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If you are planning to visit Hocking Hills, Old Mans Cave is one trail you definitely need to do. It is, without a doubt, the best hiking trail in Hocking Hills.
It has waterfalls, a recess cave, stone bridges, concrete bridges, even a bathtub!
Bring your child or your dog because Old Mans Cave in Hocking Hills Ohio is perfect for both.
Since Hocking Hills State Park re-opened in July, 2020, the trails are one way. In fact, they plan on making this a permanent change. Signage is clear and tells you where to begin your hike.
Hiking Old Mans Cave is a moderately rated 1 – 1.5 mile hike depending on where you exit. I thought it was pretty easy, but there are quite a few steps – maybe that’s what makes it a moderate rank. In addition, there are several connector trails to take from here if you’d like. We’ll discuss those later in the post.
Let’s get into the park details!
Directions to Old Man’s Cave Hocking Hills
Coming from Cleveland, the route I take is around 3 hours, depending on traffic within Columbus (I like taking the 270 bypass):
- 71 South to Columbus
- 270 East toward Wheeling
- US 33 East to Lancaster
- Exit OH 664 South
From downtown Columbus, it’s only about an hour to Hocking Hills.
- 71 South
- to 70 East toward Wheeling
- US 33 East to Lancaster
- Exit OH 664 South
From Cincinnati is slightly less than two and half hours:
- 71 North
- Take Exit 65 to US 35 towards Washington Court House
- Take OH-104 exit to OH-207
- At the traffic circle, take the 2nd exit onto OH-159
- At the traffic circle, take the 1st exit onto OH-180 E
- Turn right onto OH-56 East
- Go straight to continue on OH 664 North
Old Man’s Cave address:
19852 State Route 664 Logan, OH 43138
GPS: 39.437176, -82.539667
Parking at Old Man’s Cave
The parking lot easily holds 100 cars, although I didn’t count!
We arrived quite early on a summer morning around 8:15 and there were less than 10 cars parked.
Old Man’s Cave Visitor Center
This visitor center is amazing! Opened in the summer of 2019, it’s 8500 square feet of knowledge and history of the area. Plus, a 5000 square foot verandah.
Interactive exhibits help visitors learn about the geographical nature of Hocking Hills, in addition to helping plan visits to all areas of the state park.
Learn about the various trails and safety considerations for your stay.
There’s even an indoor cave to give a unique one-of-a-kind perspective about the area’s gorges.
Stop here either before or after your hike to use the restrooms or fill up your water bottle at the filling stations. There’s even a small gift shop if you want to take home a souvenir. Use the Visitor Information Desk to get any questions answered or to pick up trail maps before you head out.
Unless you need to stop at the Visitor’s Center first, the beginning of the trail starts on a path in front of the parked cars and to the left.
The first natural beauty you come to on Old Man’s Cave trail is the Upper Falls.
Our hike was in the summer so the ‘falls’ were more like a ‘trickle’ at this point. However, it was still gorgeous and worth going down the path to get the shot in the picture below.
These waterfalls drop into a stream that meanders its way through a variety of recessed caves and rock formations. Due to this, we get the breathtakingly beautiful views we see today while hiking through the Hocking Hills region.
Take the side trail to the sandy bottom of the waterfall and take a look at one of the many Hocking Hills caves you’ll see in this region.
The sandstone in the rock known as Devil’s Bathtub is tightly cemented together. Because of the direction of the stream, the only place for it to go is down. This is what creates the oval bowl shaped like a bathtub.
Can you swim in Devil’s Bathtub Hocking Hills?
Although it may look like a great place for a cool dip in the water, no, you are not allowed to swim in Devil’s Bathtub.
In fact, with the tub being several feet deep, it is actually almost impossible to get out of. There is no swimming or wading allowed due to it being dangerous, prohibited and possibly cause wildlife damage.
Old Mans Cave Trail
As mentioned before, this is a one-way trail of moderate intensity. I love this trail because there are interesting twists and turns to it.
Whether that’s climbing up steps, climbing down steps through a tunnel, walking on concrete stepping stones over shallow water or walking across stone bridges, there was something different at every turn.
It was not boring at all!
That’s what makes it my favorite Hocking Hills hiking trail.
Here’s a link to an Old Man’s Cave trail map, as well as the other trails within Hocking Hills State Park.
The recess of Old Man’s Cave is the most exquisite and unique feature in this park.
It sits 75 feet above the stream and measures 250 feet long.
Legend has it a recluse named Richard Rowe lived in this recess along with his two dogs in the 1800’s. Because of this, people started calling it Old Man’s Cave.
From the trail, cross over the bridge to get to the stone steps leading up to the cave, walk through it and come out the other side. The scenery leading up to the cave is the prettiest in the whole park.
Exit the cave, hike up some steps and find the end of Olds Man Cave trail. This is the first exit point and you will have hiked 1 mile. You’ll be led to the back of the Visitor Center which you pass and then see the parking lot in front of you.
If you did not turn-off to explore Old Man’s Cave by crossing the bridge, the path continues on to the Lower Falls. At this point, you are on the Grandma Gatewood Trail.
While not as popular as the Upper Falls due to their location, these falls are less crowded and definitely worth a look.
Just so you are aware, this path adds a half-mile to your trail hike.
The Lower Falls are another 25-foot drop into a large pool at the bottom. From here, climb up wooden and stone steps to exit the gorge and make your way toward the back of the Visitor’s Center.
Old Man’s Cave Connector Trails
It’s really hard to even begin to explain all the connector trails. If you plan to do more serious hiking, I suggest you stop in at the Visitor Center Information desk and pick up some Hocking Hills trail maps or even talk to someone about it.
However, let me at least mention a couple of places you can venture from the Old Man’s Cave trail.
Take a look at the picture below showing you how several of the popular Hocking Hills parks are intertwined.
For the die-hard adventurous, take the trail all the way to Ash Cave. It’s a 6-mile one-way hike, however, there is no return transportation unless you leave a car there.
You could also take the Buckeye Trail or the Gorge Trail over to Cedar Falls. This is a 6-mile loop. If interested, the folks at TrekOhio give a great description and directions. I, personally, have not done this, but it does look amazing.
Next time I am in the area, I plan to do the Hemlock Bridge Trail and see Whispering Cave. This is one of the newest trails in Hocking Hills with a 105-foot waterfall there to greet you.
Hocking Hills State Park
Even as an Ohio native, 2020 is the first year I’ve been to Hocking Hills. Really, I don’t know why I waited so long! If you are looking for a great hiking area, you definitely need to come here.
As part of the Hocking Hills State Park, there are 6 parks and 2 nature preserves:
- Ash Cave
- Cantwell Cliffs
- Cedar Falls
- Old Man’s Cave
- Rock House
- Whispering Cave
- Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve
- Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
Please note that dogs are not allowed in the nature preserves, but they are allowed in other areas of the State Park.
Where to Stay in Hocking Hills
If you are looking for a large name-brand hotel chain, you won’t find any here. While there are a few small motels nearby in Logan, OH, you want to get the classic experience by staying in a log cabin.
Ever wanted to try a treehouse? Yep, they have them here! Click here to connect to VRBO and search for your treehouse in Hocking Hills.
Most cabins have private hot tubs, outdoor areas for grilling or sitting around a fire pit. A cabin is perfect whether you want an intimate place for two or several bedrooms to keep the kids sleeping in a different room.
We loved Sandstone Ridge with Carefree Cabins in Hocking Hills. Absolutely recommend it for parties of up to four people.
Want to see this in a web story? Click here to see the Old Man’s Cave story.
Have you been to Old Mans Cave in Ohio? If so, what is your favorite trail? I can’t wait to go back and check out some more!
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