7 Caves (Ohio)
Copyright 1992, by Bob Soetebier
7 Caves is on the s. side of Hwy. 50 (between Hillsboro and
Bainbridge --- approximately 60 miles s.s.w. of Columbus, Ohio) just
after you cross the Rocky Fork Creek bridge (at the easternmost
boundary of Highland County in Ohio.) It costs $7/person (you get a
$1 discount if you're a A.A.A. member...) and is *well* worth the
cost. We spent a couple of hours there, hiking 3- to 4-miles of every
foot of the self-guided 7 Cave Trail, Palisades Trail and Indian
trail (where Daniel Boone is said to once been held prisoner by
Indians, and held overnight tied to a tree along the trail); all of
which took you through numerous electrically-illuminated side caves,
gorges, by waterfalls and interesting rock formations and canyons
along Rocky Fork Creek.
All three trails start/end adjacent to the air-conditioned
concession. Also adjacent to the nearby parking lot is a well-shaded
picnic area and additional picnic pavilion.
Also in the nearby area (on both the north and south sides of Hwy.
50 between Hillsboro and 7 Caves) are Rocky Fork Lake S.P. and Paint
Creek Reservoir/Lake S.P. -- both of which have great swimming
Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park has several units. Dawn and I
hiked several trails in all of them, including:
Conkle's Hollow (in Ohio's Hocking Hills west of Logan) has a
fairly level 1/2-mile round trip trail that takes you back through a
canyon to it's boxed-in end waterfall, with surrounding emerald-green
moss/lichen/fern-covered walls. Along the way you see an impressive
250-foot sheer cliff, with multi-colored strata.
Also, while in the Logan, Ohio area, be sure not to miss nearby
Lake Logan State Park with its beautiful shoreline drive, inviting
swimming beach and fishing areas.
Hocking Hills S.P.'s main unit -- Old Man's Cave -- is the one
that is nearest to the park office/dining lodge/swim pool. Old Man's
Cave/Gorge/Falls has a visitor's center museum, with an a splendid
view of the gorge below from the adjacent "A-frame" footbridge.
The best thing to do is to start the 1-mile down-into-the-gorge
loop trail from the upper end near the campground road and to emerge
from the canyon near the Upper Falls, and then to re-emerge from the
gorge/canyon at the Lower Falls end. The trail/gorge is incredibly
beautiful; with a lush canyon, Old Man's [overhang/cliffside] Cave and
Not far from Old Man's Cave is Ash Cave, with a 1/4-mile one-way,
level, paved trail to the 700-foot semi-circular Indian overhang cave
in the bluffside. The cave was given its name from the large
accumulation of ashes on its floor from Indian campfires. --- A *must*
Cedar Falls is another unit of the Hocking Hills S.P. (between Old
Man's Cave and Ash Cave... with a 6-mile connecting trail to all 3
units if you're up to it...) otherwise, there is a very nice 1/2-mile
loop trail down into the gorge/canyon that takes you right to the box
end of the canyon for a wonderful sight below/at the base of Cedar
Falls (similar to Mathieson S.P. in N. Central Illinois.)
Cantwell Cliffs is a little more secluded than the rest of the
areas (which are all in the cool/shaded woods/canyons.) It has
extremely sheer/tall cliffs and is well worth the extra
Rock House just has to be experienced to be believed. It's a
recessed open-air cave system that has numerous openings in the high
face of a cliff for about 50- to 75-yards (you enter it from the far
end.) It is kind of similar to what you would see out in the desert
Southwest, only a much more impressive, lushly-wooded area. The trail
is 1/2-mile to 1-mile (depending whether or not you just go down and
back: the tougher way; or, take the longer way down into the canyon
and back out the loop trail beyond Rock House and back up over the top
of the canyon rim.
All the areas I have mentioned for hiking in Ohio require climbing
(some steep/strenuous) up and down hillsides on steps cut out of rock.
So, If you go, be prepared to plan enough time (and pre-conditioning
of your muscles) for the effort. You'll be glad you did, and will be
well rewarded with fabulous sights to remember/experience. --- Just
get out your maps and go! You'll be glad you did!
Underlined items in trip account link to additional related info about
the points of interest.]