Ash Cave is certainly one of the most breathtaking natural wonders of the Hocking Hills region, and one of the easier hikes. It is one of the 7 major hiking trails in Hocking Hills State Park, located in Southeastern Ohio about an hour SE of Columbus on Route 33 in Hocking County.
Tucked away in the southernmost stretch of Hocking, Ash Cave is the biggest recess cave east of the Mississippi River with a horseshoe-shaped rim that spans 700 feet across. The cave measures 100 feet from the rear cave wall to the front rim that towers 90 feet overhead.
A small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek, which created Ash Cave over many centuries, still cascades over the rim into a small pool below. This seasonal waterfall flows the strongest in the early spring when the snow is melting, but can also be seen in the autumn and winter months, sometimes forming a massive ice mountain on the cave floor during the coldest months.
The approach to Ash Cave follows a wheelchair-friendly asphalt path from the parking lot to the main cave through a narrow cliff-wall gorge lined with sizable beech and hemlock trees. The valley floor offers brilliant displays of wildflowers in all seasons including large flowered trillium, Dutchman’s breeches, trout lily, Jack-in-the-Pulpit, and jewelweed.
From the primary cave, hikers may continue up a series of wooden steps to the rim trail that winds back to the parking or turn back and follow the path the way you came. The rim trail also connects to a 2.3 mile hike to Cedar Falls, marked with signs. Well-behaved pets are permitted on a leash and hikers are advised to stay on the marked trails. Wading or swimming is not allowed in the waterfalls or creeks. Restrooms and picnic facilities are offered adjacent to the parking lot.
HIKE ASH CAVE
The Hocking Hills State Park system includes Ash Cave, Old Man's Cave, Rock House, Conkle's Hollow, Cedar Falls, Cantwell Cliffs, and Whispering Cave Trail. Each offers something truly unique and wonderful, with over 25 miles of one-way looped trail systems that are open to the public year-round from dawn to dusk. From forested trails to massive natural rock formations, the Hocking Hills region is a breathtaking gem hidden in the upper Appalachian Basin for all to visit and enjoy.
Download a Trail Map for Ash Cave and enjoy this relaxing walk in nature.
History of Ash Cave
Ash Cave was formed like the others in this region. It is located in a gorge of Black Hand Sandstone, which is a very porous rock and extremely susceptible to erosion. Thousands of years of erosion from glacial melt and the water flow of Queer Creek carved and shaped the sandstone rock into the majestic natural wonder we enjoy today.
Ash Cave gets its name from the enormous piles of ashes found under the shelter by early settlers in the 1800s. Several thousand bushels of ash were removed from the cave, the largest pile recorded as being 100 feet long, 30 feet wide, and 3 feet deep.
The actual source of the ashes is unknown but is widely believed to have resulted from Indian campfires built up over hundreds of years. Archaeological evidence supports this theory. A test excavation of the ashes in 1877 revealed sticks, arrows, stalks of coarse grasses, animal bones in great variety, bits of pottery, flints and corn cobs.
Ash Cave and the greater Hocking Hills region was conveniently located along the main Indian trail which followed the Queer Creek and Salt Creek valleys. This trail connected the Shawnee villages and the Kanawha River region of West Virginia with their villages along the Scioto River at Chillicothe. The trail was later used after the start of the frontier wars to march prisoners captured along the Ohio River to the Indian towns on the upper Scioto River. The old Indian trail is now State Route 56.
The Miami and Shawnee tribes especially used Ash Cave, perhaps as a place of rest while traveling between villages in modern-day West Virginia and central Ohio, or as an important tribal meeting place, with acoustics and a central pulpit suitable for important speeches and decision making. The recess shelter also served as a workshop where Indian maidens ground corn and prepared meals, and where braves fashioned arrow and spear points and skinned and dressed game.
Modern Ash Cave History
More recent uses of Ash Cave were for camp and township meetings. Pulpit Rock, the large slump block at the cave’s entrance served early settlers as the pulpit for Sunday worship service until a local church could be built. The cave lends itself well to large gatherings due to its enormous size and incredible acoustic qualities. In fact, two spots under the recess have the qualities of a “whispering gallery.”
In 1924, the State of Ohio purchased 146 acres of land in the Hocking Hills. This purchase formally established Hocking Hills State Park. The State of Ohio eventually purchased additional land, including Ash Cave. First owned and operated by the Ohio Department of Forestry, in 1949 the Ohio Department of Natural Resources and the Ohio Division of Parks assumed control of Hocking Hills State Park.
Ash Cave is a staple in our local community, with visitors and locals gathering for events here year-round. These include the Sweethearts Hike and Christmas in Ash Cave, to name just two. The annual Sweethearts Hike is the perfect way to celebrate Valentine’s Day. Every February, couples take a guided stroll to the cave and enjoy several short stops along the way. A campfire, free cookies, and hot chocolate await your arrival. Christmas in Ash Cave kicks off with a lantern walk to the cave. Once there, guests can sip refreshments by an open fire, decorate a Christmas tree, and take photos with Santa. Ash Cave sometimes serves as a spot for drum circles and the Logan High School band has put on concerts in the cave, taking advantage of the excellent acoustics for an enchanting evening of music.
Pro Tips from Our Blog
Best Dog-Friendly Trails in Hocking Hills
When hiking in Hocking Hills through miles of beautiful trails, rock formations and waterfalls, you won’t want to leave...Read More
Check Out These Amazing Wineries Near Hocking Hills
A visit to Hocking Hills, Ohio would not be complete without some time outdoors. Most people visit for the...Read More
Experience the Winter Hikes of Hocking
Hiking is an experience many people love from the time outdoors to quiet space in nature to breathe in...Read More
Get Away with Your Furry Friend in These Hocking Hills Dog Friendly Cabins
Hocking Hills is a beautiful area filled with rock formations, caves, treetop canopies, waterfalls, and more. This nature lover’s...Read More
Get Cozy in These Steamy Sauna Pods of Hocking Hills
Going to the spa sauna is a fun experience. Bask in the warmth of a steamy sauna that cleanses...Read More
Go Hocking Merch!
As Hocking natives, we’ve been exploring these hills and valleys for years, and it’s no surprise to us that...Read More
Go Old School with a Hocking Hills Train Ride
The Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offers a historic-feeling adventure in the rolling hills of Ohio. Founded in 1972, the...Read More
Go Stargazing at the John Glenn Astronomy Park
The John Glenn Astronomy Park (JGAP) is dedicated to sparking an interest in science, learning, and exploration by sharing...Read More
Guide to Camping in the Hocking Hills
Like many of us, camping can seem like a daunting task, but with the right gear and camp systems,...Read More
Guide to Hiking the Hocking Hills
People come from all over the world to see the beautiful parks and trails of Hocking Hills. Our little...Read More
Hocking Hills A-Frame Cabins are as Iconic as They are Rustic
Heading down into the rolling terrain of Ohio, deep in the heart of Hocking Hills, are amazing views and...Read More
How to Explore the Coolest Hocking Hills Caves
The Hocking Hills caves located in southeastern Ohio are some of the most beautiful geological wonders in the area....Read More
How to Get to Hocking Hills
Situated in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains, Ohio’s Hocking Hills offer visitors natural spaces to hike, take a...Read More
Keep it Chill: Your Guide to Glamping in Hocking Hills
Ohio is a beautiful state with breathtaking landscapes, rolling hills, and gorgeous parks to explore. Exploring the beauty is...Read More
Looking for a Good Hocking Hills Music Festival?
People flock to the Hills for adventure, camping, and to explore this beautiful natural landscape. Another reason people love...Read More
Newbie’s Guide to Hocking Hills Tent Camping
Whether coming from the city, suburbs, or another place near or far, Hocking Hills has campsites to bring everyone...Read More
Our Picks for the Best Places to Stay in Hocking Hills This Year
Many people look at destinations but are stumped at all the choices for lodging. Hocking Hills is no exception...Read More
Slip Away to These Getaway Cabins in Hocking Hills
Whether the waterfalls, caves, hiking, or nature draw you in, Hocking Hills is full of adventure and quiet. This...Read More
The Perfect Two-Day Trip in Hocking Hills
Don’t have a lot of time but still seeking an exciting getaway? A two-day Hocking Hills Trip may be...Read More
The Trick to Finding the Coolest Cabins Near Hocking Hills
The Hocking Hills are alive with the sounds of visitors, locals, and travelers from afar checking out the sites....Read More
The Wildlife of Hocking Hills
An abundance of natural wildlife is something that stands out about the Hocking Hills area of Ohio. The Hocking...Read More
Tour These Inspiring Hocking Hills Wedding Venues
Hocking Hills in southeastern Ohio is a nature lover’s paradise. Treetop canopy soars in natural forests and geological formations...Read More
Visit These Awesome Breweries Near Hocking Hills
Step inside any number of breweries near Hocking Hills and you will find visitors from all over the country...Read More
Welcome to the Hocking Hills
…and we’re live! Welcome friends and folks to the brand new website for Go Hocking, a local merch and...Read More
What is the Devil’s Bathtub in Hocking Hills?
The Devil’s Bathtub sounds a bit suspicious up front, but there is quite a history behind this unique and...Read More