No trip to Hocking Hills is complete without a visit to Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve to admire the breathtaking vistas. Towering sandstone cliffs and cascading waterfalls reach almost 200 feet above a gorge that at times is only 100 feet wide. Conkle’s Hollow is named after W.J. Conkle, a man about which practically nothing is known except for that he visited the area in 1797 and carved his name and the date into a cliff.
Like the other spectacular rock formations in Hocking Hills State Park, Conkle’s Hollow was formed over time by tectonic plate movements, weathering, and erosion of the Blackhand sandstone found throughout Hocking Hills. Ohio purchased the land in 1925 as part of its newly instituted effort to preserve the state’s most beautiful places, and Conkle’s Hollow was declared a nature preserve in 1977.
According to local legend, long ago a band of Native Americans robbed a group of settlers and then fled to Conkle’s Hollow. The Native Americans found a small alcove located high up on the west wall of the gorge that seemed like an excellent place to stash their riches. To reach the alcove, they cut down one of two large hemlock trees nearby and used it as a ladder and then pushed it to the ground. Their plan was to use the other hemlock to retrieve the treasure, and they carved an arrow in the rock face so they could find the alcove again. However, Mother Nature intervened and the second tree was toppled in a storm, so they never obtained the money. Many people claim to have seen the carved arrow (though it is no longer visible), but the treasure has never been found—certainly not for lack of trying!
Plant and Animal Life
The park is a nature preserve, which means it is protected. In addition to the rock formations, Conkle’s Hollow is home to vibrant plant and animal ecosystems. The gorge remains cool throughout the year, allowing species that took up residence thousands of years ago, when a glacier moved through Ohio, to continue to flourish. Within the gorge, you will find Canada yew, partridgeberry, and other tree species that are usually only found farther north, while the cliff ridges support oak and pine trees, as well as a variety of endangered orchids and other wildflowers. The valley contains the legendary hemlocks and other hardwoods, while huckleberries and blueberries thrive wherever they can put down roots.
Because of the rich vegetation and diverse habitats, many species of animals call Conkle’s Hollow home. Today visitors might run across deer, turkeys, bobcats, grouse, beavers, and many varieties of birds and amphibians.
Planning a Visit
Conkle’s Hollow is located about 12 miles south of Logan off of SR 374. There are two main hiking trails. The Lower Gorge Trail is about a mile long and handicapped-accessible. This is the easier trail, so it is fine for hikers of all ages and levels. The Rim Trail runs two and a half miles along the cliffs. This trail is more difficult and could be scary for people afraid of heights, so it is recommended for more experienced hikers only.
The park is open daily year-round from 30 minutes before sunrise to 30 minutes after sunset. Because it is a nature preserve, no dogs are allowed. For more information about Conkle’s Hollow, read the visitor’s guide put out by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.
Enjoy your trip! And as always don’t forget we offer great cabins near Conkle’s Hollow.