Hi Guys! Happy Happy Tuesday! Knowing that TOMORROW is my Friday is literally giving me SO MUCH LIFE this morning. I’m so freakin’ excited to go home tomorrow after work! Which since we’ll be traveling… no new posts for the rest of the week! I’ll be spending time with my family. And you should be too!
Today, we’re talking about my absolute favorite place in the Hocking Hills! I’ve been living by the mantra “saving the best for last” because I seriously believe this is the best place in Hocking Hills. This place is easily the most popular spot in the park. And it’s no doubt because the stunning cliffs, caves, waterfalls, bridges and trees that call this area of the park home. This place feels like the inside of a freakin’ fairytale.
This place, is Old Man’s Cave.
So how does a fairytale like place get the name “Old Man’s Cave”?! It’s named after a hermit, named Richard Rowe, who lived in the large recess cave of the gorge. He’s actually buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave. I’m not sure if this is marked or not… I’ve never noticed it if it was. (Either way, kinda creepy.)
This hike can easily be the hardest hike in the park, or it can be an easily little walk. The best part about this trail is that it is completely up to you! Old Man’s Cave is where the Grandma Gatewood Trail begins. From here, you can hike to Ash Cave and Cedar Falls. This is a six mile hike, that people LOVE to do. (We’ve never done it, but would love to sometime!) However, I can’t ever bring myself to leave the Old Man’s Cave Area. And with 5 different sections… it will keep you busy for hours!
Old Man’s Cave Area has 5 main sections that you can find while you’re exploring. Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge.
While the hike through Old Man’s Cave is only about a mile long, but you can easily spend an entire morning here. We’ve never hiked Old Man’s Cave in less than two hours because there is just SO much to see!
The trail begins at the Old Man’s Cave visitor center. Which is massive. It’s easy to tell that this is the most popular place in the park just based on looking at the Visitor Center! From here, you’ll have two options. The Gorge Overlook Trail or Old Man’s Cave. Both times we’ve gone, we’ve done Old Man’s Cave first. (More on which way you might want to go a bit later!)
If you choose to begin with Old Man’s Cave like we did, you’ll start walking down some steps. When you get to the bottom, you’ll be standing in the large recess cave. (The one where the hermit is buried.)
You’ll walk through the cave, and see the beautiful gorge below you!
You’ll find yourself at the top of another set of steps that will lead you right down into the gorge!
But not before you get to go through a little tunnel first!
When you come out, you’ll find the first of many beautiful fairy tale bridges.
Look to your right and you’ll see view like this!
Eeek! Insert heart eyes! When you cross the bridge, you’ll have two options. Left or Right!
I could seriously kick myself because I totally didn’t take a picture of the sign this time around. The picture above is from our trip in 2014. I feel like they don’t have this double sign anymore. But maybe I’m just going crazy. I do know one thing for sure though… we like to start by going to our right!
As you walk, you’ll come across Lower Falls. Again, when we went, there wasn’t a ton of water in the waterfalls.
But less water means you can get closer, am I right?!
Now, if you keep walking on the trail, you’ll find these crazy stairs that lead you wayyyy up from the deep gorge back towards the visitors center.
Which is why, I don’t recommend going the way we did! We climbed the stairs to end up having to go back into the cave to go the way I wanted to Upper Falls. However, because we went this way, we found this!
How cool is that?! We were so excited we got to rehide it!
Anways. We walked back down towards the cave, back down the stairs, and back to where the trail originally splits. This time, we went left!
The left is the more popular direction to head! It takes you to an A Frame bridge, stepping stones, cliffs, coves and of course, the beautiful Upper Falls.
Then, you’ll hit Devil’s Bathtub. Easily the most photographed spot in the park. I’ve seen pictures that are so stunning I could die. But because we were lacking on water while we were there, it wasn’t nearly as pretty as I’ve seen online.
I know… so lame. Usually it looks like this..
Keep going from Devil’s Bathtub and you’ll find Upper Falls.
This is where we hid our rock!
We just love this hike!
Old Man’s Cave is the absolutely easiest place to find in the park. There is literally a billion signs that will point you towards Old Man’s Cave. You won’t miss it. I promise! This one you can also put right into your Google Maps and it’ll bring you right to the parking lot.
Tips and Tricks
- Arrive early! This hike is PACKED by 10 am. And if you’re hoping to have some space, and a good parking spot you’ll want to get there first thing in the morning!
- If you want to check out the visitors center, you should! But then I’d HIGHLY recommend heading towards Upper Falls first. You’d do the entire hike backwards from how we did it, but it makes more sense. You’d start at upper falls, then hike towards the cave (where you’d be below it) and then over towards lower falls. You then could take the steps up and have completed a big circle. Rather than having to backtrack around like we did 🙂
- There are bathrooms and a picnic area, and rangers at an information station!
- Bring your fur baby. Pups are allowed, but they have to be on a leash.
- Plan to spend awhile on this hike. While it’s not long in miles, there is SO much to explore!
Alright loves. Enjoy the rest of your Tuesday!! Just keep thinking… tomorrow is basically Friday. WHOO HOO!
Have a great Thanksgiving everyone! I’ll be back on Sunday with a weekend Round Up!