Natural Wanders: Hocking Hills — caves, cliffs, and there’s so much more

Art Weber

        Ohio’s Hocking Hills is ready for visitors. Actually it has been for quite some time, with some appropriate concessions to Covid-19, of course.
        The appeal starts with notion that we’re all tired of being cooped up. Then factor in the incredible and unique landscape of the Hills that features huge sandstone cliffs, gaping recess caves, deep gorges, and scenic waterfalls with a labyrinth of beautiful trails that enables you to explore it all. Popular destinations include Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs, and Conkles Hollow. Now there’s John Glenn Astronomy Park near the state park cabins.
        And there’s so much more.
        If you like to drive winding roller coaster roads you’ll love the Hills.
        If you love hidden gems then the Hills are for you, too. Natural gems from rock formations to giant hemlocks and beautiful streams are around every corner. On top of that there’s a healthy dose of great accommodations of all kinds, often coupled with fine dining and other amenities like hot tubs and spas.
        Then there are the heritage crafts.
One of the best is found off the beaten path outside the city of Logan. Across the road from a great old barn and next to a towering log-cabin style home is a low red building labelled, simply, “Blacksmith.” It’s not quite the iconic blacksmith shop that sits beneath the spreading chestnut tree, but there are a couple of sizable non-chestnut trees out front.
         The special stuff is inside where Doug Lockhart applies his 40 years of experience to doing incredible things, including the Lockhart’s own brand of forged top-grade sought-after skillets. Check them out in the gift shop, along with a host of other hand-made forged items. If you want to witness blacksmiths in action, call ahead to make arrangements.
        “We do some amazing things here,” he said. And he’s not kidding.
        Then there’s Jack Pine Studios near Laurelville where a team of skilled glassblowers create a wide range of products working in front of a bank of furnaces where, even in these Covid days, you can safely watch them at work, as well as visit an extensive gift shop full of hand-made items..
        “We’re especially known for our hand-blown glass pumpkins,” Jack Pine said. Nationally known, that is.
        Then there’s the Columbus Washboard Company where, when Covid restrictions ease, you can arrange for a tour of the nation’s only factory for hand-made washboards. And, yes, there’s still a healthy demand for washboards and not just in the Amish community and for off-grid families. For example, the company actively seeks donations to help with its program to provide washboards to active military on overseas assignments where modern laundry facilities aren’t readily available. And, of course, for musicians who love the unique sound the washboard adds to their tunes.
        For the more adventurous there and canoe and kayak – both guided excursions and rentals – along with some of the region’s best zip lines and rappelliing opportunities.
There isn’t a bad time to visit Ohio’s Hocking Hills Region. It’s always beautiful, always special, unlike anything else in Ohio.
Fall is wonderful. The colors can be spectacular and the weather visitor-friendly. Be aware there’s heavy demand for accommodations so make your plans and reservations in advance. And, if you love waterfalls, there’s a good chance there won’t be much water flowing this time of year.
If you wait until winter waterfalls often cascade freely, giant icicles hang like stalactites on the walls of sandstone gorges, and, after snowfalls, the landscape looks like a winter wonderland with branches and boughs etched in white.
        It can be truly magical. Any time of the year.
        For more information start with For specifics on destinations mentioned choose among,, and


The Press

The Press
1550 Woodville Road
Millbury, OH 43447

(419) 836-2221

Email Us

Facebook Twitter

Ohio News Media Association