Waterfall Hikes of Hocking Hills & Cuyahoga Valley

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It's still early as we pull into a nearly empty Walmart parking lot in Logan, Ohio.  We are thrilled to be here this morning.  Our Appalachian tramily (trail family) is having a reunion today (to read about our AT thru-hike, click here).  In this post, we explore the waterfall hikes of Hocking Hills & Cuyahoga Valley.

It's drizzling when we set out from Pearl's Diner where we've had a hearty breakfast with our boys Frick, Frack, and Handstand (sans Savage Beast).  The rain is not stopping us from getting out into the woods with friends today.  Hocking Hills State Park is a busy place and with good reason.  It has some beautiful sights.  If you like water features, caves, and trees, this is the park for you.

Nestled in Southeastern Ohio, this park has 6 hiking regions and 30 miles of trails to explore.  We visited Whispering, Old Man's, and Ash Caves.  It was an absolute joy to hike on these well-maintained paths among the gorgeous rock formations.

Hemlock Bridge Trail

From Logan, we head south on 664 about 12 miles, turning left after the cabins and parking in the lot at the Hemlock Bridge Trailhead.  If you're in reasonably good shape, Whispering Cave is an easy hike.  There are a few sets of stairs, and the hike is less than a mile from the trailhead to the recess cave.

Take the Hemlock Bridge Trail to the Whispering Cave Trail.  Whispering Cave is the second largest Cave in the park.  I would recommend seeing this feature first and working your way from there to Old Man's Cave.

Backtracking on the Whispering Cave Trail, we continue down the Hemlock Bridge Trail to the park's swinging bridge.  This marks the terminus for the Hemlock Bridge Trail.  As we cross over Old Man's Creek, we connect with and continue along the Grandma Gatewood (Buckeye) Trail.  Find a map for Whispering Cave and Hemlock Bridge Trails here.

Old Man's Cave

The Grandma Gatewood Trail is a small part of Ohio's long-distance path: the Buckeye Trail.  Grandma Gatewood is famous for being the first woman to thru-hike the Appalachian Trail.  She was one of the dedicating hikers of the Buckeye Trail, which is nearly 1,444 miles.

Our tramily continues our pleasant day hike along the Grandma Gatewood (Buckeye) Trail to the Old Man's Cave access trail - a short jaunt leads up to the cave.  Farther along the Buckeye, we visit the Devil's Bathtub.  This sandstone tub is a hypnotic whirlpool in the midst of the tiered waterfall of Old Man's Creek.  The trail has a picturesque stone bridge allowing visitors to get a bird's eye view of this unique formation.

Ash Cave

After viewing the Devil's Bathtub and Old Man's Cave, we return the way we came back down the Buckeye to the Hemlock Trail and back to our trailhead parking lot.  This park feels like a pleasant tour of the woods for an experienced hiker.  There is little elevation and the path is a lovely meander, showcasing the wonders of this splendid day hike.  Find a map for Old Man's Cave and the Devil's Bathtub here.

Now for the star of the show, we make the short drive to Ash Cave.  There is a parking area off route 56.  Cross the street to reach the Grandma Gatewood (Buckeye) Trail.  Follow this for .3 miles to reach the dramatic Ash Cave and it's cascading waterfall.  Make sure to bring your camera.

It's been an amazing day for us.  We got to see our dear friends while doing what we love best: hiking.  Hocking Hills State Park is an awesome place for scenic day hiking.  I highly recommend that you put it on your list.  It is especially beautiful in the fall as the leaves change color.  Click here for a map of Ash Cave.

Cuyahoga Valley National Park

Just south of Cleveland is a place teeming with photogenic spots: Cuyahoga Valley National Park.  This historic area is home to the Towpath Trail, which follows the Ohio & Erie Canal.  It is largely paved multi-use and nearly 20 miles.  There is also a scenic train ride!  View details here.

While there is much interesting history here, the park's highlight is its many beautiful water features.  After stopping for a history tour at the Boston Store Visitor Center, we get our bearings and plan our first waterfall hike to Blue Hen falls.  Parking for the trailhead is a short drive west of the Visitor Center.  From the lot, hop on the Buckeye Trail for a simple .5-mile walk down to the picturesque falls.  Click here for a map.

Next on our list, is the dramatic Brandywine Falls.  This one is a must see and would be considered by many the most impressive sight in the park.  From Blue Hen, we traveled north on the Riverview Road, turning west onto Highland Road, and finally south on Brandywine Road.  There you will find the trailhead parking lot for Brandywine Falls.

The hike to the falls on the Brandywine Gorge Trail requires some work for the best vistas, but the boardwalk and stairs make it a delight.  The view is well worth it.  Find a map here.

Forested & Urban Falls

Cuyahoga Valley includes several Cleveland Metroparks.  From Brandywine Falls, we make our way north to Tinkers Creek Road in the Bedford Reservation.  This is an absolutely lovely area for a scenic drive or hike.  The trees in the fall are stunning.  There is a parking area across the street from Bridal Veil Falls.

Walk across the road to the connector trail, which is a pleasant boardwalk with stairs that leads to a quaint stone bridge over the falls area.  Continue across the bridge onto the Buckeye/Bridle Trail for a better look at this forested falls.

The last stop for the day of waterfall hikes is just outside the Bedford Reservation of Cleveland Metroparks.  Park in the trailhead lot just off of Taylor Street for a hike down the Viaduct Park Loop (.4 miles) to an urban waterfall.  At the bottom of the loop is a scenic overlook of the Great Falls of Tinkers Creek.  From here you can see the ruins of one-time bustling mills.  If you continue your walk around and downwards to the water, you will notice the impressive viaduct.  Details of the Bedford Reservation area can be found here.

Ohio is a lovely state with much to offer in the way of hiking and exploring nature's beauty, especially in the fall when the leaves are changing colors.  I highly recommend spending some time in this area if you enjoy urban trails, waterfalls, and wonderful trees.  Please leave us a comment.  For more road trip ideas, visit our page here.

Hiker Tips

  • For a full list of Hocking Hills' Hikes, click here.
  • For a full list of Cuyahoga Valley National Park Hikes, click here.
  • Visit trekohio.com for an excellent source on all the trails Ohio has to offer, click here.
  • For more waterfalls, check out this amazing site gowaterfalling.com, click here.

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