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.

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.

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.

Rocky projection from cliff

Looking up at vines dangling over the cliff’s edge

Concrete bridge on the way to Old Man’s Cave

To get to Old Man’s Cave we followed the trail under the A-frame bridge

Old Man’s Cave at last. The huge, brownish-orange rock to the left is the “ceiling” of 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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Broken rocks

More broken rocks

And still more broken rocks

Shortly afterwards we caught sight of the falls.

Broken Rock Falls

A closer look at Broken Rock Falls

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

View of the side canyon

There was a mini-boardwalk to get by some of the broken rocks.

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

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.

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

Mmm… bacon

Additional information
© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2017

14 thoughts on “The Lower Falls and Broken Rock Falls at Old Man’s Cave”

  1. Sartenada says:

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

  2. 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.

    1. Bob Platt says:

      Thanks for the identification!

  3. 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

    1. Bob Platt says:

      Its the most popular park in Ohio. Thank you melting ice age glacier! 🙂

      1. Deb Platt says:

        Bob is thanking the melting ice age glacier because the erosion from the flood of melt water produced many of the beautiful gorges in this area.

  4. Deb Marsh says:

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

    1. Bob Platt says:

      The Hocking Hills Dining Lodge is now managed by the same people that run Lake Hope Dining Lodge. The food is very tasty at both lodges.

  5. 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. 😉

    1. Bob Platt says:

      The bacon & eggs were tasty, and I thought of the fungus as a ‘mushroom’, so all was well. 🙂

  6. 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!

    1. Bob Platt says:

      Glad it’s been useful. Be sure to check our Overview of Hiking Trails in the Hocking Hills (link above).

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

    1. Bob Platt says:

      Thank you, I love waterfalls too. This time of year I like the frozen ones.

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