Donna Covert, a 65-year-old resident of Rockbridge, Ohio, readily admits she doesn’t consider herself the outdoor adventurer type. “I would never have dreamed I’d do anything like that!” she says. Covert’s courageous feat? Signing up for one of the Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, comprised of a network of zipline cables and “skybridges” suspended in the treetops of the southeast Ohio hills, which take travelers on a course that traverses over 1.5 miles of rock cliffs, caves and the Hocking River.
“My kids were just totally shocked that I did this,” Covert adds. “At first, they didn’t believe me.”
It’s this kind of alfresco escapade that the Hocking Hills region is known for. From the zipline tours to miles of hiking trails, the area is an idyllic place to commune with nature.
In fact, with more than 25 miles of scenic paths, hikers could travel the trails of the Hocking Hills State Park system for days and never visit the same place twice.
The mile-long Old Man’s Cave trail, which takes an hour or so to hike, boasts craggy cliffs and the churning “Devil’s Bathtub.” Cedar Falls, on the other hand, resembles a storybook forest, complete with dazzling waterfall. In the southernmost corner of the Hocking Hills lies Ash Cave, the largest recess cave in the state. Massive hardwoods and wildflowers dot the quarter-mile path to the 700-foot, horseshoe-shaped cavern (740/385-6842, www.dnr.state.oh.us/parks
The three-hour zipline journey offered by Canopy Tours, (740/385-9477, http://www.hockinghillscanopytours.com
) is an ideal adventure for beginners. “The guides show you everything and walk you through the process step by step,” Covert says. “I loved it. I felt such a sense of accomplishment afterward, and I’d definitely do it again.”
Rain Burroughs, 59, who lives in Washington, Pennsylvania, and works in Grove City, Ohio, agrees. “It’s addicting! I went three times last year,” she says. Complete with 10 ziplines, five bridges and a guide who helps you glide, the tours offer an entirely unique perspective of the terrain below.
After a day of outdoor pursuits, it’s time to head to the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls for rest and relaxation (740/385-7489, www. innatcedarfalls.com
). From the homemade cookies that await you to the menu of spa options available, there’s no limit to the leisure. Visitors can opt to stay in a guestroom, cottage or 19th-century cabin — all filled with antiques and offering scenic views from decks and porches. The spa’s extensive list of services includes massages and mud wraps. Far from country, the bill of fare is highlighted by truffled filet and herb-roasted rack of New Zealand lamb.
The staff at the inn will also help you plan an outdoor itinerary that’s tailor-made to your tastes. Guests who choose the Adventure Inn package receive a four-course meal and a bottle of wine, along with the opportunity to partake of activities ranging from rock climbing to skeet shooting to horseback riding.
With the Nature and Wildlife package, guests are treated to a custom-made picnic, a 50-minute spa treatment and a disposable camera to document their adventure.
Picture-perfect vistas, first-rate accommodations and the chance to rejuvenate close to home. It’s easy to see why the Hocking Hills is one of our state’s most popular destinations. Southeast Ohio offers adventure for everyone.