Best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills
Hocking Hills is the perfect family-friendly Ohio destination. The main attraction of Hocking Hills is its natural rock formations and numerous waterfalls, but all of these must be reached by hiking trails. Over the years, I wished that someone would rank the easiest or best trails for young children. So, after multiple visits to Hocking Hills with our family, I’ve come up with a list of the best hiking trails for kids at Hocking Hills. Here are my suggestions for the top 5 easiest hikes at Hocking.
Is Hocking Hills kid-friendly?
Yes! Hocking Hills really has something for all ages. There are trails in Hocking Hills that are even stroller-friendly! Read below to find out what trails I think are the easiest for little ones.
Ash Cave – The easiest trail at Hocking Hills
The easiest hiking trail at Hocking Hills for kids of all ages is the paved Gorge Trail at Ash Cave. This trail is stroller/wheelchair accessible and it’s only 0.3 miles long each way, so if you have young ones that want to walk, but tire out quickly, they should be able to handle the short distance.
The trail ends at the large cave recess- Ash Cave stands over 90 feet high and is almost 700 feet wide from end to end, so it’s sure to wow even the littlest traveler. The area is full of sand and the rocks can be slippery, so tennis shoes should be worn. However, on dry days I’ve found Ash Cave to be almost one giant (shallow) sandbox. If you have a little one that likes diggers or trucks, maybe pack a few small ones to give yourself a moment of solitude.
Conkles Hollow is a State Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area. This is one of the most dramatic areas in the winter, as the walls of the gorge can be filled with ice formations. On one winter visit, my little ones thought we had taken off to Elsa’s land in Frozen.
The best trail for kids at Conkles Hollow would be the half-mile Gorge Trail. The Gorge Trail at Conkles Hollow is paved and stroller-friendly, just note that if you do visit in winter, this area does not get a lot of sunshine and you may be walking on a sheet of ice instead of a paved trail! For the most part though, for the summer and fall visitors, this paved trail is without too many hazards for kids to encounter and makes a must-see stop on your Hocking Hills vacation.
Cedar Falls is one of the most iconic sites at Hocking Hills! For good reason – the waterfall and surroundings are truly magical. There are multiple ways to reach Cedar Falls and with small children, it’s hard to know which is the best!
I recommend parking at the main Cedar Falls parking area (this is not the one right along 374 but instead, visitors should follow the signs to a stone sign and parking entrance). This trail is NOT stroller friendly, but you do enter the gorge via stairs which for me is easier if holding the hand of a toddler or wearing them in a carrier. I’m less nervous about falling! (Using this map, you’d only hike the portion where the yellow and purple go together and then turn around).
Old Man’s Cave
Old Man’s Cave is one of the most popular areas of Hocking Hills. The trail at Old Man’s Cave has recently been refigured to allow for only one-way traffic. You’ll start the trail near the Upper Falls and descend many stairs to the bottom of the gorge. This trail allows you to view the main attractions of the Devil’s bathtub and Upper Falls.
There is a short time spent on the rim at the beginning and the end of the loop, so make sure to pay special attention to little ones. We carried our toddler in a Lille Baby carrier on our back.
Because Old Man’s Cave is so popular, you will want to hit this trail early in the morning. If your children are early risers, hit this trail first thing in the morning! On a recent trip, we visited at 7:30 am and only a few cars were in the parking lot, but by the time we left the trail at 9 am, cars were pouring into the parking lot.
Rockbridge is another Nature Preserve within the Hocking Hills area. I had a hard time choosing between a #4 and #5 for the best hiking trails, but I like Rockbridge because there is very little time in which I HAVE to be holding the hand of my preschooler. The path begins in a pasture and then weaves through the woods before coming to Ohio’s largest natural rock bridge. This is the area where you’ll need to be extra careful with young children to ensure they don’t fall.
Another reason why I love the Rockbridge is that I’ve never found it to be as busy as Ash Cave or Old Man’s Cave. It’s not “off the beaten track” but in the words of a fellow traveler I met on our last visit, “Old Man’s Cave was like an airport terminal.” You’ll find out for yourself.
Where to stay in Hocking Hills with kids
Hocking Hills has many family-friendly places to stay, but our favorite is The Hocking Hills Caboose. We have enjoyed two visits to the Caboose, and it really is a great place to create family memories! The Caboose offers bedding for five, a bathroom with a shower, an outdoor grill, and a fire pit. The best thing is, it’s only 5 minutes from Ash Cave – one of my favorite hikes for kids! Find out more here:
If the Caboose isn’t available, the Sleep Inn and Suites or Holiday Inn Express in Logan would be convenient options.
Looking for more things to do in Hocking Hills? Check out my 1-day Hocking Hills itinerary or my 3-day itinerary! Want to visit some hidden gems? Check out this post about off-the-beaten-path trails at Hocking Hills. Love waterfalls? Here are 15 amazing waterfalls in Ohio.
More nearby Ohio fun? Check out Blackhand Gorge State Nature Preserve or fun things to do in Newark, Ohio.
Have you been to Hocking Hills? Which trail would you recommend as the best for kids?
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17 thoughts on “Top 5 Hocking Hills Hikes for kids”
I visited Cedar Falls just the other day and loved it – the waterfall was gorgeous! Next time you go check out the Hocking Hills app, it has these trails and I think even some more as well – helped me a lot. Great post!
Awesome! Didn’t know there was an app. I didn’t have mobile service throughout much of the park- will it work without 4G?
I didn’t have much service either and it seemed to work fine so I think so!
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Thanks for your Blog. Just got back from Hocking Hills with 4 yr. old, 9 month old, dog, and grandparents. I would add the following:
1. Ash Cave – stroller friendly, easy hike, kid enjoyed playing in the sand, very pretty. Dog friendly and kid friendly.
2. Cedar Falls – not stroller friendly, and stupidly I forgot my carrier, so I had to hold baby in arms, but I managed. It was a beautiful, warm day, and I didn’t know that the kids all play/swim in the water at the base of the falls. So, dress the kiddos in bathing suits!! Wear/bring water friendly shoes if you want. The rocks can be slippery, so my 4 year old got in the water unintentionally, which was pretty funny. As did quite a few adults while we sat on the rocks and watched. Dog friendly.
3. Conkles Hollow – sure wish we had skipped this one. Arrived, unloaded and as we went to enter the paved path saw the NO PETS sign. So, Grandpa had to stay back with the dog while the rest of us went on. That would have been good to know in advance, and the park map provides no indication that no dogs allowed. We did the 1/2 mile walk and then got to a point where the stroller could go no further, yet the main attraction was a short walk ahead with steps. So, baby and I sat and waited while Grandma took 4 year old the rest of the way. No water fall, not the best site on a spring/summer day, if you have to choose.
4. Old Man’s Cave – very pretty. Hardest/most challenging of our 4 hikes, particularly with baby in arms. Really, really wish I had remembered the carrier!!! Dog friendly. Kid friendly, although definitely requires close supervision!
Enjoy! We had great weather on Mother’s Day weekend, and it was nice to get out and be with nature at its best.
Thanks for your thoughts, Kristi! We don’t have a dog, so I didn’t consider the dog-friendly tips. All in all, it sounds like you had a great trip!
Thank you so much for your helpful blog! We just returned from a 2 day trip with our 2.5 year old and 12 month old and I found your tips to be very helpful! We did Conkles Hollow (definitely should?ve considered bug spray since we walked in the evening!), Ash Cave- easiest and best site for little ones and my sons favorite since he could drive his little truck around, Cedar Falls- more of a challenge with the many steps getting in and out and was more crowded than I expected but it was a 90 degree day and people were swimming; Old Man?s Cave- we did this in the evening- a lot less people- and it was our second favorite; their new visitors center is beautiful (and air conditioned) and there is a newer entrance that takes you from the top of the cave, down to the bottom and then you can follow the upper falls signs back up. We?ll definitely go back once my daughter is 2.5 years so she can walk too!
Thanks, Jessica! I’m glad you had a great trip! We need to get back down there and see the changes at Old Man’s Cave!
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I live here and agree some of the best trials are not old mans cave they get too much business all of these parks are beautiful and the next time you come this way try rockstull preservation and wahkeena beautiful places.
Thanks Misty! I will definitely try out Rock Stalls next time. I’ve been to Wahkeena, it’s a great place, too!
We used your tips today at Hocking Hills with a 5 & 10 year old. We did Old Man’s Cave with the Lower Falls Loop, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave. Thanks for this post – very helpful!
Thanks for the feedback, Jenn! I’m so glad that my post was useful. I hope you enjoyed your visit!