Hocking Hills State Park
Old Man’s Cave
Last month there was another family road trip that I was a part of, this time to southeast Ohio to the Hocking Hills area. We booked a cabin there a little late, so we missed the peak of the autumn color season- the bookings fill up fast, so we’ll try to book earlier in the future!
Ohio may seem to be a state of flat farmland in popular imagination, and that is partially correct- the western half of the state (including where I live in central Ohio) is flat farmland. But the eastern half of the state is hilly, and the southeastern area is actually a unique part of the Appalachian Mountain Plateau. This area is very distinct with its own unique geologic features. To briefly quote Wikipedia:
The Hocking Hills is a deeply dissected area of the Allegheny Plateau in Ohio, primarily in Hocking County, that features cliffs, gorges, rock shelters, and waterfalls. The relatively extreme topography in this area is due to the Blackhand Sandstone (so named because of Native American graphics on the formation near Newark, Ohio), a particular formation that is thick, hard and weather-resistant, and so forms high cliffs and narrow, deep gorges.
Having grown up in the flat country of central Ohio, I was unfamiliar with such terrain that was a mere 90 minutes away by car. This was a weekend I was looking forward to!
This is the first of 3 posts about that scenic weekend. The weather was sunny and highs were in the low-to-mid 50 degree F. range, which is good for November in Ohio.
Being the shutterbug that I am, I couldn’t resist taking pictures on the drive there.
The drive started out a little misty
This odd photo has a story behind it! 🙂
The highway cut through steep hills
The backroads were even more interesting
We arrived at Hocking Hills State Park, in Hocking County. There are two features that a traveler immediately notices about this very scenic area- steep rocky hills abound, and wild evergreen trees are far more common than in the western half of Ohio’s Oak-Hickory and Maple forest areas. The area saw glacial activity in the last Ice Age, and lots of sandstone was carved out by the tremendous amounts of water that melted from the ice, leaving interesting rock formations. Trees much more common in Canada (such as the Eastern Hemlock) were left behind by the retreating glaciers 15,000 years ago in the cool moist gorges where their descendents live today. Some of the trees in steep remote areas are thought to be 400 to 500 years old. The area has many sites of interest to see, and we managed to go to 3 major places this particular weekend.
Our cabin was pleasant, at the edge of a wooded ravine
Pine trees were prominent in the cabin area
This Tufted Titmouse paused to pose for the camera
Old Man’s Cave was not far away- it is a famous attraction in the park
Old Man’s Cave is truly like visiting another world…I’d not seen Ohio looking like this before
From the very start, the view was fascinating- but watch your step!
Ferns were prominent in the gorge- the humidity was noticeably higher
Trees were very tenacious at taking root in the stony soil
The trees were definitely older-growth
There were some tunnel-like passages through the sandstone
The rocky overhang was impressive
A closer look at the upper reaches of a Hemlock tree
The view from the ridge above
It was like visiting a lost world, and in certain ways, it was!
Two more posts are coming, stay tuned!