As eastern Ohio transitions toward West Virginia and the Appalachian Mountains, the Hocking Hills rise out of the farmland east of Chillicothe, beckoning the intrepid hiker with a myriad of trails through the foothills of the Hocking Hills State Forest. Being intrepid hikers ourselves (!), we — like the mountains here — rose to the challenge and spent a rewarding day exploring the few opportunities yet open to visitors here in the midst of the pandemic: Rock House and Cantwell Ledges.
Although I did not research this extensively, it appears that the geology here is sandstone, which allowed ancient rivers to carve out a number of scenic ledges and caves. Rock House is a cave system of approximately one hundred yards, with frequent “windows” carved into the rock to allow expansive views of the surrounding hills; one can easily imagine First Nation peoples sheltering here.
Numerous attractively-exposed ledges lend an air of grandeur to the hike:
Three-year-old Layla was a trouper, soldiering on without complaint over each of the two, two-mile hikes we did this day. This included a number of steep staircases carved into the rocks, many of which were almost waist-high for her. She was often heard to mention that “I have strong legs!”.
In between hikes we stopped for ice cream at Grandma Fay’s General Store. Layla was prepared for social distancing:
We stayed at Top O The Caves RV Campground in South Bloomingville, Ohio, an interesting study in contrasts. On the one hand, the campsite we had was spotlessly clean and well maintained.
But on the other hand, the bathhouse was an unmitigated disaster, with four of the five toilets broken and out of service, the door screen punched in and flapping in the wind, and actual holes in the countertops housing the sink; not to mention that it didn’t look like it had been cleaned all season long. We were all grateful for the bathroom facilities in the Little Guy! Although the staff was very helpful (a guy actually led us to our campsite on a golf cart and then helped me back the trailer in) and the campsite excellent, we would not stay here again.
We are now back at LJ’s home outside of Cincinnati, where I will stay another day before heading back east for home. I plan to travel through Pennsylvania on the return trip and take advantage of my Harvest Host membership to stay at some golf courses along the way; I will post again en route.