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Old Man's Cave Gorge in winter
Old Man's Cave Gorge in winter Photo courtesy Hocking Hills State Park

Hocking Hills State Park: A Sparkling Gem Nestled in Southern Ohio Hills

This natural wonderland, encompassing 2,000 acres, features fern-laden paths through caves and under waterfalls. The Hocking region is characterized by massive sandstone outcroppings, deep cool gorges, towering hemlocks and glistening waterfalls. Among the areas abundant wildlife are white-tailed deer, barred owls, grouse, and an occasional bobcat that make the wooded ravines and ridgetops their home. The lush forest undergrowth contains a profusion of fern, shrubs, and wildflowers. The park has many outstanding rock formations, which include sandstone, shale, limestone, coal, clay, and conglomerate rock. The park's numerous streams are filled with sunfish, colorful darters, black-nosed dace, and lamprey.

This area was once a rendezvous area for numerous native American tribes. In the mid 1700s, the Wyandot tribe lived along the Hocking River. Pioneers began settling the area in the late 1790s. By the early 1900s, virgin woodlands of poplar, beech and oak were threatened by encroaching lumbering operations. Through the efforts of state forester Edmund Secrest, a state forest law was passed in 1915, which enabled the state to acquire areas of scenic value that would be suitable for recreation and reforestation. In 1924, the state purchased its first parcel of land for the park, which encompassed the area, Old Man's Cave. More land was purchased during the next decade. In the 1930s, the Works Progress Administration improved the park with trails, stone steps, bridges, roads and tunnels. Extensive reforestation of timbered land returned the surrounding area to its original primeval character.

The park features six separate and unique areas.

Old Man's Cave: This popular area has many hiking trails that past rapids, small waterfalls, a 40-foot waterfall, hemlock trees, cliffs, and unique rock formations.

Cedar Falls: This remote primitive chasm is laden with hemlock trees and bound by steep rock walls and accompanying grottos and waterfalls.

Ash Cave: This is the largest and most impressive feature in the park, measuring 700 feet from end to end.

Conkles Hollow: This nature preserve is a rugged, rocky gorge.

Rock House: This is the park's only true cave-a tunnel-like corridor situated midway up a 150-foot cliff.

Cantwell Cliffs: This area comprises a deep valley and steep cliffs.

Documentation comprises a text report, park booklet, photos, and a video.

Originally submitted by: Ted Strickland, Representative (6th District).

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The Local Legacies project provides a "snapshot" of American Culture as it was expressed in spring of 2000. Consequently, it is not being updated with new or revised information with the exception of "Related Website" links.

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