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Topic: Snow and ice at Hocking Hills, Ohio, Trip Report (1/27/13)< Next Oldest | Next Newest >
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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 11:35 am  Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Out of all the places I've visited so far in the northeast, Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park would be my choice for America's next National Park. Soaring cliffs and huge caves, balletic waterfalls, a natural bridge and the tallest trees in the state are just some of the attractions. Hocking Hills is one of my favorite places in my current neck of the woods.

It had been a while since my last visit, so on a frigid morning I loaded up the camera and hiking gear and made the 3.5hr drive, southwest from Pittsburgh. I knew that time management would be difficult, since I also wanted to hike a bit, but was ready to be flexible.

Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls

It was 7:45am, when I reached the parking lot at the Old Man's Cave complex. The temperature was 9F. Getting out of the warm car took some persuasion! However, as soon as I descended down into the narrow gorge my motivation level soared. Sandstone cliffs rose loomed high, on either side. Icy Old Man's Creek meandered beside me. I was pleasantly surprised to see that it wasn't frozen solid; the burbling sounds made for some lovely music. Icicles festooned the cliffs, some in banks like a layered keyboard, while snow crunched underfoot. I first made my way to the head of the gorge, past Devil's Bathtub, where pretty Upper Falls graces an amphitheater of sandstone cliffs. The waterfall was mostly frozen, but a bit of water was still flowing amidst a lacy curtain of ice. Taking photographs was a real challenge, since taking off the heavy gloves for any extended period of time, would leave me with numb fingers. My thinner gloves, which I use for photography, were useless.

Old Man's Cave: Devil's Bathtub
Devil's Bathtub

Old Man's Cave: Upper Falls
Upper Falls

From Upper Falls I backtracked and then headed deeper into the gorge. My plan was to hike the 3mi to Cedar Falls, then evaluate if I had time to hike another 3mi further to Ash Cave. The longer trip would be dependent on how much time I 'lost' to photography. I immediately proceeded to lose a whole bunch of time at Old Man's Cave, an enormous gash in the cliffs. The scale was so grand whenever I see it I'm reminded of the American West. The view of an ice bound landscape from inside the protection of the snow-free cave was otherworldly.

Old Man's Cave: Sheltered
Looking at a frozen world

A little further down the gorge was Lower Falls. This is an extremely graceful waterfall when flowing, but was completely frozen for me. Accordingly, I didn't spend much time here, since I was a eager to walk amidst the beautiful hemlock and hardwood forest that calls the lower gorge home. The tallest tree in Ohio, a 149ft hemlock, also lives here.

Old Man's Cave: Lower Falls
Lower Falls

Somewhat icy and snowy hiking, beside Old Man's Creek took me to a lovely spot where the gorge opened up. Here, I left Old Man's Creek and took a left alongside equally pretty Queer Creek. Throughout the hike, I'd pass huge hanging icicles, which would be shimmering waterfalls in summer. In one or two cases, some still were.

Hocking Hills: Towering trees and icicles
Towering trees and hanging waterfalls

Hocking Hills: Hemlock needles
Hemlock needles

Eventually, I reached a frozen Cedar Falls. While winter is a beautiful, much quieter time in Hocking Hills, Cedar Falls suffers. In summer, this is the most photogenic waterfall I've ever seen, so it was a shame to see nothing but ice instead. Oh well, you can't have everything.

By now, since I had one more attraction to visit, it was too late for me to hike further to Ash Cave, so I turned around. I took the gorge overlook trail on the way back, which stayed atop the gorge. I got the occasional view down into the gorge, but for the most part it was put down you head and hike time. The hemlocks here were also not nearly as impressive as the ones below.

Hocking Hills: Branches

Old Man's Cave: Snow and ice

Stats: 6mi, ~700ft gain

Rock House

After my Old Man's Cave Cedar Falls hike, I got back in the car and made the short 8mi drive to the Rock House parking lot. The Rock House is an amazing place: a 200ft long roomy hall, just inside and paralleling a 150ft tall cliff-face. Openings in the face of the cliff act as gothic windows and a door. The dark inside, with bands of sunshine and bright windows make the place great to experience, but a real challenge to photograph. My single previous attempt had been pathetic - this one was better, but not by much!

Rock House: Windows

Rock House: Textured walls

Stats: 0.5mi, 275ft gain


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wildlifenate Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 1:11 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I've been there a couple of times.  Amazing place, and it was quite a surprise that such a place existed in Ohio of all places.

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QCHIKER Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 1:46 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great pics. The Rock House looks really neat from your pics.
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hikingFF77 Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 4:25 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Wow, cool.  Never knew that existed there.

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EastieTrekker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 4:54 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Beautiful photos as always, Gali.  Thanks for sharing!

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 5:24 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

I might add that the Buckeye Trail/North Country Trail goes through that park
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GaliWalker Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Jan. 28 2013, 7:14 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic. Skip to the next post in this topic. Ignore posts   QUOTE

Thanks guys. :)

(isawtman @ Jan. 28 2013, 5:24 pm)
QUOTE
I might add that the Buckeye Trail/North Country Trail goes through that park

Whoops, I should have mentioned that the section of trail from Old Man's Cave to Cedar Falls that I hiked, and then onward to Ash Cave which I'd originally planned to hike too, is part of the Buckeye/North Country Trail. This section is also called the Grandma Gatewood Trail, named for the first woman to solo hike the Appalachian Trail.

A couple of additional things:
- Upon my return from the Rock House hike the temperature had warmed to 32F. When I started the car the soles of my semi-wet boots couldn't stay on the pedals. I think the pedals had accumulated a thin layer of ice! I had to wipe them and the mat down and turned the foot heater on full. Eventually things dried out. Whew.
- It seems I last visited Hocking Hills two years ago, on Jan 24th, so at almost exactly the same time of year. Then too it had been 9F when I started my hike!


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city2outdoors Search for posts by this member.

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PostIcon Posted on: Feb. 01 2013, 3:07 pm Skip to the previous post in this topic.  Ignore posts   QUOTE

Great Pictures! I liked the long exposure one the best.

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7 replies since Jan. 28 2013, 11:35 am < Next Oldest | Next Newest >

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