The Lower Falls and Broken Rock Falls at Old Man’s Cave

We visited the Hocking Hills State Park in July to view a couple of the park’s waterfalls: Broken Rock Falls and the Lower Falls. We scheduled our hike on a sunny day following a rainy spell, so we hoped that lots of water would be flowing over the falls.

Hocking Hills Lower Falls
Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills State Park

To get to these falls we passed by Old Man’s Cave, one of the park’s most famous attractions. The trail to all of these attractions passes through a scenic gorge.

Hocking Hills trail map showing Lower Falls and Broken Rock Falls Excerpt of trail map showing the location of Lower Falls (middle) and Broken Rock Falls (lower left). The yellow line shows the trails that we took to reach Broken Rock Falls.

Below are some of the sights that we took in on the way to Old Man’s Cave.

Hocking Hills: Rocky protuberance from the cliff Rocky projection from cliff.
Hocking Hills: Vines hanging from cliff Looking up at vines dangling over the cliff’s edge.
Hocking Hills: Bridge on the way to Old Man's Cave Concrete bridge on the way to Old Man’s Cave.
Hocking Hills: A-frame bridge To get to Old Man’s Cave we followed the trail under the A-frame bridge.
Hocking Hills: Old Man's Cave Old Man’s Cave at last. The huge, brownish-orange rock to the left is the “ceiling” of Old Man’s Cave.
Hocking Hills: Old Man's Cave We continued past Old Man’s Cave without crossing over to view it. The brownish-orange ceiling of the cave is still visible through the trees as we proceeded onward.

If you cross the stone bridge pictured above, the trail crosses the gorge and goes up and through Old Man’s Cave. However if like us you want to go to Lower Falls skip the bridge and stay on the side of the gorge opposite Old Man’s Cave. This trail is known as Grandma Gatewood’s Trail. After passing by Old Man’s Cave, we turned around and took the photo above. Below is a photo showing a bit of the trail between Old Man’s Cave and Lower Falls.

Hocking Hills: Cliffs Me following the trail beside the cliff.

Midway through our hike we reached Lower Falls. It is pictured in the topmost photo of this post, but here are a couple, closer photos of the falls.

Hocking Hills: Lower Falls Lower Falls
Hocking Hills: Top of the Lower Falls The top portion of Lower Falls.

Next we continued on toward Broken Rock Falls. To do so we finally had to cross over to the other side of the gorge via a stone bridge. Portions of the trail were narrow and overgrown with nettles on both sides. But there was some more pleasant vegetation, too, like this Hosta that apparently escaped from someone’s yard and went on an adventure.

Flowers: Hosta ventricosa Hosta ventricosa living the wild life in the Hocking Hills.

The micro-climate inside the gorge is a friendly place for many ferns. Below is one of many wood fern that we passed on the way to Broken Rock Falls.

Dryopteris intermedia Intermediate wood fern (Dryopteris intermedia).

As we went onward, the trail soon curved round a bend and revealed a small canyon to the right. Stone steps in serious disrepair rose up from the gorge floor on one side of the canyon. We went up them.

As we continued hiking up the side canyon, it soon became apparent how this falls got its name because the canyon was full of large, broken rock. It wasn’t long until we could hear the sound of falling water.

Hocking Hills: broken rocks
Broken rocks
Hocking Hills: Broken Rocks
More broken rocks
Hocking Hills: broken rocks And still more broken rocks

Shortly afterwards we caught sight of the falls.

Hocking Hills: Broken Rock Falls Broken Rock Falls.
Hocking Hills falls A closer look at Broken Rock Falls.

After soaking up the scenery, we headed back out of the side canyon.

Hocking Hills: Trail View of the side canyon.
Hocking Hills: Small boardwalk to get through rough terrain There was a mini-boardwalk to get by some of the broken rocks.

Here’s an interesting fungus that was growing in the area.

Fungus: unidentified Unidentified, red fungus growing on a log; it was one of many.

After enjoying our hike and the two falls, we returned to the parking lot. We didn’t retrace our steps, but instead stayed on the same side of the gorge as Old Man’s Cave. However this time we followed a trail back that was above the cave. To go this route you have to climb a lot of wooden stairs to get up on the rim. While we were on the steps, Deb looked back and took the photo below.

Hocking Hills: Cliffs View from the stairs.

Once we got back to the parking lot, we drove to the nearby Dining Lodge of the Hocking Hills State Park where we concluded our visit over a nice brunch.

Hocking Hills Dining Lodge Hocking Hills Dining Lodge
Hocking Hills: Breakfast at the Dining Lodge
Mmm… bacon.

Additional Information

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and TrekOhio.com 2014
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14 Responses to The Lower Falls and Broken Rock Falls at Old Man’s Cave

  1. Beautiful photos! I love waterfalls…looks like you had a perfect day!

  2. kalkal55 says:

    Your blog has been such a great resource in planning out trip to the Hocking Hills region! Keep up the great work and amazing pictures!

  3. janechese says:

    What a pretty spot, the type of place that I love even if it feels a little claustrophobic at times. I too love waterfalls. I think I would have enjoyed the bacon and eggs more had I not seen the fungus first. ;)

  4. Deb Marsh says:

    Beautiful post! Looks like a nice lunch–the food is very good there!

  5. beckarooney says:

    This looks like such a magical place to be! Would love to visit some day :) and I wouldn’t just go for the food! lol x

  6. Ian Adams says:

    The mushroom is the Hemlock Varnish Shelf (Ganoderma tsugae), also known in the Orient as the Reishi mushroom, and used there to treat a variety of inflammatory conditions.

  7. Sartenada says:

    Rocks and falls inspire me very much, thus this post is lovely.

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