It’s a great time to ride the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway. Check out these sights and stops along the way.
The acres of wooded forests, peaceful caves and rustic cabins are the main draw, of course, but each spring southeast Ohio roars to life with motorcycle riders who embrace the return of warm weather by riding the Hocking Hills Scenic Byway.
Beginning at the intersection of Ohio Route 374 and U.S. Route 33, the byway stretches nearly 30 miles from Rockbridge to South Bloomingville and includes portions of state Routes 56, 374 and 664 (check out the Ohio Department of Transportation's map here).
Whether you’re itching to hit the road for an afternoon cruise or an overnight excursion, Matt Rapposelli, an avid motorcyclist and owner of the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge, says the lush foliage of southeast Ohio shouldn’t be missed. “This is hands down the best motorcycle riding in the state.”
Here are five stops to check out along the route, as well as some notable scenery you won’t want to miss.
1. Hocking Hills Motorcycle Ranch
Stop here to pick up a map or buy gear for your bike before hitting the byway. This welcoming motorcycle shop, which is the home to the all-female riding group Chelle’s Angels, has become a popular gathering place, whether one wants to unwind on the side porch or socialize with other riders. “People talk and wind up going out for lunch together,” says owner Michelle Storts. “It’s just a fun place.” Open Thur.–Mon. from April–Nov.; 26860 U.S. 33, Rockbridge 43149, 740/385-4467, hockinghillsmotorcycleranch.com
2. JimBo’s Bar and Diner
Pro motorcycle hill rider Jimmy “JimBo” Clark co-owned this bar with his wife, Joy, up until his death in 2012. Joy has since continued to serve people from around the world who visit to pay tribute to JimBo’s legacy. “We’ve had NASCAR drivers, we’ve had rock bands, we’ve had celebrities. You never know who you’re going to see,” says Joy. Motorcyclists converge here on the weekends to enjoy the outdoor patio or hang out inside, where murals of hill climbs commemorate JimBo’s career. As far as food, burgers are the big draw. Open Thur.–Sun. from second week of April–Oct.; 23356 St. Rte. 56, South Bloomingville 43152, 740/332-6550
3. Ash Cave
Hop off your bike and stretch your legs at this beautiful horseshoe-shaped cave. The 700-foot rim and 90-foot waterfall make this natural formation the largest recess cave in the state. Exceptional acoustic qualities have made this a gathering spot over the centuries, and visitors love to test the cave’s “whispering gallery” qualities, in which quiet voices are audible from long distances. The trail leading to the cave is asphalt, making it accessible to all. “It’s easy to hike in your riding boots,” says Michelle Storts. As riders turn off of Route 56 near the Ash Cave entrance and head north on Route 374 toward Cedar Falls, they’ll encounter a canopy of dense hemlocks, stunning rock formations and glimpses of streams as the scenery unfolds with each bend in the road. “Every time I make that turn onto that stretch it’s like being in the middle of a postcard,” says Matt Rapposelli. “That is the ultimate section for motorcycle riding here.”19852 St. Rte. 664 S., Logan 43138, parks.ohiodnr.gov/hockinghills
4. Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
Those looking for overnight accommodations can choose between a small, secluded cottage, a larger log cabin or a private bed-and-breakfast room at this popular 75-acre destination. “They don’t have to leave the property if they don’t want to,” explains Ellen Grinsfelder, the inn’s co-owner. “We offer them a full experience.” Relaxation begins with a complimentary breakfast, and visitors can opt for spa treatments. Those just riding by can grab lunch or dinner at the inn’s restaurant, Kindred Spirits. 21190 St. Rte. 374, Logan 43138, 740/380-7489, innatcedarfalls.com
5. Hocking Hills Dining Lodge
Speckled with colorful umbrellas, the patio is a welcoming spot to fuel up on casual cuisine, but indoor seating and a private dining room are also available. The made-from-scratch menu ranges from 9-inch pizzas to hearty entrees such as the smoked brisket platter. The place is serious about regional ingredients, and the restaurant’s beef comes from farms owned by The Ohio State University. “We use as many Ohio products as possible and as many local products as possible,” says owner Matt Rapposelli. 20020 St. Rte. 664 S., Logan 43138, 740/380-0400, hockinglodge.com
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