Secret Ohio: Hidden Hocking Hills
It’s no secret this region of southeast Ohio is our year-round playground, but these three out-of-the-way sites promise a fresh perspective.
When it comes to Hocking Hills State Park, few people know our state’s mix of gorges, caves and waterfalls better than naturalist Pat Quackenbush. “My standard welcome to the park is ‘Welcome to Ohio’s worst-kept secret,’ ” he says with a laugh. Although Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave and Cedar Falls get most of the attention from travelers thanks to their photogenic rock formations and waterfalls, there are other sites that, with a little foresight and planning, can provide you a different view of the Hocking Hills.
Broken Rock Falls: This waterfall is just a half-mile trek from the Lower Falls at Old Man’s Cave and accessible by a marked side trail. “Geographically this place is fabulous, with huge, big boulders that have broken off — hence the name,” Quackenbush says. “The waterfall back there tends to dry up very quickly during June, July and August. It’s most active at the end of March, April and May.”
Rose Lake: “This is one of the last few lakes in Ohio that are trail-access only,” Quackenbush says of this 14-acre body of water located midway between Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls. For those who don’t want to hoof it as far, look for the Fisherman’s Parking sign along state Route 374. (Rose Lake kayakers and paddleboarders often park at this tiny lot). Cross the street and take the marked half-mile trail to Rose Lake.
Robinson Falls: More commonly known as Corkscrew Falls, this beautiful waterfall can be seen by those who obtain a permit to view and photograph it from Boch Hollow State Nature Preserve. Permits should be applied for in advance and the process can take up to two weeks. Visit naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/permits to learn more.
Visit explorehockinghills.com or parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills for more information.