Tucked into the foothills of Appalachia is the region of Ohio known as the Hocking Hills. Conveniently located fifty miles southeast of the capital city of Columbus, the region is a complete escape from the pace of urban living. These hills were covered by the Atlantic Ocean 330 million years ago. Today these hills are visited by more than 4.5 million travelers each year.
The main attraction is the Hocking Hills State Park which is comprised of six non-contiguous sites, each with its own distinct character. Every season engulfs the park with spectacular scenery but winter is magical. Fairytale looking ice beards cover the cave walls, waterfalls freeze in suspended animation and the winter sun floods the snow-covered pines and forest floor. Winter in the Hocking Hills is soft and serene.
The region is also known for great comfort food and the locally owned restaurants showcase their specialties every January during the Comfort Food Cruise. The self-guided cruise takes place January 11, 12, 18, 19, 25 & 26 this year. Between twelve and fifteen restaurants participate and serve up comfort favs like biscuits & gravy, chicken & noodles and mac & cheese. The cruise is completely guilt free. There’s plenty of places to stop along the cruise to soak up the scenery and take a hike to build up your appetite or walk off your last stop.
For fifty-five years hearty souls have gathered for the Hocking Hills Winter Hike. This annual trek takes hikers from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls and Ash Cave along the six-mile Grandma Gatewood Trail, named after the first woman to hike the Appalachian Trail solo. The hike begins at 9 am on January 18 with a stop at Cedar Falls for the Logan Kiwanis Club’s legendary bean soup and cornbread muffins and ends in Ash Cave where busses take hikers back to Old Man’s Cave.
After the Winter Hike it’s time to chill in historic downtown Logan at the Logan Frozen Festival. More than twenty-five ice sculptures line Main Street along with live entertainment, ice games, ice sculpting demonstrations and food trucks. January 18 is a busy day in the Hocking Hills. Come for the Winter Hike, chill out at the Frozen Festival and warm up on the Comfort Food Cruise.
The quintessential Hocking Hills getaway must include a cozy cabin in the woods. Fortunately, there are more than eight hundred cabins and lodges peppered throughout the hills. From the perfect love nest for two to a luxury lodge for the whole gang, the choices are varied and the surroundings are superb.
Ohio’s Hocking Hills has the perfect cure for cabin fever. Explore the magic of winter in Ohio’s natural crown jewels.