Rock House is one of the true gems of Hocking, as the only true cave in Hocking Hills State Park. 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.
The cave is named for its close resemblance to a housing structure, with natural windows and a defensible position on the cliff. The Shawnee and Miami Indians that lived in the southern Ohio forests sheltered in Rock House for centuries before settlers arrived.
Rock House sits halfway up a 150 foot Black Hand Sandstone cliff, carved out like other features of Hocking Hills by glacial melting millenia ago, and is approximately 25 feet high, 200 feet long, and 20-30 feet wide. Seven window-like openings allow sunlight into the cave, and several large sandstone columns support the cave’s roof structure.
The hike back to the Rock House is somewhat long and descends a few steep slopes, but the spectacle is well worth the trek and highly recommended for visitors!
HIKE TO ROCK HOUSE
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 to the Rock House and enjoy this relaxing walk in nature.
The Rock House Trail & History
Rock House cave is located at Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio. This short trail comes in at 1.2 miles out and back but runs alongside some beautiful rock house cliffs. Waterfalls also wind their way down both sides of the rock house cave formation. The trail is popular because of its deep geological history and beauty. Learn more about the history of this unique trail and why so many people flock to Hocking Hills to wander the trail.
Colonel F.F. Rempel of Logan in 1835 created a 16-room hotel with livery stable, ballroom and post office. The picnic shelter stands in its place today along with numerous dated carvings in the rocks nearby. For history and archaeology buffs, there is a carving in the rock in the form of a book. The letters carved in it mean ‘in the Fall, Buck Run bananas are ripe – in the frost fall, a wise man takes a wife.’ Buck Run banana is slang for the fruit of the pawpaw tree. Many hundreds of years ago, the small recess in the cave’s rear wall was once used as a baking oven for Native Americans. The Rock House was once known as ‘Robbers Roost’ because it was used as a hideout for ne’er-do-wells like bandits and bootleggers.
One reason people love to visit Rock House is for the unique experience of walking ancient pathways and seeing the carvings. Not only this, the dense and rich forested areas are beautiful in full bloom or during fall when the colors change. Over 25 miles of hiking trails exist in Hocking HIlls’ State Park system. Interesting things to note:
- Rock House is named for the way it resembles a house and how people thousands of years ago used the cave as a shelter
- Water erosion chipped away at Blackhand Sandstone, creating the cave structure
- At 25-feet high, Rock House is one of the larger caves in the area. Seven ‘window’ openings bring sunlight into the cave, making it even more unusual
Enjoy Rock House
With so much history and natural beauty, it is hard to know where to start when hiking Rock House. This unique formation has ‘windows’ into its inner world, with natural openings that bring in sunshine and a different perspective from each angle. This favorite hiking trail has rocky steps, steep drop-offs and uneven surfaces. Walking with caution and being prepared are recommended. Be sure to heed some good advice when exploring:
- Bring a flashlight: with uneven surfaces, trees, and slippery rocks to traverse, it is easy to lose footing. To see where you’re going, it helps to have a little light from a cell phone or travel flashlight. The cave can be very dark (and hard to see where you’re walking). To avoid any accidents, bring a light source.
- Mind the birds: to avoid being attacked, be mindful of bats and pigeons living in the cave. They roost in rocky corners to watch for them flying about when entering and exiting the cave.
- Entry and exits: the first lot to park in is where the trail exits into the shelter. Trailhead to the Rock House Rim Trail is found here also. Up the hill is an ‘upper’ parking lot for Rock House Gorge Trail. A small trail connects the two parking lots. Decide where you want to go before parking to make it easier to go where you want to go.
- Steep drop offs: hiking can be a fun experience but also a little harrowing. After all, it’s not much fun if it isn’t at least a little dangerous (but not really). Small children should avoid this trail due to steep cliffs and rocky steps. Other trails may be more suitable but keep good footwear and gear on hand for the short (but fun) trek.
Enjoy a Visit to Rock House in Hocking Hills
After all of the planning, it is time to head to the park. Be sure to back a light backpack with some essentials like water, snacks, and maybe a light lunch to eat at the shelter near the parking lot. Individuals and families love to hike the trails together and enjoy a bite to eat. Hocking Hills provides plenty of geological wonders to explore. Why not make Rock House your first stop on the journey?
A: Rock House is accessible off Route 374 in Hocking Hills State Park. One of several trails in the park, it is accessible by following the signs to Rock House parking lot. Look for the trail marker 0.1 miles downhill until a fork in the trail. The yellow marked sign for Lower Rim Trail brings you to the entrance of Rock House.
A: Designed for adults and young teens, children who can walk safely across slippery rocks and near steep cliffs are encouraged to do so with adult supervision. It is not wheelchair accessible.
A: Dogs are allowed on leash but it can be steep and might be scary for some animals inside the cave itself, which can get dark.
A: Definitely bring a small backpack to keep your hands free. Some non-slip shoes for walkling and some snacks or water for the trek, depending how long you plan to hike.
A: There are shelters and places to eat food outside the trail but some people choose to have a light snack inside the trails and even the cave itself while enjoying the view. Be mindful of roosting pigeons that might also take interest!
BROWSE HOCKING MERCH
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