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.
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.
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.
As we approached the trailhead, a naturalist with a rescued Barred Owl greeted hikers as we passed by.
The trails leads people around the rim of a gorge into which the Upper Falls pours.
Devil’s Bathtub and Cliffs
Here are some of the sights on the way to Old Man’s Cave.
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.
From there we crossed the A-Frame Bridge. The trail then leads towards Rose Lake.
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.
Park official have built new restroom facilities near Cedar Falls. The ice sculpture below was placed in front of the new facilities.
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.
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.
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.
And we got to see one more owl before departing.
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
According to the Facebook Page for Ohio State Parks, more than 4500 people participated in the hike.
- An Overview of Hiking Trails in the Hocking Hills
- Ohio Winter Hike Calendar — We update this calendar every December; it lists organized hikes all over Ohio that will take place the following January and February.
- Gearing Up For Ohio Winter Hiking Season
- Hocking County Parks & Nature Preserves
Hocking Hills Winter Hike from Other Years