Ash Cave is one of the highlights of Hocking hills, which is saying a lot. In an area that includes Hocking Hills State Park, Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, Conkle’s Hollow State Nature Preserve, Sheick Hollow State Nature Preserve and Rock House, that’s saying an awful lot!
The Ash Cave Rim Trail begins with a set of stairs to the right of the cave which joins the Buckeye Trail. It is this trail that we’re discussing today and one of our personal favorites in the area.
Ash Cave itself is huge and an impressive sight even to those of us who live in the area. The Ash Cave Rim Trail takes you up to the top of the cave and around the rim and off north to Cedar Falls. We don’t always go that far though, as the trail is officially only half a mile in length. Instead it goes in a loop around the cave and includes a mixture of soil, Blackhand sandstone and tree roots.
The Ash Cave Rim Trail takes you along the creek that feeds the waterfall in Ash Cave and is prone to flooding. Decent hiking boots with an element of waterproofing are definitely needed, especially as there is plenty of creek crossing if you’re going further than the Ash Cave Rim Trail loop itself.
Once at the top of the stairs, there is an amazing view down into the cave that gives more of a feeling of scale. It’s no wonder Native American tribes used it so much to camp, stay winters and craft tools. We know they did this as there is evidence left, including needles and arrow heads.
Winter is a great time to visit Ash Cave and walk the Ash Cave Rim Trail. If it’s cold enough, the water that runs over the rim collects at the bottom making a giant ice cone, which is a sight in itself. Add huge icicles dangling 90 feet above your head and you have a truly inspiring scene.
The loop itself takes in some amazing wooded vistas and shows off the best of what Ash Cave has to offer. It does get busy in peak season and at the weekends but it’s worth the trip. With car parking across the way from the entrance and within a short drive of everything Hocking Hills has to offer, it’s a perfect way to spend a few hours.