This post was updated on 8/24/2015.
Ohio has dozens and dozens of state parks. These range from parks along Lake Erie to parks deep in the forest to parks filled with giant mossy boulders and waterfalls.
Each park is of course unique in its own way. But, if I had to choose just one Ohio state park to visit for the rest of my life, it would have to be Hocking Hills State Park.
You'll find Hocking Hills in Hocking County in southeastern Ohio, near the small town of Logan. The park itself covers 2,373 acres, and draws people because of its excellent hiking and accessible natural features like caves, cliffs and waterfalls.
Hocking Hills State Park definitely deserves at least a weekend to explore fully, and here are a few things you should be sure to do there.
Hocking Hills has six main hiking areas, with most of them centered around natural sandstone rock formations. The most popular hike is to Ash Cave, a giant recess cave with a small waterfall tumbling over it. The hike to Ash Cave is only about half a mile long and is along a paved trail, making it accessible for nearly everyone.
Another popular hike is Old Man's Cave, which has about a mile of trails that connect to other trails in the park. The highlights here include Old Man's Cave itself (another large recess cave), as well as a few waterfalls and bridges. My favorite scenic spot is the pool below Upper Falls, where a small waterfall flows through an arched stone bridge.
I've already mentioned Upper Falls and the small waterfall at Ash Cave, but there are other waterfalls within Hocking Hills State Park that are popular, too. The most popular is Cedar Falls, which can be reached by an offshoot of the Old Man's Cave trail. In the summer months, it's not uncommon for hikers to kick off their shoes here to go swimming in the waterfall - however I'm not sure that this is 100% legal in state parks, so swim with caution.
You'll only find hiking and mountain biking trails within the state park. But if you're in for a little more adventure, you only have to drive a few miles away to find Hocking Hills Canopy Tours. They offer a variety of zip lining tours to suit the whole family, from their DragonFly kid's course to the X-Tour, which includes a zip into a recess cave. If you're feeling especially brave, you can tackle the SuperZip, where you'll fly through the trees at more than 50 miles per hour.
There are a variety of campsites in Hocking Hills State Park, and many visitors choose to pitch a tent or bring a camper van for the weekend. But for the true Hocking Hills experience, you'll need to rent a cabin in the woods. Cabin rentals can be found throughout the county, many within a few miles' drive from the best hiking trails. Most will come fully equipped with a kitchen and barbecue or fire pit, and the good ones will have a hot tub out on the back porch so you can properly unwind and enjoy the nature.
If you're looking for a place to disconnect and get closer to nature in Ohio, you don't need to look any further than the Hocking Hills State Park!
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Graduate student by day and avid traveler and blogger by night (and on weekends and during holidays), Amanda is just a small-town Ohio girl trying to balance a "normal" life with a desire to discover the world beyond her Midwest bubble. Amanda's adventurous nature and inability to say "no" have led her to some pretty amazing adventures all around the world. But she has no desire to stop exploring anytime soon. Read Amanda's blog, A Dangerous Business, or follow her on Facebook, Twitter or Google Plus.
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