Posted in Annual event, Hiking, Southeastern Ohio

53rd Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike, January 2018

We participated in the 53rd Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike on Saturday. This was our eighth time participating in this winter hike that runs from Old Man’s Cave to Rose Lake, Cedar Falls, and ends at Ash Cave for a total distance of 6.5 miles. A bus returns participants to the starting point.

Ash Cave

The weather for the winter hike was perfect, there was a nice base of snow throughout the Hocking Hills. Weather for the prior few weeks had varied above and below freezing creating huge icicles. The day of the hike it was partly sunny with temperatures rising into the 40’s by the hike’s end. The hike was very well attended, one ODNR naturalist told me that they had completely filled all the parking areas for the hike.

People traveled from all over the state and from neighboring states to attend the hike. One contingent of hikers had arrived by bus from Toronto, Canada. Hikers enjoyed the splendor of the winter wonderland created by the snow, ice, and scenery. A festive atmosphere pervaded the halfway point at Cedar Falls, where hikers took a break to enjoy navy bean soup, cornbread, and hot chocolate provided (for a small donation) by the Logan Kiwanis Club.

The tour guide for the Canadian hikers wore a Canadian flag.

Here’s what we saw during the hike.

Starting at the Upper Falls

We arrived a bit early and waited with other hikers for the hike to begin.

Waiting for the hike to begin

As we approached the trailhead, a naturalist with a rescued Barred Owl greeted hikers as we passed by.

Naturalist with Barred Owl

The trails leads people around the rim of a gorge into which the Upper Falls pours.

Looking over the rim at hikers photographing the falls
The Upper Falls
Devil’s Bathtub and Cliffs

Here are some of the sights on the way to Old Man’s Cave.

Looking over bridge into the Devil’s Bathtub; it must be a cold day in hell
Hikers going by icy cliff
Icy cliff
Crossing concrete bridge under the A-frame bridge
Old Man’s Cave
An ice column draped from the rim of a cliff opposite to Old Man’s Cave
Old Man’s Cave
Looking out from Old Man’s Cave
Naturalist’s Cabin and A-Frame Bridge

After passing through Old Man’s Cave, we climbed the stairs back to the rim. Once there we passed the Naturalist’s Cabin which had a fire to warm hikers.

Hikers warming themselves around a fire near the Naturalist’s Cabin

From there we crossed the A-Frame Bridge. The trail then leads towards Rose Lake.

Crossing the A-Frame Bridge
Looking down from the A-frame bridge
Rose Lake
Hikers climbing the hill toward Rose Lake
Rose Lake
Suspension Bridge
The suspension bridge

At the top of the suspension bridge is a silhouette of “the Sphynx”, a rock formation that is actually located near Old Man’s Cave.

Cedar Falls
Cedar Falls

Park official have built new restroom facilities near Cedar Falls. The ice sculpture below was placed in front of the new facilities.

Ice sculpture of a deer
Fire Tower
Fire Tower

Smokey the Bear was hanging out near the Fire Tower; many people were having their photo taken with him. He was more than willing to strike a pose for the paparazzi.

Smokey the Bear
Hikers on the way from the fire tower to Ash Cave
Ash Cave

This is the last, big attraction of the hike. When weather conditions are right, a huge ice cone forms on the ground from a drizzling water fall.

Ash Cave
Looking out at the ice cone from underneath Ash Cave

After Ash Cave, we waited in line for the bus that would take us back to our parking lot. A naturalist was displaying another rescued owl to those in line.

Great Horned Owl

And we got to see one more owl before departing.

And ice sculpture of a great horned owl
Thanks to Volunteers and Staff

Once again our thanks to the ODNR staff and the many volunteers that worked hard to make this year’s hike a success.

The Hiking Route
Trace of our hike starting near the top at Old Man’s Cave and ending at the bottom near Ash Cave

According to the Facebook Page for Ohio State Parks, more than 4500 people participated in the hike.

Additional information

Hocking Hills Winter Hike from Other Years

© Deborah Platt, Robert Platt and 2012 to 2021

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