Hocking Hills, Ohio-Lima News

Lake Hope, Ohio — I’ve been kayaking many times since my first whitewater paddle at the Pennsylvania State University Outing Club at University. But it wasn’t magical until it was pushed into the 120-acre Hope Lake in Zaleski State Forest.

As dusk approached, the only sound that broke the silence was a chorus of paddles and crickets submerged in water. As my husband and I guided the lily sea in search of the beaver, the sun gradually disappeared behind the forested hills, leaving only the silhouette of a tree against the backdrop of the starry sky. The only light came from the glow of the moon sliver and the red safety light on the bow.

It was a little creepy, but it was thrilling.

“It’s another kind of sensory experience at night,” said Mimi Morrison of our pilot, Touch the Earth Adventures, when we departed. She was at risk if she wasn’t right. We were less than 200 miles away from home, but it felt like we were in another world.

I came to southeastern Ohio and visited Hocking Hills State Park, one of the state’s most scenic and popular attractions. Hocking Hills State Park is a staggering 2,000-acre rock formation carved by a glacier of Blackhand sandstone millions of years ago. It didn’t take long to figure out why 4 million visitors come each year.

Only in the northern part of the state, I always thought Ohio was one of the flattest places on the planet. The Appalachian hills, which separate farmland from America’s oldest mountains, are actually full of towering cliffs, waterfalls, and canyons filled with hemlock. There is also a cave share.

One of the most famous rockhouses has a 25-foot ceiling and seven arched “windows” separated by huge pillars of sturdy stone, extending about 200 feet in both directions. For thousands of years, it protected Native Americans cooked in small ovens carved into the rock walls. Robbers, bandits and murderers also hid there in the 19th century and are said to have been given the nickname “Robbery Robbery”.

It’s a thrilling place to get back to nature. Especially in autumn, the air in the forest is clear and the leaves turn into bright shades of red and yellow. (Peak color is expected from mid-October to late October.) If you rush from site to site on the weekends, you will be exhausted. If possible, please wait a few more days. The Hocking Hills region boasts over 10,000 acres of uninterrupted forest filled with miles of trails, and thanks to its diverse vegetation, hikers and pedestrians as well as bird watching and plant lovers. It also benefits the home.

Hocking Hills State Park alone has seven major hiking areas with color-coded one-way trails leading to the park’s main attractions. If you get there about 4 hours drive from Pittsburgh, you’ll want to go to all of them. Cyclists will also find more than 50 miles of difficult mountain bike trails, from simple to “holy.” Everything is open all year round, from dusk to dawn.

After checking in to a rustic cabin in the woods, I only had 36 hours to explore the area on foot, bike or kayak, so I only scratched the surface.

Our adventure began with a simple half-mile hike to the park’s popular Old Man’s Cave. The visitor center was off the map, so we just chased the crowd into the woods. Since it was Saturday, Grandma’s Gatewood Trail was crowded, thinning when she hit the first stairs, and then hit a short but striking rocky ledge with no railings.

The trail loops back 1.5 miles to the visitor center past a waterfall, a deep bowl-shaped riverbed known for its devil’s tub, and an A-frame bridge over a canyon. Old Man’s Cave is named after a hermit who seems to have lived (and died) in the hinterland in the early 1800s. Wanting to explore, I followed the teenager’s lead and crawl through the recessed opening looking for bones.

My feet were warm enough to continue the Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave. One of the park’s new locations (opened in 2017), it is the region’s second-largest cave, spanning nearly 300 feet and seasonally spilling 105 feet of waterfalls from the top edge. A set of steep wooden stairs puts you in its indentation, and the road allows you to take a closer look at the sandstone honeycomb weathering.

If you go the other way, you’ll reach Cedar Falls, the park’s most voluminous waterfall. The next day, I decided to walk a little on the stairs from the parking lot to see it. We also drove to the Rockhouse and hiked a mile from the shelter to the dramatic opening. There was a huge tunnel-like corridor in the middle of the 150-foot cliff, so it was easy to get off, but I couldn’t go back.

I came across John Glenn Astronomical Park by chance. With the exception of the interactive sundial, there isn’t much to see in the sun. But at night, it’s a great place to see the stars through the giant 28-inch telescope at the Roll-Off Roof Observatory. (Free guided astronomical observations on weekends were interrupted during the pandemic.)

Due to lack of both time and energy, I missed Kantwell Cliff on the north side of the park and Ash Cave, the park’s marquee attraction. Next time, I promised to replenish a pint of stellar IPA at the 33 outdoor beer gardens at the brewery. The gourmet pepperoni pie ordered from Logan’s Pizza Crossing was also very popular.

The next morning, I rode a 15-mile bike along the Hook Hooking Adena Bikeway in bed on the old Columbus and Hooking Valley Railroads in Nelsonville. The first few miles are nothing special, but once you pass through Hooking College and into the woods, it’s great. The 21-mile trail is named after a member of the Shawnee tribe who named the Hocking River, the first inhabitant of the area. They actually called it “hook hooking”. This means a bottleneck, which refers to the twisted shape of the river.

Of particular interest is Robins Crossing, a fully restored 1850s life history village on the edge of the campus. Blacksmithing and basket weaving classes and other events are held throughout the year, and students often demonstrate frontier toys, games, and Appalachia crafts.

Nelsonville is a place where you can take the Hooking Valley scenic railroad with three outdoor cars converted from old freight cars. Autumn leaves rides run from Thursday to Sunday throughout October.

The day also included a short drive around Lake Logan. Lake Logan offers seasonal boating, swimming, fishing and hiking throughout the year.

A friend recommended a short drive to Laurelville to check out Jack Pines Studios, famous for its blown glass pumpkins, ornaments and vases. But when I found a Zimbo burger in South Blue Minton, a late lunch seemed like a better option. The $ 7 hoagies weren’t disappointed.

After a short break in our hut in the woods, we headed south to the adjacent Lake Hope in Vinton County for a paddle at night.

I was planning to arrive early. The country road shortcut not only lost us desperately, but was delayed by nearly 30 minutes without a mobile phone service to apologize. Our late arrival did not seem to offend Morrison, who spent his life hiking these forests and rowing lakes and rivers. The Touch the Earth Adventures guide met us with a simple smile and instantly energized our spirit with her apparent passion for water.

“You want a treat.” She was enthusiastic as we wore life jackets and carried the kayak to the concrete slipway.

Rowing through the lake, traversing hundreds of millions of water lilies, Morrison looks back on his history, with an osprey sitting on a wooden hook, a beaver lodge made of mud and sticks, and a hillside. I pointed out rare trees. Just before the light went out, she brought us closer to the coastline and provided us with an insect repellent spray and chamomile tea from a thermos. It was a very new age, but after spending the day on the go, I was surprisingly relaxed.

The artificial lake covers the former mining village Hope, which disappeared when Big Sandy Creek was dammed in the 1930s. Morrison began leading travel almost 20 years ago to encourage people, especially women, to build deeper relationships with the planet we share.

“When the darkness comes down across a quiet lake, my senses awaken,” she says of a night excursion on the lake.

She also offers educational kayaking trips for bird watching and stargazers, allowing visitors to make full moon and sunrise trips for the same purpose of connecting with Mother Nature.

Leaving town the next morning, we benefited from a meditative experience of forests and water. Despite myalgia, we both felt refreshed and recharged. As Morrison wrote in an email when he got home:

“When I hear someone’s deep sigh as they see the stars fall from the sky … I see that my mission has been fulfilled.”

Hocking Hills State Park

directions: Hocking Hills State Park is approximately 3.5 hours from Pittsburgh, primarily on the highway.

Eat, drink and be cheerful. Hocking Hills isn’t always a culinary destination, but Cedar Falls’ Inn & Spa has a fine dining restaurant, and the Hocking Hills Coffee Emporium has great coffee, breakfast, and lunch. We also drank live wine at Hocking Hills Winery, sampled local beer at Brewery 33, ate a great Pizza Crossing pizza, and ate authentic tacos at Maya Burrito in Logan.

Banking down: What is your style? The area has everything from rural inns, small homes, yurts and geodomes to rustic and charming cabins (some with hot tubs) in the woods that sleep everywhere from small groups to crowds. Logan also has several cheap hotels and motels. If you want to be rough, the state has a campground near Old Man’s Cave, which has cabins and campgrounds.

Activity: Was it full of hikes? Other outdoor activities include horse riding, golf, rappelling, kayaking, biking, and seasonal zipline canopy tours. The children’s area is home to the world’s largest family rope course, starry sky observations at John Glenn Astronomical Park, paintball fields, petting zoos, the eccentric Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpening Museum, and visitors to the Hooking Hills area. Has 3,400 pencil sharpeners. center. There are also several gift shops and antique shops in the area, including the famous Jack Pine Glass Studio in Laurel Building.

calm down: Most attractions are not within walking distance of each other, and winding country roads require low speeds. The night is also very dark. So it takes longer than you think to go anywhere.

Visitor information: or 1-800-462-5464.

Old Mans Cave Upper Falls in Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

A unique cave, Rockhouse is located in Hocking Hills, Ohio.

A magical combination of rocks, water and forests — especially in the fall

Hocking Hills, Ohio-Lima News

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