Find Romance, an Adrenaline Buzz or a Family Connection
Andrea Coats and Chad Gordon made their first trip to Hocking Hills the year they met. Both divorced with teenaged children, they needed a romantic escape to focus on each other. A few days in the woods worked — the Medina couple has been together five years.
From time to time, the two return to Hocking Hills in the southeast part of the state, and plan to return again this summer to enjoy the romance of the picturesque region.
“We get a cabin by ourselves with a hot tub and grill. We grill steaks, sit in the hot tub and watch the hummingbirds around us,” Coats says. “It has beautiful woodland scenery, which makes it romantic. It’s a holding-hands, walking-around, being-alone kind of place. That’s my idea of romance. I like to be alone together.”
Gordon says, “We like it as a couple because the seclusion allows us to give full attention to each other. With immersion into nature and escape from urban, suburban and digital routines, it sounds cliché, but it’s like going back in time.”
Choose Your Own Adventure
Coats and Gordon found — and have nurtured — their romance in Hocking Hills. But there are plenty of other things to discover just a short car ride from Northeast Ohio.
With only two hotels in the area — a Holiday Inn Express and a Baymont — most of the accommodations are cabins and lodges. These are convenient for anything from couples’ getaways to family gatherings. While most options include hot tubs, some larger properties offer in-ground pools for swimming or ponds for fishing.
When visitors venture into public, it’s usually to one of the six separate areas that make up the 2,356 acres of Hocking Hills State Park. They join other hikers in an area that started forming 350 million years ago when Ohio was covered by a warm, shallow sea. That’s when Blackhand sandstone was deposited. Over time the stone has been shaped by earth shifts and stream erosion into gorges, caves and waterfalls. Among the best-known features are Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Rock House.
The area offers affordable lodging and admission-free outdoor activities as well as luxury lodging and spa services. Those with physical limitations will find accessible paths available in two locations (check maps). Folks seeking moderate activity can rent canoes and kayaks, balance on an all-terrain Segway tour, ride horses, golf, or shop in the three small towns near the state park.
Rock climbing and rappelling are just two ways to get your adrenaline pumping. Hocking Hills just may be the zipline/canopy tour capital of the East. It’s home to four outfitters managing a total of 60 zipline and canopy experiences.
Fans of the area consider the limited internet and cellphone service a bonus; visitors live in the moment with no intrusions from the outside world. Lacking temptation, they can connect with the people around them. Avoiding outside distractions is appealing for couples and large family groups alike.
Those seeking outside distractions will find small shops stocked with gifts, antiques and collectibles, and other items in nearby Logan.
Whatever your aspiration for a Hocking Hills escape, Coats’ advice is to bring your own beverages. While they’re available in the area, seeking the perfect bottle of wine or your favorite vodka distracts from time in nature. If you forget, of course, local wineries, moonshine distilleries and a brewery have something to offer.
IF YOU HAVE A DAY …
Lodging: Cherry Ridge Retreat (cherryridgeretreat.com)
Best thing to do: Hike Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills State Park (explorehockinghills.com/stateparks)
If hiking/accessibility is an issue, Ash Cave has a fully paved path and is handicap accessible.
IF YOU HAVE A WEEKEND …
Best thing to do: Hocking Hills Canopy Tours (hockinghillscanopytours.com) includes a zipline, several skybridges and a small rappel experience. You’ll feel 20 years younger.
IF YOU HAVE A WEEK …
Cedar Grove Lodging (cedargrovelodging.com) — The log cabins are perfect for a gathering of family or friends.
Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls (innatcedarfalls.com) — They have great mid-week rates and offer spa services.
Best things to do:
Return to Hocking Hills Canopy Tours (hockinghillscanopytours.com) to try the Off-Road Segway Experience.
High Rock Adventures (highrockadventures.com) offers eco-tours, rappelling and rock climbing experiences.
EVERY DAY …
Relax in your cabin’s hot tub after a long day of adventuring and stare up at the dazzling night sky. Hocking Hills has superb stargazing because there’s no light pollution from nearby cities.
Value: Millstone BBQ (millstonebbq.com) offers Southern-smoked BBQ in Logan.
Luxury: Kindred Spirits (at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, innatcedarfalls.com/restaurant) offers cooked-to-order cuisine made with fresh, local ingredients.
Paris Wolfe hopes to motorcycle the Hocking Hills this summer.