Posted in Hiking, Park visit

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

More on Hocking Hills State Park

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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

  1. 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.

  2. 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. 😉

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