Hocking Hills, where does one begin, this is an area I've been visiting since I was a child, it is so very dear to my heart and I know I'm not alone on this. Every year millions of people travel from all over the world to experience the beauty that is this natural area. You'll find everything from waterfalls, cliffs, and caves. By observing the rocks you can travel through time and observe the history of Ohio.
The first people to explore and establish in this area were of the ancient Adena culture over 7,000 years ago. More recently in the 1700s Native Americans would travel through these caves and hollows. In the 1800s white settlers began settling in the land and by the late 1800s it became a popular scenic attraction. In the 1920s the State began purchasing this land to preserve these natural features.
The rocks tell us so much more than that. The highlighted features of the Hocking Hills complex are carved from Black Hand Sandstone and shale. This bedrock was deposited more than 350 million years ago as a delta in the warm shallow sea which covered Ohio at that time. The millions of years following, the uplift and stream erosion created the remarkable features you can see today.
Sandstone varies in composition and hardness from softer, loosely cemented middle zone to harder top and bottom layers. The recess caves like those seen at Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave, and Cantwell Cliffs are all carved in the softer middle zone. Weathering and erosion widened cracks found in the middle layer of sandstone at the Rock House worked to create the unusual formation found there.
When observing the rocks you can also see interesting features like cross-bedding, honeycomb weathering, and slump blocks.
Although glaciers never reached the park areas, their influence can be found throughout the area in the form of the vegetation such as the towering eastern hemlocks, the Canada yew, and the yellow and black birch growing in the gorges.
While we weren't able to visit all of the parks on this trip, we did see quite a few...
Rock House, Conkle's Hollow, Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave
(Missing - Cantwell Cliffs, Whispering Cave)
Click "Read More" to read about each place we visited and enjoy some of the photos we took along the way.
Since 2015 we have been exploring and sharing all the amazing things we’ve found in nature.
Emily is an Ohio Certified Volunteer Naturalist who is most often found out in the woods.