After backpacking in Zaleski State Forest, my plan was to camp for two nights at Hocking Hills State Park and hike the trails. I had been forewarned that Hocking Hills gets crowded, what I failed to understand was that it is not the normal state park crowd level, it is National Park crowd level, which as it turned out was something I was not able to deal with mentally.
I stopped at Old Man’s Cave to use the restroom and pick up a map from the Information Kiosk. I decided that I would save hiking that area for early the next morning to avoid the crowd that was currently there. While trying to leave the parking lot, I had to wait for numerous oblivious people to get out from in front of my truck. The last obstacle to navigate was a group of children playing ball in the middle of the parking lot. The mom finally gets the kids to move and right as I’m driving by the little girl throws the ball up in the air. I think I would’ve came unglued if it’d hit my truck. (Mind you, this whole time, the family was 5 feet from a large, unoccupied grassy area.)
I was hoping that Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve would be far enough off the beaten path to get away from the crowds. It was definitely less crowded that Old Man’s Cave area. There’s a little picnic area, flush toilets, and a dumpster by the parking area. Two trails go through the area, the Gorge Trail and the Rim Trail.
The Gorge Trail is .6 miles one-way and is wheel chair accessible for .5 of it. The last .1 mile takes you to the end of the gorge where there is a pretty waterfall. I decided to start with the Gorge Trail because I wanted to see the waterfall and to give my body time to adjust to hiking with only my day-pack on. The whole gorge is very pretty. As little girl in the area commented to her mom – It looks like a scene from the movie Jurassic World.
There was a group of parents standing right by the falls, their children were running around throwing dirt and screaming, and another couple was patiently trying to wait them out so they could get pictures of the falls. The group of parents finally rounded up all the kids and I thought they were going to leave, instead they started singing Gospel music while standing directly in front of the falls. And so ended my trip to Hocking Hills State Park. I won’t be returning till the dead of winter, when no one else is around, or at least at a time when I am prepared mentally to be dealing with large masses of inconsiderate people.
If you’re ever in the area and are up for dealing with the hordes of people, I do definitely recommend hiking at Hocking Hills State Park. Just the little bit I saw was gorgeous.