The part of the Buckeye Trail that runs through Hocking Hills includes a 6 -10 mile section that takes in Cedar Falls, Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave. It’s an amazing trail with some spectacular views and some well-worn paths.
The Buckeye Trail itself is a 1,440 mile trail that encircles Ohio. It takes in most of the highlights of the state and includes many of the towns too. The trial is maintained by volunteers who keep the trails in good order and are working to relocate some of the road-based trails off road to the countryside.
The part of the Buckeye Trail we’re concerned with today is the 6 mile hike from Cedar Falls, through Ash Cave to Old Man’s Cave. We begin on the south side of the SR 664/374 near the campground entrance. As you begin, you will see blue paint marks on trees, these are the “Blue Blazes” and are trail indicators for the Buckeye Trail.
Head from the parking lot to the north of the park and a stone bridge. Cross the bridge, head right and descend the stairs into the gorge. Follow the gorge until it meets Queer Creek. Depending on the weather, it may be wet underfoot, so wear waterproof shoes!
Head upstream along Queer Creek to Old Man’s Cave and take a look around. Then head on to Cedar Falls, which is the three mile mark. Again, take the time to admire the falls, if it’s running. If there has been no rain recently, it sometimes dries up. Head west from Cedar Falls up the State Forest road, through an orange gate.
Continue along the trail until you get to Chapel Ridge Road. Cross and head south along the trail until you get to Ash Cave. From here, you can either retrace your steps to get back to your car, or continue awhile.
If you choose to continue, head through the parking lot to SR56 and turn east along it. Follow the white blazes this time until you reach the Youth Ground Primitive Campground. Continue north walking parallel to the SR 374. Cross with the road over Queer Creek near to Cedar Falls and continue north through some trees.
Continue along the trail, through Virginia Pine Forest and Rose Lake and head down towards the SR664/374 and the trailhead where you began.
The Buckeye Trail is a challenging but very rewarding hike. This 6 mile section is only one part of many that stretches around the entire state. If you’re staying in Hocking Hills, it’s a perfect bite-sized hike that can give you a taste of what Ohio is all about.