Posted in Hiking, Park review, Southeastern Ohio

Hocking State Forest: Chapel Cave

Chapel Cave is a large chapel-shaped, recess cave located off a bridle trail in the Hocking State Forest. The cave is also known as Twenty One Horses Cave because it is reputed to be big enough to hold 21 horses (with their riders).

Riders and horses just inside the entrance of Chapel Cave.




This posting is the last of a series of hikes we took starting at the parking lot for the Rock climbing and Rappelling Area of the Hocking State Forest. The trailhead for Chapel Cave is located on the north end of this parking lot. It’s a bridle trail marked with white blazes.

The trailhead is at the far end of the parking lot for the Hocking State Forest.
Follow the white blazes on the bridle trail.

We hiked to the cave in mid-September on a cool sunny weekend. There were quite a few horseback riders on the trail that day. As we were traveling on foot, the trail was muddy in places and would be very muddy in the early spring.

Steep and muddy portion of the bridle trail.
There’s a muddy bridle trail to my left and a mostly dry creek bed to my right.

The trail parallels a small creek in Long Hollow.  The hills on either side of the creek are heavily forested with hemlock and in some places beech trees.  Exposed rock outcroppings add to the scenery of the trail.

An arrow encourages people to cross the creek bed to the right; it was dry when we went through.
Deb reaching for her camera.
Conifers and a rock outcropping to the right.
Green and leafy portion of the trail. Hard to believe these will all be changing color in a month.
Mushroom by the trail.

After about a mile, we noticed a large outcropping overlooking a side hollow.  The trail splits here (though it’s not clearly marked) and heads up the side hollow towards a box canyon.

There’s an invisible fork in the trail here, but only the white blazes leading you onward in the valley are obvious.. However if you start going up hill toward the cliffs, you’ll see blazes this way, too. The cave is in these cliffs.
Start heading up.
Getting closer — stay on the right.
Cliffs viewed from the right.

Shortly after the trail began running parallel to the rock outcropping, we were able to see the opening into Chapel Cave. As we reached the cave, we noted that it was already occupied. A group of three riders were in the cave on their horses. With a high ceiling the cave is big enough to ride a horse into without dismounting. We exchanged greetings and the riders told us they’d been to Table Top Rock (also known as Balanced Rock) earlier in the day. Together with Airplane Rock and Indian Head Rock, Hocking State Forest is their favorite place for horseback riding. I can see why!

Riding away
Everyone’s gone now

After they left, we explored the cave. For a sandstone recess cave, it was quite tall and went back a ways, but the entrance is easily visible from anywhere in the cave.

We ate our lunch on a nearby rock ledge and returned. From our vantage point we were looking across a ravine. It turns out that there is another trail that goes up these hills on that side. If you’d like you can hike up on that side and view the cave from farther away.

About midway up the hill on the other side of the ravine is another trail.
Looking down the ravine.

On the way back we spoke to a group on horseback, and learned that the box canyon containing Chapel Cave has a seasonal waterfall at one end in the spring time.

The total distance for the hike was about one and three-quarters mile (round trip).

Additional information




Location


View Larger Map

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2012 to 2017

11 thoughts on “Hocking State Forest: Chapel Cave

  1. We walked the trail to the cave in Sept. 2016. We had brought along the info you had on your website to help us find the cave. When we came to the arrow we turned to the direction the arrow pointed. That wasn’t right. Just keep walking straight down the trail, no turns. Soon to your left up the hillside you will see the a fence in front of the rock cliffs that the cave is in. Well, worth the walk to it. Short easy hike. There are no signs showing the way so follow directions from TrekOhio. Thanks Enjoyed seeing the cave very much. Would be pretty muddy trail in wet weather.

    1. Most of the caves in Ohio are recess caves. We plan to visit an Ohio limestone cavern, perhaps later this year. I googled ‘Florida’ and ‘caverns’ and found Florida Caverns State Park which contains limestone caverns.

      1. There are *many* caves in Florida, in the northern part of the state… But reaching them from our depths is like visiting another state entirely. 🙂 The park you’re referring to is actually near the Alabama border!

    1. This cave was way bigger that I was expecting. It was very cool seeing the horseback riders there. It gave a sense of scale. And hats off to the gentleman in the cowboy hat. He’s 83 years old and still actively enjoying the out-of-doors.

Leave a Reply

You have to agree to the comment policy.

Complete the following sentence by typing either real or spam:
My comment is ...