Hocking Hills State Park
|Hocking Hills State Park|
IUCN category V (protected landscape/seascape)
Devil's Bathtub in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio.
|Location||Hocking County, Ohio, USA|
|Nearest city||Logan, Ohio|
|Area||Land: 2,356 acres (953 ha)
Water: 17 acres (6.9 ha)
|Governing body||Ohio Department of Natural Resources|
Hocking Hills State Park is a non-contiguous state park in the Hocking Hills region of Hocking County, Ohio, United States; it is contiguous with the Hocking State Forest. Within the park are several spectacular features based around rock formations, including Old Man's Cave, a narrow, deep gorge featuring waterfalls; Rock House, a cliffed area with a rock shelter; Cantwell Cliffs, a broad gorge at the head of a hollow with a unique stone stairway; and Ash Cave, a large rock shelter with a small waterfall, and Cedar Falls, a larger waterfall south of Old Man's Cave.
The park is in five separate sections: Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Cantwell Cliffs, and Rock House.
The name, Hocking Hills
Hocking County was named after the Hockhocking River. Hockhocking, in the Delaware tongue, signifies a bottle. In Shawnee, Wea-tha-Kagh-Qua-sepe, meant bottle river. The Hockhocking River had a waterfall of nearly 20 feet located about 6 or 7 miles northwest of Lancaster. Above the falls, the creek was very narrow and straight, forming the "bottle" neck.
The Hockhocking enters the county from Good Hope Township in the northwest and then flows southwest, touches Marion Township, continues through Falls and Green Townships, and exits the county through northwestern Starr Township. The river is then in Athens County.
History of the Park
More than 330 million years ago, the Hocking Hills State Park area was relatively level and was covered by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean. For millions of years, the ocean’s currents deposited immense amounts of sand and gravel. After millions of years, the ocean receded, and the sandy layers bonded with silica to form the Black Hand Sandstone that underlies the area. It formed like a sandwich, with a hard top and bottom and a soft middle layer. When the Appalachian Mountains arose, form and feature were cast upon the area and created Hocking Hills State Park.
Hocking Hills State Park was hemmed in by the ancient north-flowing Teahs River to the west, and the then north-flowing Hocking to the east. The landscape remained fairly static for millions of years. Any changes were minuscule, and were slow to develop. When the Wisconsin Glacier began melting back to the north about 10,000 years ago, the landscape would undergo dramatic changes. The glacier stopped in northern Hocking County, so the area suffered indescribable flooding. The ancient Teahs River was buried under tons of glacial silt, and the direction of the Hocking River was reversed.
When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The "slump rocks" in the gorges today are what’s left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today. Early settlers in Muskingum County found an ancient black human handprint on a cliff that is part of this same sandstone formation. That is the same "Black Hand Sandstone" that is seen in six areas of the Hocking Hills State Park.
There are about 200 campsites in the park, most equipped with electricity. The campground is close to all of the hiking trails in the area and has flush toilets, shower houses with hot water, vending machines, a camp store, a pool, and other amenities. The area also has many cabins and hotels in this area. The guest lodge lacks lodging but has a restaurant, a snack bar, a pool, and a game room.
The area is very popular with tourists, and collectively is known as the Hocking Hills Region. It features many private inns, campgrounds, cabins, restaurants, and other related businesses, including a recently developed zipline. Other attractions include:
- Nature Preserves and State Parks: Nearby are also other attractions of the Hocking Hills, including Hocking State Forest, Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, Lake Logan State Park, and Rockbridge State Nature Preserve. The deep gorges and high cliffs result from the erosion-resistant Blackhand Sandstone, which extends well to the northeast of the Hocking Hills. Other open-space areas have been established within the range of the Blackhand, including Lake Katharine State Nature Preserve.
- Lakes: Lake Logan in Hocking Hills State Park covers 400 acres, 320 acres of which is dry land, and is two miles long. The lake was built in 1955 for recreational purposes and offers visitors hiking, boating, picnicking and swimming.
- Canoeing and kayaking are popular activities in the Hocking Hills 
- Boating: Canoeing, kayaking and rafting are all allowed on various places in the state park.
- Rock Climbing and Rappelling: Ninety-nine acres of forest land have been set aside for rock clim bing and rappelling in Hocking State Forest.
- Swimming: Lake Logan and Rose Lake offer swimming and beaches for visitors. There is also a swimming pool open to the public outside of the Hocking Hills State Park lodge.
- Hunting and fishing: Hunting and fishing are permitted as regulated by the Division of Wildlife. With permits, visitors are allowed to hunt during hunting season. Fishing is permitted in Lake Logan, which can include a variety of fish such as bluegill, crappie, bass, saugeye and catfish.
- Bird Watching: Hocking Valley Birding Trail identifies opportunities for bird watchers to enjoy the avian life in Hocking Hills.
- Archery: The Hocking Hills State Park offers a free archery range.
- Air Tours: Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours offers airplane rides with views of the State Park.
- Horseback Riding: Hocking Hills State Park provides horseback riding trails that share space with both hiking trails and hunting areas.
- Train Rides: The trains of the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway provide visitors a glimpse into the transportation and industrial history of the Hocking Hills area.
- Weddings: Some individuals have chosen to use the State Park as their outdoor wedding ceremony location.
- Canopy Tours: Nearby the State Park is Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, an outdoor zipline tour that offers three different rides: a SuperZip, Nightflight and traditional canopy tour. The Hocking Hills region was recently named the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest.
There are numerous hiking trails, including several safe for pets, located throughout the national park. Some trails in Hocking Hills State Park include:
- Old Man’s Cave: 1 mile
- Ash Cave Gorge: ¼ mile, wheelchair accessible
- Ash Cave Rim: ½ mile
- Cedar Falls: ½ mile
- Rock House: 1 mile
- Cantwell Cliffs: 1 mile
- Conkle’s Hollow: 1 mile
- Conkle’s Hollow Rim: 2½ miles
- Buckeye Trail: Cedar Falls – Ash Cave: 3 miles, Old Man’s Cave – Cedar Falls: 3 miles
In popular culture
Many of the adventures in Jeff Smith's comic book series, Bone, take place in Old Man's Cave, a place inspired by the Hocking Hills State Park, which Smith enjoyed since was a child. The waterfalls of the park also influenced Smith's frequent use of water as a recurring visual element in Bone, calling it "an age-old storytelling symbol".
Other public lands
As noted, Hocking Hills State Park is embedded within the Hocking State Forest. Crane Hollow Nature Preserve, a private preserve, fills in a large part of the non-public area. On the south side, Camp Oti-Okwa, owned by Big Brothers-Big Sisters, is also a sizeable protected area. There are three state nature preserves within the Forest, but only Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve is open to the public. Also nearby are Clear Creek Metro Park, Lake Logan State Park, and Rockbridge State Nature Preserve.
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- "Lake Logan". Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
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- "Hocking Hills State Park". Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hunting and Fishing Regulations". Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hocking Valley Birding Trail". Hocking Valley Birding Trail. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "ODNR Division of Wildlife - Shooting Resources". Ohio Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours". Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Horseback Riding". Heart of Hocking. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hocking Valley Scenic Railway". Hocking Valley Scenic Railway. Retrieved 2013-11-07.
- "Hocking Hills Weddings". Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hocking Hills Canopy Tours". Hocking Hills Canopy tours. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Hocking Hills, Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest". Discover Ohio. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- "Bring Your Pets to Hocking Hills For Some Four-Legged Fun". Hocking Hills Tourism Association. Retrieved 2012-06-24.
- Ken Mills (Director) (July 21, 2009). The Cartoonist: Jeff Smith, BONE and the Changing Face of Comics (Documentary). Mills James Productions.
- Hocking Hills State Park at Ohio Department of Natural Resources
- Hocking Hills at American Byways
- Hocking Hills at Hocking Hills Tourism Association
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