Day trip to Hocking Hills!
Last week I had an off day in which the weather report called for rain all day. Knowing that there already had been quite a bit of rain and that the streams and rivers were high I was thinking that the waterfalls in the Hocking Hills would be flowing nicely! Combined with the thought of rain and clouds I thought it would be the perfect day to make a trek about an hour south of Columbus Ohio to the Hocking Hills State Park in search of Waterfalls! I set my alarm for 5am, packed up my camera equipment, grabbed my new Mudder Boots and took off for a morning of hiking and shooting in and around the Park.
My first stop was at Robinson Falls; also known as Corkscrew Falls, located about 6 miles East of Logan Ohio. Until just a few years ago, Corkscrew Falls sat deep within private land, inaccessible to the public. Today, however, the waterfall is part of the 607-Acre Boch Hollow Nature Preserve and can be viewed by anyone who wishes to see it. However, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources still requires you obtain a permit (albeit free) before visiting, as the area's ecosystem is quite fragile. You can apply for that permit here: http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/permits I find this area to be somewhat magical, unlike other areas in the Hocking Hills, the waterfall although not as large as the others has cut through the rocks in a way that creates a place of mystique and wonder. This is one of my favorite Waterfalls!
The rains also made for many runoff falls down and along the hillsides. I was able to capture this one as well. I have been here many times but this is the first time I saw this water falling from the roadside above down to the stream below.
After a quick trip to Robinson Falls I headed to Ash Cave. Ash Cave allows for a very quick and easy hike to the cave area where the horseshoe-shaped cave is massive; measuring 700 feet from end to end, 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge with the rim rising 90 feet high. A small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek cascades over the rim into a small plunge pool below. The cave was formed like the others in this region; the middle layer of the Blackhand has been weathered or eroded while the more resistant upper and lower zones have remained intact.
Ash Cave is named after the huge pile of ashes found under the shelter by early settlers. The largest pile was recorded as being 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The source of the ashes is unknown but is believed to be from Indian campfires built up over hundreds of years. One other belief is that the Indians were smelting silver or lead from the rocks. Still another theory claims that saltpeter was made in the cave. No matter the source, several thousand bushels of ashes were found. A test excavation of the ashes in 1877 revealed sticks, arrows, stalks of coarse grasses, animal bones in great variety, bits of pottery, flints and corn cobs.
From Ash Cave I drove a short distance to Cedar Falls. This is home to both Cedar Falls and another of my favorite falls (when the waters are high) Hidden Falls. Hidden Falls adjacent to Cedar Falls and is hidden behind a few very large rocks. On this day however the waters were rampant and there was no hiding these falls! Cedar Falls itself is the greatest waterfall in terms of volume in the Hocking region. Queer Creek tumbles over the face of the Blackhand sandstone displaying the awesome force of water power.
On to Old Man’s Cave, the Upper Falls and Devils Bathtub. The most popular of all the Hocking areas is Old Man's Cave. The Old Man's Cave area can be divided into five principal sections found along the valley of Old Man's Creek. In order, they are: Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. Along the length of the trail the magnificent gorge cuts through the entire 150-foot thickness of the Blackhand sandstone. Carved by the creek, the gorge serves as an avenue for visitors to peer into the earth's subsurface. The full distance of the gorge is approximately one half mile.
On to Long Hollow Falls and Chapel Cave. About a mile east of Conkles Hollow is a Horse Path that treks back into the hillside that will take you to Chapel Cave, Long Hollow Falls and Airplane Rock. The stream was high and the path muddy. I would not have made it through this hike dry if it were not for the new boots I bought the previous night. I hiked about 2 miles round trip and encountered what for me was a new find in the Hocking Hills. Again the stream was high and the runoff waters made for some great images and memories. The 80 foot drop of Long Hollow Falls was also impressive. Dryer days would not have provided the water needed for this Falls to display its inspiring splendor.
Although, the rain soaked me and carrying my equipment around the 4 ½ miles I trekked wore me out. The 6 hours I spent that morning made for an incredible day. The rain kept people away and in all my stops I only encountered 1 other car at any of the parking lots and never saw another person. It was just me, my camera, rain and the grandiose visions of water cutting through rocks over centuries that provide a sense of how powerful and inspiring the art nature creates can be!
some text taken from https://www.hockinghills.com/parks.html and http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/bochhollow