Campground Review: Hocking Hills State Park, Old Man’s Cave Campground – Logan, Ohio

Posted August 26, 2017 – Narrated by Carmen
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See our 5-Bambi rating legend at the end of this review.

When a fellow traveller we met at the Airstream factory suggested Ohio for “excellent hiking,” I pictured a corn maze.

“Seriously?” I chided, “There’s hiking in Ohio?!”


Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve

More than a million visitors a year drive through thousands of cornfields toward Hocking Hills – just southwest of Logan – to take a cool, shadowy, plunge into a sprawling network of blackhand sandstone recessed caves.

People come for zip-line, mountain-biking, rappelling, wheelchair and stroller accessible trails and even Segway tours.

This state park is certainly dedicated to providing access! With more than 2,300 acres – remarkably maintained to keep trails navigable – hikers at all levels of experience and from everywhere in the world dig their heels down, way down into a gorgeous salad of moss, fern and mushroom slathered geologic eye-candy with hemlock forests and mysterious watery gorges.

Located within the park and right on the trails, Old Man’s Cave Campground offers 172 campsites and 23 are reserved for first-come first-serve campers, like us.

Those non-reservable, walk-in sites are electrical only, as are most of the sites. The new section – sites 24 to 70 – have full hookups.

Electrical sites are $30 a night and full hook-ups are $40. (as of August 2017)

The asphalt padded sites can accommodate up to a 50′ unit.

This campground is spread out over rolling hills, so some sites are more isolated while others are rather crowded. Throughout our thirteen night stay from July 23-August 5, the sites were mostly full.

Because we were walk-in campers (arriving on a Sunday morning) and allowed only an electrical unit (no water or sewer) we used the showers to save our water. The park has several shower facilities located throughout – some newer than others. There’s a new laundry and shower building in the parking lot near the pool.

We have few complaints about Hocking Hill State Park.

Local residents served as camp hosts and this arrangement may explain the home town pride and dedication felt throughout the park.

We also appreciate that the park staff gave us permission to receive shipments from Best Buy and Amazon – so important for full-timers.

All that said, we’ve come to expect weak cell service. Some sites had a poor to moderate signal – most had no service at all. Site #1 had fairly good reception. At the ranger’s office – down the hill near the entrance – a cell booster is offered free to guests and can be accessed from outdoor cafe tables and chairs.

Site #1, a bit exposed to the campground road, but a great location.

As soon as we settled in, we got crackin’ on those trails! The first and best trailhead was about ten steps away from our trailer – all well marked with maps and reference points.

Within moments of our descent the temperature cooled several degrees and we heard the waterfalls behind the thick drapes of vegetation.

At first glimpse, the water looked surreal – glowing with a stone-jade opaque light which changed constantly in color intensity and brightness – more like an entity than a substance.

Impossibly beautiful … and potentially dangerous. Don’t let the well-maintained trails deceive you – they’re slippery – especially after a rain.

But the display of human development enfolding and connecting the natural landscape is a trademark feature of Hocking Hills – an art form to consider – architecture designed to connect, not capture.

We were smitten.

Occupied since the ice age by indigenous people – Shawnee, Wyandot, and the Lenape tribes – the paths are well defined and the infrastructure – stairs, bridges, tunnels, handrails – were upgraded over the years by settlers, miners, trappers, itinerant residents, and perfected in the 1930’s by the WPA. The work continues.

The ancient and ongoing development imagines the possibility of an occupied wilderness in balance.

It certainly celebrates the delicacy of human handiwork in a place that has been called “home” for thousands of years.

Devil’s Bathtub

I’m glad I remembered my camera on our first hike …

At the foot of Cedar Falls, I got lucky …

… when a jubilant young woman performed a perfect handstand.

Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve, just a couple of miles from the campground will always be one of our most memorable hikes.

We heeded the warning to stay on the trails. Once again, this is a dangerous area – narrow rim-hugging trails on the edge of steep bluffs with spectacular forest views and mushrooms in every color and size.

And, at the end of the day, a cool swim. It’s quite unusual for a State Park to have a pool – and it was staffed with real lifeguards.

I took advantage every day. Open 11 am to 7 pm during the summer (closes Labor Day weekend). This is a well-maintained and safe pool.

Our only regret about Hocking Hills is that we didn’t bring our son here when he was a child.

Camp hosts and friendly locals kindly advised us about the many fun things to do in the area, even invited us to dinner and let us in on the best places to eat.

The Beach Boys concert seemed to be the thing to do, so when in Rome … Very fun to watch the crowd go wild over that famous hit, “Ohio Girls.”

Hocking Hills Winery was a 12 mile, 20-minute drive – but worth it …

Hocking Hills Moonshine, locally distilled, offered a different take an old-time refreshment.

Our favorite haunt for refreshments was Brewery 33, and their top-notch IPA and Saison. Great entertainment is offered several nights a week.

We highly recommend this exciting new brewery and wish them well.

Even with mud slicks and power outages (due to heavy rains), we consider the $30 per night camping fee to be fair since Hocking Hills State Park has no entry fee. That’s right! Free hiking!

There is a two-week maximum stay, and we learned that in summertime many Ohioans will go home after the two-week stay, restock groceries and return to camp.

It’s a locals paradise, a meeting place, sacred ground …

We would have stayed longer (due to the rains we lost some hiking time) but with no WiFi and weak cell signals and no safe bike lanes to ride to town, we decided to move on … But, we’ll be back someday for more hiking In wonderland.

We proudly give Hocking Hills State Park a 4-Bambi rating! Thank you, Ohio!!!

If you want to see our exact route, click here.

*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.

Our “BAMBI” rating system explained:

bambi-1 – One Bambi: Should’a boondocked.

bambi-2Two Bambi’s: Better than a Cracker Barrel or Walmart.

bambi-3Three Bambi’s: Adequate for a short stay.

bambi-4Four Bambi’s: Great place! Met our expectations for an extended stay. Needs minor improvements or is not ideally situated for all our preferred recreation (hiking, cycling, swimming, kayaking) without driving.

Five Bambi’s: Destination Camping at it’s best! Critical as we are, there’s nothing we’d improve, and you can bet your sweet Bambi we’re going back!

Click here to see some of our other campground reviews

11 thoughts on “Campground Review: Hocking Hills State Park, Old Man’s Cave Campground – Logan, Ohio

  1. Very cool, never knew Ohio was anything but corn fields and rust belt ruins. I hope you are on your way to Vermont for the fall fireworks of maple trees. Recommend getting to northern Vermont in late September and meander via Bennington, New Hamshire, Mass, RI, stopping at the coast for a seafood stuffing for at least 5 days, and follow the foliage into CT, NY, PA (late Oct), MD, VA, Blue Ridge/Shannon (first week of Nov). I did this trip several times while living on the east coast–the colors and tastes of seafood are at their finest this time of year. If you cannot make that trip this year, put it on your long-list of things to do. 😉 Be safe, have fun. From Lisbon, Herb

  2. Thank you for another shared adventure. I loved it, reading it from my apartment in beautiful Golden Hill in San Diego, Ca. Travels with Living in Beauty, nothing like it!

  3. I would love to know what shoes you are using for hiking? Are they Keens? Thanks so much for all the info you share regarding LIB!!

    1. Hello Janelle! I’m so sorry it took me so long to respond! Yes my shoes are Keens! I got them on sale 50% off at R.E.I.

      I also wear Crocks. All my shoes are stored in a shoe box that we keep outside when it’s not raining. No shoes in the trailer. We take our shoes on and off outside. It works out pretty good since the shoe box also doubles as a table. I have about 3 pair of Keens and 3 pair of Crocs (flats, wedges, tall black pumps for evening) Three pair of boots are kept under the bed – a pair of grey and brown and red croc rainboots.

      Thanks for commenting and again, I apologize for not responding sooner – things just got a little crazy.

      Safe Travels!

      – Carmen

  4. Super cute blog. Thanks for doing this. It helped me decide to camp there with several other members of my family with RVs. Happy & safe travels.

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