Find some solitude in one of the state's most popular natural playground.
The Hocking Hills are more than just their most famous landmarks—Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave and Rock House. You can still find natural splendor (with fewer crowds) if you look a little harder, exploring the region’s lesser-known parks, waterways and other spectacular natural areas. “We want everyone to have a great experience, and if there’s too many people crammed into one space, that’s not going to be the optimal experience,” says Karen Raymore, executive director of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association.
Here are three more obscure spots, recommended by Raymore.
Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
This 100-foot natural bridge is one of at least 12 that can be found in Ohio. While you can drive to a parking lot and hike about a mile to the bridge from there, Raymore suggests canoeing down the Hocking River to it instead.
Tar Hollow State Park
With over 20 miles of hiking and bridle trails, including the extensive 21-mile Logan Boy Scout Trail perfect for backpacking, Tar Hollow has an abundance of space to explore. The park also borders Tar Hollow State Forest, which comprises more than 16,000 acres, and the 15-acre Pine Lake, perfect for boating and fishing.
Lake Hope State Park
Located right outside Hocking County in Zaleski State Forest, Lake Hope includes beautiful scenery that can be seen from one of its eight biking trails, as well as ancient mounds and abandoned structures. One such structure is the Moonville Tunnel, which Raymore recommends riding to on horseback with a guide to share haunted stories along the way. If paddling is your thing, Athens-based Touch the Earth Adventures offers guided morning and evening kayak excursions on Lake Hope.