bike paths.
The Buckeye Trail is supported by a group of dedicated volunteers. The trail is mapped in sections each covering about 50 miles. Waterproof section maps show each trail route and public roads and nearby towns. A trail log is included that lists campsites, water sources, special places of interest, available parking sites and local emergency numbers.
If you would like to obtain more information about maps and an order form, write to: The Buckeye Trail Association, PO Box 254, Worthington, Ohio 43085 or call 1-800-881-3062 or 330-340-3824. Or check out their website at www.buckeyetrail.org .Every year they have a Trailfest. That year it was held in the Hocking Hills and I attended. Read about it here.
Please STAY ON THE TRAILS. Getting off the trails can and often does result in injury and death especially if one gets too close to the side of a cliff. In many of the areas of the Hocking Hills there is no cell phone service and rescue crews have a difficult time reaching people as the area is so remote. So please be safe rather than sorry!
There have been some very bad accidents in the Hocking Hills when people get off the trails.
The Hocking Hills Tourism Association came up with ten reasons to stay on the trails. They are meant to be humorous and encourage hikers to stay on the designated trail:
- Getting lost in the woods will make you late for you spa appointment.
- You can’t go in the hot tub with a cast on your leg.
- There are better ways to see the Hocking Hills from the air than by Medevac.
- We can’t guarantee the ranger that rescues you will be a hottie.
- Get up close and personal with animals at the Columbus Zoo, not because your foot is wedged in rocks and you can’t move.
- If you fall to the bottom of a ravine there’s a good chance critters will relieve themselves on you.
- You can’t zipline with your arm in a sling.
- The Hocking Valley Community Hospital is lovely but the rooms do not come with hot tubs.
- If your new bride “disappears” from the trail there’s a good chance she will be the lead story on the evening news and not in a good way.
- You will really upset our park rangers.
All kidding aside, your safety is the number one reason to stay on the trails. Getting off the trails can lead to serious if not fatal mistakes that could be avoided if one just remains on the designated trails. That way you can go home and tell everyone what a GREAT time you had in the Hocking Hills.
Excerpt from “The Best Kept Secrets of the Hocking Hills” guidebook.
Copyright 2016 Terri Baker