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    7 Caves (Ohio)

 

    Copyright 1992, by Bob Soetebier



   7 Caves is on the s. side of Hwy. 50 (between Hillsboro and

Bainbridge --- approximately 60 miles s.s.w. of Columbus, Ohio) just

after you cross the Rocky Fork Creek bridge (at the easternmost

boundary of Highland County in Ohio.)  It costs $7/person (you get a

$1 discount if you're a A.A.A. member...) and is *well* worth the

cost.  We spent a couple of hours there, hiking 3- to 4-miles of every

foot of the self-guided 7 Cave Trail,  Palisades Trail and Indian

trail (where Daniel Boone is said to once been held prisoner by

Indians, and held overnight tied to a tree along the trail); all of

which took you through numerous electrically-illuminated side caves,

gorges, by waterfalls and interesting rock formations and canyons

along Rocky Fork Creek.

 

   All three trails start/end adjacent to the air-conditioned

concession.  Also adjacent to the nearby parking lot is a well-shaded

picnic area and additional picnic pavilion.

 

   Also in the nearby area (on both the north and south sides of Hwy.

50 between Hillsboro and 7 Caves) are Rocky Fork Lake S.P. and Paint

Creek Reservoir/Lake S.P. -- both of which have great swimming

beaches/fishing/boating.

 

    Ohio's Hocking Hills State Park has several units.  Dawn and I

hiked several trails in all of them, including:

 

    Conkle's Hollow (in Ohio's Hocking Hills west of Logan) has a

fairly level 1/2-mile round trip trail that takes you back through a

canyon to it's boxed-in end waterfall, with surrounding emerald-green

moss/lichen/fern-covered walls.  Along the way you see an impressive

250-foot sheer cliff, with multi-colored strata.

 

    Also, while in the Logan, Ohio area, be sure not to miss nearby

Lake Logan State Park with its beautiful shoreline drive, inviting

swimming beach and fishing areas.

 

    Hocking Hills S.P.'s main unit -- Old Man's Cave -- is the one

that is nearest to the park office/dining lodge/swim pool.  Old Man's

Cave/Gorge/Falls has a visitor's center museum, with an a splendid

view of the gorge below from the adjacent "A-frame" footbridge.

 

    The best thing to do is to start the 1-mile down-into-the-gorge

loop trail from the upper end near the campground road and to emerge

from the canyon near the Upper Falls, and then to re-emerge from the

gorge/canyon at the Lower Falls end.  The trail/gorge is incredibly

beautiful; with a lush canyon, Old Man's [overhang/cliffside] Cave and

tunnel passageways!

 

    Not far from Old Man's Cave is Ash Cave, with a 1/4-mile one-way,

level, paved trail to the 700-foot semi-circular Indian overhang cave

in the bluffside.  The cave was given its name from the large

accumulation of ashes on its floor from Indian campfires. --- A *must*

see!

 

    Cedar Falls is another unit of the Hocking Hills S.P. (between Old

Man's  Cave and Ash Cave... with a 6-mile connecting trail to all 3

units if you're up to it...) otherwise, there is a very nice 1/2-mile

loop trail down into the gorge/canyon that takes you right to the box

end of the canyon for a wonderful sight below/at the base of Cedar

Falls (similar to Mathieson S.P. in N. Central Illinois.)

 

    Cantwell Cliffs is a little more secluded than the rest of the

areas (which are all in the cool/shaded woods/canyons.)  It has

extremely sheer/tall cliffs and is well worth the extra

hiking/effort/climbing.

 

    Rock House just has to be experienced to be believed.  It's a

recessed open-air cave system that has numerous openings in the high

face of a cliff for about 50- to 75-yards (you enter it from the  far

end.)  It is kind of similar to what you would see out in the desert

Southwest, only a much more impressive, lushly-wooded area.  The trail

is 1/2-mile to 1-mile (depending whether or not you just go down and

back:  the tougher way; or, take the longer way down into the canyon

and back out the loop trail beyond Rock House and back up over the top

of the canyon rim.

 

    All the areas I have mentioned for hiking in Ohio require climbing

(some steep/strenuous) up and down hillsides on steps cut out of rock.

So, If you go, be prepared to plan enough time (and pre-conditioning

of your muscles) for the effort.  You'll be glad you did, and will be

well rewarded with fabulous sights to remember/experience. --- Just

get out your maps and go!  You'll be glad you did!

 

[NOTE:  Underlined items in trip account link to additional related info about the points of interest.]