Hiking in Ohio: An Unexpected Bonanza

When I think of top vacation destinations, I don’t think of Ohio. I think of the Bahamas. Or Florida. But I was pleasantly surprised earlier this month when I spent a few days in the Hocking Hills region of Ohio. My family was doing a meet-in-the-middle sort of vacation, and Ohio happened to be as good a spot as any to choose as a midway point between New Jersey and Kansas.

My husband and I got up at 3:30 a.m. (major ouch!) to take the most advantage of our little one’s overnight sleep stretch. I figured I’d rather have a tired-parents/happy-baby scenario as opposed to the alternative, and we got it as she slept at least half of the 10-ish hour drive. Unexpectedly pleasant!

Also unexpectedly pleasant? Ohio! When I think of great places to hike, like Jenn, Colorado is No. 1 on my list. Unlike Jenn, I’m not about to pack up three days of provisions and strike out with my tent strapped to my back, but I, uh, totally would do something like that if it weren’t for the baby. Uh huh. But Ohio, specifically Hocking Hills? Move that toward the top of the family-friendly hiking destination list.

And the nature? There were waterfalls. Bridges reminiscent of Lord of the Rings. Sometimes both at the same time.

Hocking Hills Ohio

Rock formations (and more waterfalls) that would make geologists stop and go “hmmm.”

Hocking Hills Ohio

While there were a few challenging parts of the hikes and you definitely had to watch your step and supervise the youngsters—we had an infant strapped to us at all times, as well as a 3-year-old and 6-year-old in tow—we all managed to make it through intact while getting  a boatload of exercise. We were always tired at the end of the day, but never overly exhausted like we’d overdone it. And then we could go back to our cabin and cook a meal. (I kid, Jenn, I kid!)

Hocking Hills Ohio

Taking my turn with the happy hiker. This looks like we're walking through an orchard, but it turned into the toughest hike of our trip (Rock Bridge).

If you didn’t have kids in tow? It seemed like there were always more trails to explore, but we never wanted to bite off more than we could chew with the little ones. Specific recommendations for the region? Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, Ash Cave, Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail (long and will make you step carefully, lest you fall to your death).

Have you ever been pleasantly surprised by a hiking trip or a vacation destination? Been to Hocking Hills? What was your favorite part?—Erin


FTC disclosure: We often receive products from companies to review. All thoughts and opinions are always entirely our own. Unless otherwise stated, we have received no compensation for our review and the content is purely editorial. Affiliate links may be included. If you purchase something through one of those links we may receive a small commission. Thanks for your support!