Hocking Hills Scenic Byway
- DesignationNational Scenic Byway (2021)
- Intrinsic QualitiesRecreation
- Length26 miles
The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway takes travelers deep into the historic hills of southeast Ohio. The Byway traverses’ hills and valleys and past the six non-contiguous sites of the Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio’s natural crown jewels.
The Byway also passes historically significant sights and businesses. The scenery all along the Byway is stunning in every season. Whether looking for a lovely country drive while visiting the Hocking Hills or a more active experience along the way, the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway will exceed your expectations.
Story of the Byway
The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway leads travelers through some of the most scenic regions of the Hocking Hills. Beginning at US Highway 33 and State Route 374, the Byway winds through the Hocking State Forest, past prehistoric Native American mounds and links all six non-contiguous Hocking Hills State Park sites.
Along the Byway travelers will find sites of historic significance such as the remains of the Black CCC Camp and small family cemeteries. There is evidence of the millions of years of natural history all along the byway. This history spans the Mississippian Geologic Period from 330 million years ago to the modern-day tourism industry which has grown up around these natural wonders.
Travelers have several sites along the byway for a variety of recreational activities. Hiking is the most popular activity with well-marked and maintained trails in each of the Hocking Hills State Park sites. Additional recreation includes fishing, hunting, canoeing, kayaking, horseback riding, archery, swimming, mountain biking, rock climbing and rappelling.
The Byway accesses several recreation parks under the umbrella of Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio's most visited State Park. In 2020 trails in all the parks were reconfigured to one-way for the safety of hikers and the protection of the delicate ecosystem. The Hocking Hills State Park is the only State Park in Ohio which requires hikers to remain on the trail or risk being fined. This is for the safety of hikers as well as those responsible for rescuing hikers who have wandered off trail.
Travelers can stop at Cantwell Cliffs, known for its deep valleys and steep cliffs, and explore the northernmost park in the system. Rock House, the next park along the Byway, is the only cavernous cave in the Hocking Hills. Photographers love capturing the light as it bounces off the walls of Rock House throughout the day.
Driving the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway takes travelers in and out of the Hocking State Forest along the way. The Hocking State Forest has bridle trails, rock climbing and rappelling. Ohio's Buckeye Trail traverses the Hocking State Forest and Hocking Hills State Park.
Conkle's Hollow is a State Nature Preserve and the only park along the Byway which does not allow pets. All the other parks are pet-friendly as long as pets are leashed and their humans pick up after them. Conkle's Hollow has a gorge trail which is one of two handicap accessible trails. The more challenging rim trail takes hikers up to breathtaking views.
The Byway continues to several popular attractions. The John Glenn Astronomy Park opened in 2018 and offers weekend stargazing programs through the Park's enormous 28-inch telescope in the roll-off roof observatory. The plaza is open everyday and visitors are encouraged to bring their telescopes and explore the heavens at their leisure.
Currently under construction is the new Hocking Hills State Park Lodge. When completed in the fall of 2022 the facility will offer overnight accommodations with spectacular views, indoor and outdoor pools, restaurant, snack bar, gift shop and meeting space.
Just north of the Lodge is Old Man's Cave, the most visited site in the Hocking Hills State Park. Images of Old Man's Cave waterfalls, sandstone cave walls and rock formations have appeared in publications and website around the world. The Hocking Hills State Park Visitor Center opened in 2018. It is a state-of-the-art interpretive center with fun, hands-on exhibits to introduce new visitors to the area and all the features of the various Park sites.
The Byway continues to Cedar Falls, one of the region's most active waterfalls, and Ash Cave. Ash Cave is also a handicap accessible trail. This is a very level and short trail making it ideal for novice hikers, families with small children and anyone with mobility challenges. Ash Cave is the largest recessed cave east of the Mississippi. Hikers are rewarded with a 90' waterfall which is most active in spring and winter when it can sometimes freeze in suspended animation.
The byway takes on a new personality with each season. Winter covers the hills, gorges and rock outcroppings with a blanket of snow. Waterfalls are suspended in frozen animation as a surreal serenity encompasses the region. Spring brings wildflowers, migratory birds and a million shades of green across the landscape. Summer vacationers fill the cabins, campsites and parks enjoying the warm weather. In autumn the Hills become a canvas for Mother Nature’s brightest colors and the byway becomes a fall foliage spectacle.
Lodging, dining and shopping are also all available for travelers’ pleasure along the byway. From cozy cabins to luxury inns and lodges there are accommodations for all tastes. Fine dining, casual buffets and all-American burger joints can be enjoyed along the byway. Artist studios, gift shops and convenience stores offer everything from one-of-a-kind souvenirs to camping supplies.
The Hocking Hills Scenic Byway takes travelers deep into the historic hills of southeast Ohio. The Byway traverses hills and valleys and past the six non-contiguous sites of the Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio’s natural crown jewels.
Points of Interest
Remote location in Hocking HIlls State Park, hiking trail with views.
Trail in Hocking Hills State Park.
One of Ohio's deepest gorges.
John Glenn Astronomy Park
View the sky in day or night.
Old Man’s Cave
Cave in Hocking HIlls State Park.
Half-mile trail in Hocking Hills State Park, fairly strenuous with steps.
Cave in Hocking Hills State Park, named for large pile of ashes foundby early settlers believed to have been left from Native American campfires hundredsof years ago.
Ohio Hiker's Paradise
Driving along the Hocking Hills National Scenic Byway gives you just a glimpse of the scenic views you will enjoy while hiking in the Hocking Hills. Cabins, cottages, and eateries abound in Logan Ohio near the Hocking Hills State Park, State Forest, and the Wayne National Forest.
Visit the Hocking Hills Welcome Center and the Pencil Sharpener Museum to pick up your trail guides. Hike along the twenty-five miles of trails to Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and many more natural shelters. Climb the Ash Cave Fire Tower for a magnificent view of the hills and valleys during any season of the year.
Your visit in the Hocking Hills might not be complete without a guided kayak tour. This is the perfect spot for adventuresome families. Don’t miss the waterfalls, cliffs, gorges and rock shelters.
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