Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Park has a great mix of hiking trails for families with kids of all ages. There are six main trail sites, plus a few longer connectors for serious hiking. There are a few trails that stand out as kid-friendly destinations with easier skill level hiking, few safety hazards, and plenty of room to roam the gorges along the rivers waterfalls.
What to Bring on a Hocking Hills Hike
Once you are on the trails there isn’t an easy way out, other than walking back the way you came. Bring a comfortable backpack with some water and snacks. You may also want to pack a towel and extra clothes for the kids since there are plenty of wet areas they will inevitably want to splash. Every trail head has restrooms near the parking area, so, well, you know to what to remind the kiddos.
A Note on Safety at Hocking Hills
Most Hocking Hills trails follow along the bottoms and rims of gorges. The rim trails can be over 75 feet high and there are often no barriers to prevent hikers from taking a wrong step. It’s a good idea to avoid the most rim trails with younger or inattentive children as accidents can be deadly. Keep a close eye on your kids, especially those who love to run around. Most trails are also pet friendly, so be sure kids are up to speed on safe dog interactions or what to do if they feel scared being in close quarters with larger pets.
Best Hikes for Kids at Hocking Hills
Which trails to visit to make the most of your family vacation.
The Rock House trail offers a bit of a different experience than other Hocking Hills sites. Instead of hiking to a waterfall, the Rock House is a large sandstone cavern. Even younger kids will have fun clambering into the 200 foot long cave. The gorge trail is a relatively easy hike and less than a mile round trip.
Easily the most popular trail in Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park, Old Man's Cave consists of roughly one mile of winding paths along the stream in the gorge and to views of several waterfalls. There are some sketchy areas of the trails near cliff edges and worn stone stairs, but kids used to hiking should be fine. The new visitor center is a good stop for info on the area and features some interactive exhibits for kids; plus modern bathrooms.
The short 0.3 mile gorge trail takes visitors along a paved path right up to the huge amphitheater shaped cave. A waterfall trickles water from up high, creating a large sandy pool. Kids will love this stop and will definitely get wet. The path is wheelchair accessible for its entire length.
Cedar Falls trail is perfect for an easy hike. Less than a mile round trip, and without steep elevation changes, it provides a good combination of exercise and sight seeing. Visitors are rewarded with a picturesque waterfall at the end of the trail.The pool transitions into a wide, flat stone area before condensing into a stream. Perfect for kids to splash round and play.
Conkle's Hollow is a bit different than the Hocking Hills State Park trails in the area. For one, it is a nature preserve, which means no pets allowed. Secondly, the two trails here provide vastly different experiences. It is a great location for both experienced and casual hikers alike. Being a short drive from the other sites means it is a bit less crowded during busy seasons. Ends in a beautiful hollow in the gorge with a waterfall trickling into a little pool. Good spot for kids to explore and play.
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