During the Fourth of July weekend, I took my three kids plus a friend to Hocking Hills for a day trip. We packed water bottles, lunches and snacks and made the trek down US 33.
We started our loop at Cedar Falls. A handful of other visitors with expensive-looking cameras were photographing the waterfalls, so we had to navigate this respectively. Mid-summer the flow was definitely lighter, and the pool beneath was fairly shallow, so we waded through the water. The kids were psyched to spot a number of turtles.
Next on our journey was Ash Cave, the largest recess cave east of the Mississippi. It sports a horseshoe-shaped rim that is wide open with a runoff waterfall trickling down in the center. We took advantage of this feature by dunking our heads underneath to cool down.
While the first two destinations required about a mile hike in and another mile back to the car, our final stop involved a bit more steps. Old Man’s Cave consists of several falls and gorges, connected by hiking trails. After fueling up from our packed lunch, we were ready for a prolonged traverse. The kids agreed this was their favorite, as Old Man’s Cave offers unique features such as trails through tunnels and rock bridges. We posted up at the Lower Falls for a rest and additional wading.
Swimming is prohibited at all of our destinations, but I had our crew dress in their bathing suits under their hiking clothes knowing that they will inevitably get wet. I packed their water shoes in my pack, so they could change to proper footwear when the terrain called for it.
We were fortunate to be in this area when a rainstorm rolled in. We were able to get back to the Hocking Hills State Park Visitors Center just in time to wait out the heavy precipitation. You can’t bring enough towels on a trip such as this, and the rain exacerbated this notion.
I’ve been visiting Hocking Hills my entire life, but I’m hardly an expert on the region. One thing for sure: I’ve found it’s busy no matter the time of year, so expect a crowd whenever you go. My crew didn’t mind, as the excitement was high throughout our adventure. We are already planning a return voyage this fall or winter. We just scraped the surface with our day trip, so I’m curious what other landmarks others recommend for kids?
-Steve Michalovich, Regular Contributor and founder of CBUS Dads
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.