Exploring Ash Cave at Hocking Hills State Park – Ohio’s Largest Cave

The Ash Cave Loop features its namesake Ash Cave, a 700 foot wide by 100 foot deep by 90 foot tall recessed cave and waterfall.

Locations (Parking and Trailhead)
– Parking Coordinates:  39.396071, -82.545738 (Coordinates lead to parking near trailhead. Additional parking can be found in the lot across the road.)
– Trailhead Coordinates: 39.396278, -82.545612 (The trailhead starts just north of the street parking spots)

Hike Details
– Distance and Type: 0.6 Mile Loop Trail
– Trail Difficulty: Easy
– Elevation Gain: +/- 70 Feet
– Trail Markers: Blue and Red blazes. The trail is well marked and easy to follow.

Hike Features
– Tall cliffs to the west along the trail leading to the cave.
– The massive Ash Cave
– The small waterfall flowing from above Ash Cave

The falls flowing from above Ash Cave and the formation of the “Ice Sculpture” a seasonal event where a large ice mound forms at the base of the falls.


Note: Trail conditions change over time. If you discover any inaccuracies with this post during your visit, please post a comment below to let us know.

Ash cave is a massive overhang cave located in the southeastern corner of Hocking Hills State Park. The cave, measuring over 700 feet wide by 100 feet deep with a 90 foot tall cave ceiling is the largest recessed cave in the state of Ohio. Ash cave also features a small waterfall that adds an additional layer of beauty to this geological feature. During winter months when temperatures remain below freezing for a stretch of days, a pile of ice will form at the base of the falls, at times growing up to 10 feet in height.

The trail itself is a well maintained half-mile loop that starts near the street parking spots and follows the large hillside cliffs to your left for 0.2 miles until you reach the cave’s entrance. The trail then turns to sand and stone for the portion within Ash cave. Spend some time exploring the cave and falls, notice the different layers along the back cave wall and listen to how the sound from the waterfall bounces through the cave. Once you are ready to depart the cave, proceed to the opposite end of the cave from where you entered by following the wooden staircase up the hillside. This will lead you to a trail intersection where you will turn right and follow the signs to the parking lot.

Visiting during the winter months? Portions of this trail can be iced over causing slick conditions, especially on the steps and on the downhill section as you return to the parking lot. I highly recommend owning and wearing a pair of microspikes during your visit. I used the Kahtoola MICROspikes Traction System from REI during my visit and they worked like a charm when traveling over the thick layers of ice on this trail and at Old Man’s Cave and Rock House trails.

In addition to being a popular geological feature as the largest cave in Ohio, the cave is also a site of historical importance. The name Ash Cave comes from historical accounts of large piles of ash found at the cave site by early settlers in the area. The large ash piles were left behind by the native Shawnee Indians who used the cave as shelter. Early settlers used the cave as a church until they were able to build a church that could hold the regions growing population.

In my opinion, Ash Cave is a must see stop while visiting the Hocking Hills area. The cave’s massive size and beauty in addition to a short and easy hike makes this a stop you easily complete within an hour.

Hike walkthrough

  • Mile 0.0 – From the main parking lot, cross the street towards the trailhead. A large wooden sign offers details on the hike, history and geological features in the area. Hike along the trail with tall Black Hand Sandstone cliffs to your left and the stream flowing to your right.

  • Mile 0.2 – Your first views of Ash Cave. Enter the cave and 700 foot wide cave and explore the area.

  • Mile 0.3 – Proceed up the steps on the far end of the cave leading you up to a ridge trail. Turn right at the top of the steps and hike down the hill until you reach the starting point near your vehicle.

  • Mile 0.6 – Reach parking lot where you started