The Hocking Hills region of southeast Ohio boasts an entire bucket list of experiences and activities.
Fill an itinerary with world-class hiking, zipline canopy tours, all-terrain Segways, rock climbing, rappelling, canoeing and kayaking and bird-watching.
And don’t forget hands-on art, wineries and vineyards, microbreweries, washboards, galleries and unique accommodations.
“For smaller groups and smaller vehicles, we have tons to offer,” said Karen Raymore, executive director of Explore Hocking Hills.
The area’s lodging mix of primarily cabins and lodges works best for groups of 12 to 20 people.
Not all roads in the Hocking Hills are able to accommodate a full-size motorcoach.
Commune with nature
Hocking Hills State Park is the area’s No. 1 attraction. The park’s natural areas of Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, Lake Logan and Rock House feature waterfalls, craggy caves and dense forests unlike any other in Ohio. Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve is considered one of the parks in the Hocking Hills State Park group.
“After COVID-19, the state park reconfigured the trails to make them one-way,” Raymore said. “The Ohio Department of Natural Resources put a lot of thought into everyone’s safety. And the Hocking Hills became a pretty attractive getaway.”
Hiking in the state park is a popular activity. Trails range from a quarter-mile to 6 miles and from easy to difficult. A couple are handicapped-accessible. “Our accessible trails are really nice,” Raymore said.
High Rock Adventures-Hocking Hills Eco Tours offers rock climbing and rappelling tours as well as guided nature hikes. Raymore said this spring the company will introduce forest bathing to the Hocking Hills. Forest bathing, based on the Japanese practice of Shinrin Yoku, is a form of nature therapy and not bathing in the general sense. While a participant’s hands or feet may touch the water, they will not be immersed in water. They will be immersed in the forest itself. The guided slow walk in the woods with activities is designed to allow people to connect more deeply with the forest.
The Hocking Hills is perfect for self-care. Spas, a salt cave and sauna pods are all available.
“Our spa and wellness options have expanded significantly,” Raymore said.
Feeling adventurous? You’re in luck, as the Hocking Hills claims the title of canopy tour capital of the Midwest. Feel the wind brush past your face as you fly on zip lines. More than 60 zip lines provide a bird’s-eye view of breathtaking landscape.
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours features two award-winning zip line canopy tours as well as a world-famous SuperZip®, a one-of-a-kind zipline just for kids called DragonFly and off-road Segway tours. The company’s Rockbridge Encounter includes a “nature drive” in an all-terrain vehicle to and from an under-explored geological feature. Visitors experience a rock bridge — the longest one in Ohio, at 100 feet — and take in the natural beauty of the Hocking Hills.
Canoe liveries offer canoe and kayaking opportunities on the Hocking River and local waters. Head to Lake Logan State Park, a human-made, no-wake lake, for pontoon boat rides and opportunities to rent paddle boats.
Hocking Hills favorites
The Columbus Washboard Factory, located in downtown Logan, Ohio, is the only remaining washboard manufacturer in the United States. Many original presses and machinery are used to make the washboards. Groups are able to see an American manufacturing factory in action on a guided tour, which needs to be arranged in advance.
Washboard Fest, set for June 17–19, 2021, in Logan, celebrates the washboard as a musical instrument. This will be the festival’s 20th anniversary, delayed by a year because of the pandemic.
Raymore said the washboard factory and The Olde Dutch Restaurant and Banquet Haus in Logan are able to handle full-size motorcoach groups.
Logan’s shops and boutiques offer a variety of unique products.
At the tourism association’s welcome center in Logan, don’t forget to stop at the Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum. Inside, find more than 3,400 pencil sharpeners in a variety of styles and from several eras.
One spot for hands-on art is at Art & Clay on Main in Lancaster. This accessible art studio features paint your own pottery, a wheel throwing studio and Square 7 Coffee House.