November 22, 2014

Another Hocking Hills Adventure

This week Ohio has had unusually cold weather for mid-November, with night time lows in the low teens and daytime highs in the mid-20s. Several inches of snow fell early in the week and haven't completely melted yet. Everyone is complaining about the weather, but yesterday it worked in our favor and we saw an amazing sight in the heart of the Hocking Hills.

We parked in the parking lot for the Rock Climbing and Rappelling Area of the Hocking State Forest and headed up the Long Hollow bridle trail. Apparently it was too cold for horses, but clearly it is a heavily used trail. Fortunately the ground was frozen solid because otherwise the trail would have been a muddy quagmire due to all the horse traffic. Footing wasn't easy at all, but it would have been a lot worse on a warmer day.

The trail passes through a young hemlock forest

and past numerous huge sandstone outcrops. In spring, a waterfall graces the top of the hollow but today we just saw small frozen falls amid the dramatic sandstone formations:

This picture gives an idea of the scale of the place:

A side trail looked interesting so we followed it up past another huge outcrop and around a corner to a large cave that was incredibly beautiful in the early afternoon light:

We came at just the right time, when the sun's angle was such that a patch of the cave's floor and part of the interior walls were brightly illuminated with an ethereal glow. The light on the walls was ever-changing and was beginning to fade as we left.

We all were in awe of this gorgeous interaction of rocks and sunlight.

Later, I found out that on the maps of the area this is called Chapel Cave. A post on the TrekOhio blog indicates that it is also known as 21 Horses Cave, since apparently it can accommodate that many horses within its walls.

In any event, we felt very fortunate to visit this place at a perfect time, when the usually muddy trail was frozen and the ideal light gave us an almost other-worldly experience.


  1. Wow! The photos are gorgeous. What caused the green color on the rocks on the right? I can't wait for Kat and Colin to explore that area. They'll love it.

  2. Thanks! I guess it is some sort of algae--honestly I was so awestruck by the glow in the cave that I didn't even notice the green on the rocks until I got home and saw the photo!