ODNR modifies Hocking Hills hiking trails

Jun 3, 2020 | Ottawa Outdoors | 0 comments

Ohio officials are modifying the trails at Hocking Hills State Park to encourage social distancing this summer. (Photo by D’Arcy Egan)

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is making a number of modifications to the popular Hocking Hills State Park trails system to better accommodate social distancing during the COVID-19 pandemic. The trails are scheduled to open on June 15, including Cantwell Cliffs and Rock House at the state park.

The park’s most beloved trail, Old Man’s Cave, will reopen later this summer, along with other Hocking Hills State Park sites.

“Visitors are attracted to rugged beauty of the Hocking Hills region, but some of the features that draw hikers also make it difficult for them to practice safe social distancing,” said Glen Cobb, chief of the Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft. “Our top priority is the safety of our visitors, staff and first responders, and we believe the modifications will make trail use safer.”

ODNR will re-route trails and direct hikers to one-way travel, where the landscape permits trail modification. One-way trails have the added benefit of protecting the delicate ecological systems in the area. Visitors will be asked to park in only designated parking spots, and when parking lots are full, the area will be temporarily closed until space becomes available.

Hocking State Forest is also opening several recreational features including the horse camp, Airplane Rock, and the bridle trails north of the rappelling area (Unger Rd.) on June 15. The bridle trails south of the rappelling area and the fire tower parking area will remain closed for the time being.

ODNR will continue to work on addressing trail modifications at Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Cedar Falls, and Whispering Cave, as trails are similarly revised to enable one-way travel. The park’s campground and cabin areas will reopen later this summer along with the remainder of the park.

Reservations for the campground and cabin areas can be made with an arrival date of July 15, or later. All reservations made for arrival through June 30 will automatically be canceled, and a full refund issued to the original form of payment, if possible. If we are unable to refund to the original form of payment, then an Ohio State Parks e-gift card will be issued to use on a future reservation.

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