Last weekend, Mister, Otis, and I took off for the day to visit some of Mister’s family and let them meet our adorably furry bundle of joy. We had planned on the possibility of getting to visit Hocking Hills State Park since we were so near, but the weather didn’t act like it was going to allow it. Finally, after the last big storm blew through, the sun came out in all its glory and the doplar didn’t show anything else coming near us. We packed up the puppy, and we all took off down the road. I was especially excited since this would be my first visit to Hocking Hills after hearing so much about it. I was used to hiking at Lake Vesuvius near home, and the only time I’ve experienced hiking and caves together was the almost yearly field trip we’d take in elementary school to Carter Caves. Hocking doesn’t have the same kinds of caves though, with only one “true” cave – the Rock House – which we didn’t get a chance to visit. These are recess caves, carved out through many years of glaciers and erosion. They are full of these beautiful naturnal waterfalls, sandstone beaches, and history.
We got to visit Old Man’s Cave and Ash Cave during the few hours we were visiting the park. Ash cave is the easier walk, and is even wheelchair accessible, but I really enjoyed all of the twists and turns of Old Man’s Cave. Around every corner was a new waterfall, and I went absolutely crazy with the camera. Here’s Mister and I at what I believe are the Upper Falls of Old Man’s Cave:
There’s really so much to explore, but do be careful…there are very few handrails and plenty of slippery cliffs. Here’s Tamie and Rob investigating in a rather slippery spot:
Tamie is even working on a children’s book that is set in Hocking Hills and includes several of the park’s geographical features and native plants and wildlife. It’s an adorable tale that I can’t wait to see published!
In between the two caves we visited, we got to stop by the park’s bird conservatory, home to a gorgeous great horned owl and a one-winged red tailed hawk (hoping we can go back and learn his story!). The owl kept his eyes on our little Otis the whole time, making him rather nervous to get too close, but I think we got the perfect shots of both feathered friends.
Ash Cave has one of the most breathtaking waterfalls of the park, and the cave floor feels much like a beach, a quality Otis rather enjoyed. He left his little paw prints everywhere he could.
Otis was such a trooper all day and barely ever had to be carried. He climbed rocks, walked across fallen trees, and ended the day a muddy mess. He definitely slept the entire way home without a single complaint.
It really was a wonderful visit, and I only wish we had been able to stay longer and explore more. I’m certain we’ll be heading back soon though. Plenty more to see! I thought it was fitting though that we ended our visit by playing our hiking game of finding hearts formed in nature (our last visit to Lake Vesuvius had us finding heart shaped mushrooms and heart shaped rock openings). At the end of our visit to Hocking Hills, we spotted this heart formation. Until next time… 😉