Trailhead Adventures

Depending on the time of year and recent weather conditions, Hocking Hills can have anywhere from seven to fifteen active waterfalls. This is includes my top five favorite waterfalls to photograph when visiting Hocking Hills State Park in southeastern Ohio. Each waterfall can be reached after a short hike.

5 – Broken Rock Falls

Hikers typically skip this hidden gem of a waterfall located near Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave. I don’t know if its because the trail to Broken Rock Falls is located at the end of the Old Man’s Cave hike and people are tired or if the close proximity to Lower Falls satisfies their desire to see waterfalls, but during my most recent visit to the area I counted just five hikers out of over a hundred who made the short hike to Broken Rock Falls. To reach Broken Rock Falls, proceed towards the exit near Lower Falls. As you approach the cliff where the stairs that lead out of the gorge is located there will be a sign pointing to the Broken Rock Falls trailhead.

The trail to Broken Rock Falls is 0.2 miles in length adding just under a half-mile to your out-and-back hike. The waterfall is recessed between a crack in the cliff, hence the name, and only partially viewable from the trail. Exercise caution if climbing onto nearby boulders for a better vantage point, especially during the winter months as the sandstone becomes slick when wet.

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Broken Rock Falls during Winter 2021

4 – The Falls at Ash Cave

The falls at Ash Cave is not a high flowing falls by any means, but the unique environment at Ash Cave adds to the waterfalls beauty. The drops more than 100 feet to the base of Ash Cave. The cave’s acoustics throws the crashing sound from the falls around the cave’s interior. Close your eyes anywhere in the cave and listen to the sounds as the echo from the falls will sound as though you are standing right next to it.

Visiting Ash Cave during winter when temperatures remain below freezing will reveal ‘The Ice Sculpture’, a large pile of ice that forms at the base of the falls and can grow upwards to ten feet in height at times.

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Winter at Ash Cave

3 – Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave

The hike through Old Man’s Cave starts and ends with waterfalls flowing into emerald colored pools. Lower Falls, located at the end of the Old Man’s Cave trail, is a 30 foot waterfall that flows year round at Hocking Hills State Park. To reach Lower Falls, follow the Old Man’s Cave trail through the gorge starting at the visitors center near Old Man’s Cave parking lot. The trail system is one-way to improve foot traffic at this popular park destination.

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Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave

2 – Cedar Falls

The hike to Cedar Falls is a short 0.6 Mile loop that leads hikers into a gorge, past tall sandstone cliffs and across a few foot bridges until you reach the falls. What I love about Cedar Falls is how the water flow is split into two streams as it cascades down the stone wall before rejoining and dumping into the pool at the base of the falls. Cedar Falls was named by early settlers in the area who had mistaken the tall hemlock trees near the falls as cedar trees. Another interesting bit of history is the fact a grist mill once stood at the top of Cedar Falls during the 1800’s.

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Cedar Falls

1 – Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave

The picturesque Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave takes the top spot on the list as the surrounding sandstone cliffs and stone foot bridge that arches above the falls makes it near impossible to take a bad photo of the falls. Measuring just over 20 feet in height, Upper Falls flows into a pool with a distinct emerald color. Many visitors of to Old Man’s Cave start their hike at the visitors center, and due to the one-way trail system, will often skip Upper Falls. To reach Upper Falls, start your hike at the northeast corner of the Old Man’s Cave parking lot. The trailhead is located next to large wooden sign just off the parking lot.

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Upper Falls at Old Man’s Cave

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