Family reunion in Hocking Hills

June 30th - July 2nd 2008

For a family reunion, my sister rented three large cabins in Hocking Hills State park for a few days at the end of June, 2008. My mom was there, my sister Louise and her husband Joe and their daughter Laura. My sister Rose was there with her sons Kevin and Nick. My sister Lil was there with her daughters Katie and Molly. And my brother Ed was there with his wife Suz and their son Joe. A pretty good crowd.

The first thing we did (after breakfast) on the morning of the first day (June 30th) was drive to Ash Cave. The rim trail leads up and over Ash Cave, so we did that first. Then we hiked back down to the level of cave entrance and took some more photos. Technically, Ash Cave is not a cave at all, it was formed by erosion of softer rock out from beneath the hard top rock layer. In fact, only the Rock House in Hocking Hills is a true cave. Old Man's cave, Cantwell Cliffs - these are just over hanging cliffs.

The top of the cliff at Ash is 90 feet from the bottom. A small waterfall trickles down in the center. I wonder if the falls volume increases dramatically greater during the spring melt.

We explored around the cave, and then we drove off to Cedar Falls. Cedar Falls is not impressively tall, but at least there was water flowing. Hard to believe there was enough volume of water flowing to power a mill at one time, or did the settlers only grind their corn and wheat after rain storms?

At Cedar Falls we decided to split up. One group would drive over to Old Man's Cave, the other party - Melanie, Ed, Suz, Laura and I, would hike the Buckeye trail to Old Man's Cave. It is only a few miles between Cedar Falls and Old Man's Cave, so we didn't figure it would take too long. Hiking would allow us to see more of the park. We took the low route, through the bottom of the gorge. Just after we started, it began to rain, so we found an overhanging cliff to hide under. The rain was not drenching, and it soon tapered off.

Old Man's Cave is a pretty neat area. It has a network of trails over bridges, through tunnels, into caves, and up to waterfalls. A great place to explore. There is a rock formation that is supposed to look like the head of Sphinx - if you squint really hard and use your imagination; I found the Sphinx easiest to discern if I closed my eyes completely.

There are two real water falls: the Lower Falls and the Upper Falls. The Middle Falls is more like a cascade than a waterfall. One pool of water is called The Devil's Bathtub. I don't know where it got that name, perhaps it is too hard to climb out of once you get into the water, and then the Devil grabs you and drags you under.

We took the higher trail on our way back to Cedar Falls - we walked along on the top rim of the gorge. The upper trail crosses over the dam which creates Rose Lake. Back near Cedar Falls, the trail crosses the gorge on a suspension bridge.

On our second day of visiting Hocking Hills, we went to see the Rock House. The Rock House is a big cave in the side of a cliff. It once was used by Native Americans, and then for a while as a hangout for bad guys. It seemed like a wet place, and with big "window" openings in the cave walls, it would have been pretty cold and drafty. It was a fun place to visit, but glad I don't have to live there.

Just down the road is Conkle's Hollow. The Hollow is a gorge in the sandstone cliffs. The cliffs are as tall as 200 feet, but it is a bit hard to see these impressive rock walls because of the dense vegetation. First we did the trail that goes around the top of the cliffs, and then we went down the steps and took the short trail that goes right up the center of Conkle's Hollow until it reaches a thin waterfall at the end. There is a "grotto" near the end of the trail, but this is just a small cave."

For afternoon fun on the second day, we went canoeing on Lake Logan. There is a boat ramp with canoes for rent. I went canoeing with my mom, we paddled around looking for herons and water lilies. Melanie and Laura got a canoe and made a beeline for the other end of the lake. Kevin went out on his own in kayak, and he went pretty far across the lake too. Louise and Joe took another canoe and went out on their own. It was a nice day, with no wind, so it was easy to paddle around.

On the morning of our last day, we stopped at the Cantwell Cliffs. There are a bunch of hiking trails in this area, but we did not explore them all. We just hiked down to the famous Fat Woman's Squeeze (a narrow crack in a huge rock that the path inches through), and got a good look at the Cliffs. Because there is less vegetation surrounding the Cliffs, they are much easier to appreciate than Conkle's Hollow. Take a look at the photographs to see the tiny humans compared to the towering rock walls.

We got into to our cars to head home, but we wanted to make one last visit to the Natural Bridge. This is actually pretty hard to find, you have to get off onto a gravel road and drive a short distance. The first half mile of the hike looks like a private driveway in between some farmers' fields. The trail drops about a hundred feet to get down to the Natural Bridge. The Bridge is a slab of rock that once was attached to the cliff, but erosion carved out the softer stone beneath the bridge, and then a big crack fell in, separating the Natural Bridge from the original rock shelf. We walked right across it. It is hard to make out in the pictures because of all the trees, and the lack of clear sunlight.

We had lunch at Wendy's and then everyone split up and drove off. The reunion was over, but it was a fun filled three days.

Click here to view an official Hocking Hills website

All the graphics and photographs are my own, but the textured background is taken from a site, EOS development, that offers non-profit users free use of their graphics. Click below to visit their site.

Eos Development

I found the nifty java script for opening and displaying the photographs at a website called Lightbox2. I tried to make a couple of modifications to the java code, but I probably should have left it untouched for smoother functionality. Click here to visit LightBox2 site

Click on any thumbnail to open that photo a new window. Move the cursor over the new window to see PREV and NEXT buttons that will allow you to click through the photos in sequence.

Ash Cave

Cedar Falls

Old Man's Cave

The Rock House

Conkles Hollow

Lake Logan

Cantwell Cliffs

Natural Bridge