Hocking Hills Adventures
If you’re looking to soar, paddle and climb this spring, these southeast Ohio outfitters can help you embrace the call of the wild.
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours
Take in the natural beauty of the Hocking Hills while zipping from tree to tree, platform to platform on Ohio’s first zip line canopy tour. Each platform, which ranges from 15 to 85 feet off the ground, is built directly around a tree trunk, providing adventurers with a bird’s-eye view of the incredible landscape while they wait their turn.
The tour is also educational, as two guides teach visitors about native plants, animals and geology and share the history the Hocking Hills region. For owner Julieann Burroughs, this combination of thrills and education is an integral part of the experience.
“It goes back to your ethos,” says Burroughs. “We are all about the environment and getting people outdoors and off their electronics.”
While the Original Canopy Tour is still the most popular draw, there are other options as well. There is the X-Tour for adrenaline junkies, which is higher, longer and faster than the original tour; the Dragonfly Tour for kids ages 5 to 12 years old and the SuperZip Tour, a dual racing zip line that begins from an 85-foot-tower. For those who want to stay closer to the ground, there’s also an off-road Segway tour. 10714 Jackson St., Rockbridge 43149, 740/385-9477, hockinghillscanopytours.com
Guests here have the thrilling experience of soaring across a 180-foot gorge three different times as part of this 10 zip line tour that keeps visitors firmly planted on the ground in between rushes of adrenaline. The property’s topography makes this possible, allowing each line’s takeoff and landing zone to be located on solid ground.
Soaring Cliffs offers tours to groups of 10 people or less, which allows guides to interact with each visitor as they teach them about the flora, fauna and history of the area.
“We want everybody to leave with more information than when they came — anything we can point out to them about nature that gets them more connected with the natural world,” says manager Scott Case.
Another trait that separates Soaring Cliffs from other zip line courses is its automatic braking system — the only one in the area to offer such a feature.
“Because we have the automatic brakes you can take somebody as young as 7 years old, so families can all go together,” says Case. “We really enjoy the family atmosphere.” 24719 Miller Rd., Rockbridge 43149, 855/947-4386, soaringcliffs.com
CANOEING & KAYAKING
Original Hocking Hills Adventures Canoe Livery
Original Hocking Hills Adventures Canoe Livery was the first tourism business in the area when Lewis Barbini founded it in 1976. Shane Barbini, who now helps run the operation, says his father saw the vast potential in the area due to Hocking Hills State Park and the breathtaking scenery found there.
The livery offers four different trips, with the shortest running just 5 miles and the longest stretching 15 miles. No matter which option travelers choose, they’ll find the Hocking River a calm and peaceful place perfectly suited for creating family memories.
“Good experiences and family bonding — one of the things we like best about what we do is that anybody can do it,” adds Shane Barbini.
Although most canoes here are red or yellow, the livery has one pink canoe in honor of Lewis’ wife, Connie, who co-owned and -operated the business alongside her husband prior to her death from breast cancer in 2009. Today, the livery donates all proceeds from rentals of the pink canoe to a local cancer support group. 31251 Chieftain Dr., Logan 43138, 740/385-8685, hockinghillscanoeing.com
Hocking Hills Canoe Livery
A love for the outdoors and the water led Aaron and Valerie Fox to open their Hocking Hills Canoe Livery in 1996. Today, after more than two decades in business, Valerie Fox says the livery’s goals are the same as when it started.
“We are doing the same thing we enjoyed doing then,” she says, “helping people get out on the water, enjoying nature and sharing our love of the outdoors with people.”
The livery offers two trips — one 5 miles and one 7 miles — and the choice of either a kayak or a canoe. The 7-mile trip provides an opportunity to dock at an island or sandbar and hike to the natural Rockbridge — a majestic rock formation that arches 50 feet across a ravine. The shorter trip is perfect for kids and families, who often take lunches and snacks on their journey to enjoy at one of the many islands along the river.
Early in the season, Hocking Hills Canoe Livery also offers a rafting option, but that routinely only lasts until June when the river’s water level dips lower. 12789 St. Rte. 664 S., Logan 43138, 740/385-0523, hockingriver.com
ROCK CLIMBING & RAPPELLING
High Rock Adventures
Climb up or rappel down Hocking Hills’ sandstone cliffs with tour guides from High Rock Adventures. Guides start guests with climbs and rappels of about 35 feet, before moving them up to something higher if they are ready. For those feeling bold, the tallest peaks top out at nearly 100 feet.
While adventure is clearly part of the allure, there is also an emphasis on education. High Rock Adventures teaches guests about local plants, animals, history and geology. As part of the experience, guides have visitors scramble over boulders, squeeze through tight rock narrows and crawl through small tunnels between rocks and boulders.
For co-owner Steve Roley, it’s important that High Rock Adventures effectively combines the nature and adventure aspects of its tours.
“I hope people have fun in nature, because we encourage them to have fun,” says Roley. “But we also encourage them to learn something and walk away with a deeper appreciation for the forest.” 10108 Opossum Rd., Rockbridge 43149, 740/385-9886, highrockadventures.com
With this guide service, everything is a private event. Guests call TrekNetwork, make reservations and a lead guide, professionally trained or certified by the American Mountain Guide Association, meets them at the climbing or rappelling site with the gear already set up. Guests have the option to rock climb, rappel or do a combination of both.
Guides start TrekNetwork clients on lower climbs and rappels and slowly work their way up in height. If guests are craving a real thrill, they have the option of a final rappel down the 115-foot Big Spring Falls.
“It’s pretty spectacular,” says Trek-Network founder and owner Jim Stratton. “About a third of the way down your feet get separated from the rocks, and then you’re just hanging there and you just lower yourself.”
Stratton says some of his customers call the experience life changing, and he often finds they’re surprised such offerings are available here.
“It’s pretty fulfilling, hearing people say at the end of the day, ‘I never imagined I could do that,’” says Stratton, “and the tail end of that sentence is, ‘and I can’t believe I was in Ohio.’” 740/777-2579, treknetwork.com