The iconic Old Man’s Cave trail leads you through a deep gorge full of picturesque blackhand sandstone formations, caves, cascades and waterfalls.
– Parking Coordinates: 39.435463, -82.540939 (Large parking lot adjacent to the Old Man’s Cave Visitors Center)
– Trailhead Coordinates: 39.434710, -82.541381 (In front of the visitors center. Follow the steps down into the gorge)
– Distance and Type: 1.5 Mile Loop
– Trail Difficulty: Easy
– Elevation Gain: +/- 95 Feet
– Trail Markers: Blue Blazes and Trail Signs
– Sandstone Cliffs
– Overhang Cave
– Trail cuts through sandstone tunnels
– Lower Falls
– Sphinx Head rock formation
– Broken Rock Falls (Optional)
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.
Old Man’s Cave is Hocking Hills most popular and crowded hike due to the relative short distance and the number of features packed in this short hike. Old Man’s Cave was named after Richard Rowe, a man who lived most of his life underneath the overhang cave during the early 1800’s. I was informed by a park ranger that Richard’s body was buried under the overhang cave after his death. Old Man’s Cave is much smaller than the nearby massive Ash Cave, but more than makes up with the area’s beautiful surroundings.
This hike starts at the Old Man’s Cave visitor’s center where a set of steps will guide you into the gorge. The hike runs along the Grandma Gatewood Memorial Trail and is a one-way trail system. This means that hikers wanting to view the upper falls should start their hike from the other end of the parking lot (see Upper Falls Hike or Grandma Gatewood Memorial Hike for these options).
Note: Winter hiking at Old Man’s Cave can be icy. I highly recommend bringing a pair of microspikes for walking on the ice.
The trail will follow the creek through the gorge along tall cliffs and through sandstone tunnels until you reach Old Man’s Cave. You can, at this point, explore the cave and return to the visitors center by hiking up the tunnel, or you can continue on the trail heading towards Lower Falls. The trail is well maintained and steps are cut into the hillside to help traverse the terrain. A well marked intersection will identify the path you need to follow to reach Lower Falls.
For the purpose of this post, I will recommend taking the short hike from Lower Falls to Broken Rock Falls (0.2 Miles Out and Back). To reach Broken Rock Falls, follow the trail to the left at the sign leading towards the visitor’s center. This trail will follow the sandstone cliff past a small overhang cave and down some steps eventually leading you to the Broken Rock Falls. Broken Rock Falls is tucked between two massive sandstone cliffs. Snagging a good view of this waterfall will involve climbing on some nearby boulders for a better vantage point.