For possibly a decade, I’ve been saying I want to go to Hocking Hills. Both my wife and daughter were okay with going — and my dog Versa could live in the forest — but, for countless reasons, I never planned the trip.
This weekend was different. I cleaned the van, threw in a mattress (in case we could not find lodging) — and Amy, Versa and I heading to Logan, Ohio, to see what Hocking Hills was like.
We were not disappointed. Saturday, we visited Old Man’s Cave and hiked about five or six miles. On Sunday we hiked near Cedar Falls. During our trip, we saw a deer, a handful of wild turkeys and, of course, stunning landscape — and we met some incredibly nice people.
Illegal Parking — Just Say No!
First there was the park ranger who pulled up behind me as I was unloading my gear to walk through Old Man’s Cave. I had parked behind two vehicles in the shoulder/ditch area of the state route near the park’s entrance.
“I’m going to do you a favor, the park ranger said, and just give you a warning. I am going to ticket the vehicles in front of you. This is a no parking zone. It’s a really dangerous place to park.”
When the friendly officer further explained by not ticketing us he was saving us $135, Amy gave him a high five– which he returned, grinning.
So, we moved the vehicle, thankful for the financial break, and decided to try the parking lot even though it was overflowing. We found a spot, parked legally and spent several hours hiking and photographing the beautiful scenery.
After Old Man’s Cave we were uncertain where to go so we headed to Conkle’s Hollow, but noticed a sign that pets were not permitted on the trail so we left. We then stopped at the state-run campground, hoping against the odds, that they would have a cabin or campsite to rent (they did not), but it was here that a young lady really helped us out.
Since my only goal for the weekend was to get us there, I did not know which trails were the best/worst to hike with a dog. The woman at the campground did know though. She took the time to show me the best trail — explained the terrain (‘there’s one hard hill before the lake’) and marked a spot on the map so I knew where to park to easily access Cedar Falls park.
In For The Night
After hiking a couple of hours Saturday evening, we headed back to the local Walmart to pick up some odds and ends and to decide where to sleep. We knew we could sleep in the Walmart parking lot, but were concerned the dog would be restless (yes we have become those people) due to the street lights. So, we headed to a nearby motel while searching online for deals. The lady at the motel said they were full, but then picked up the phone to find us a room in a nearby town. Although unsuccessful in her attempt, her willingness to help was typical of the way we were treated all weekend.
We decided to try one more place — near Old Man’s Cave. By now it was dark and getting cooler. We pulled into Caveman’s Retreat and the woman reserved us a campsite quickly and easily — and her pleasant demeanor gained her a repeat customer. The site was exactly what we needed and by 9 p.m. we were tucked safely inside our makeshift camper.
Inside Hocking Hills forest and much of the surrounding area, we were cut off from the electronic world. It was a pleasant distraction. Temperatures dipped into the low 40s the night we stayed, but inside our van, beneath our heavy-duty blanket, we were warm and content.
After a good night’s sleep, we headed out Sunday morning for an enjoyable, scenic 10-mile hike at Cedar Falls.
When we left the region Sunday afternoon, we both knew one thing for certain.
We would be back.