I am always struck by how much of Hocking Hills is so totally unknown by so many people. They (almost) all seem to stick to just the standard “official” spots: Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Old Man’s Cave, Conkle’s Hollow, Rock House, Cantwell Cliffs. They rarely even go much of a distance beyond the standard fare.
I, on the other hand, enjoy thoroughly exploring what is out there off the beaten path.
Yesterday was another sunny 50° day (we’ve had a lot of those this “winter”), so I did a bit of bushwhacking around the State Forest near Cantwell Cliffs. Total hiking was around 4 miles, with 2½ of that bushwhacking.
To some extent, Hocking Hills has a surfeit of riches. If you know where to look, you can find impressive waterfalls and rock structures pretty easily. Sure, they’re not like the western states, but they have their own charm.
While the day was 50°, we’ve come out of a bit of a cold spell, so the rocks had spent a while accumulating ice. Some of it had melted to the point of falling off, but a lot of it was still attached.
So, here’s the waterfall at the tip of one of the gorges I explored.
Next to it, and off to the side was what was left of some impressive ice.
The waterfall area itself had a pretty good rock fall, too.
Finally, at this gorge waterfall, I was able to climb up and get behind it. Here’s a short from behind the waterfall looking down the gorge.
In some ways, it’s not too hard to find these sorts of rock formations. If you look at a decent topo map, you can find the steep stuff, because all of the topo lines run together.
On this hike, I used my Lidar data to make my own, particularly detailed, topo map. Here’s the area around Cantwell Cliffs. A lot of other cliffs are also visible.
I also visited another gorge. Just like the other gorge, it had a nice ice formation next to it.
And here’s the waterfall (with accompanying recess cave).
One thing about barefoot hiking this time of year is that it can get rather cold. A 50° day in the fall is more comfortable on the feet than a similar one in the spring (okay, I know it’s really not spring yet). In the fall, the ground is still warm from the summer. However, in the spring, the ground is still cold, and you can really feel that with bare feet.
Nonetheless, I found it quite survivable.
Finally, I want to show you what happens when you set up a timed shot and don’t test out the path from your camera to where you plan to stand. Turns out that stream bed was not only wet, but I sank into six inches of sand/mud on every step. So, when the timer went off, I had to quickly turn around where I was. You can see I didn’t even have time to get one of my feet out of the water.
I did manage eventually to do it right though. I had to climb over that small ridge to the right.
It’s a real shame that more people don’t visit these out-of-the-way places in Hocking Hills. On the other hand, it meant that I pretty much had the place to myself.