Summer Adventures: Hocking Hills, Rock House #Ohio

Rock House is another hiking trail park in the Hocking Hills area in Ohio. We visited Rock House the summer before last. It is the only true enclosed cave in the Hocking Hills region. It’s a tunnel like cave and it is situated about halfway up a 150 foot cliff face. It has a 25 foot ceiling height, 200 foot main corridor and is 20 to 30 feet in width depending on where you are standing. There are a few differently shaped openings in the cave which you can look out of to see different views. It’s actually pretty neat since there’s a huge drop to the bottom.

“Nature has hewn out of this cliff the Rock House complete with seven Gothic-arched windows and great sandstone columns which bear its massive roof. As one might imagine, Rock house was used for shelter by past visitors. Hominy holes, small recesses in the rear wall of Rock House, served as baking ovens for Native Americans using the cave. By building a fire in the small recesses, the rock became heated on all sides, and food could be bakes in this crude manner. Further evidence of past use is the presence of chiseled out troughs or holding tanks found in the stone floor. When rainfall is abundant, springs of water permeate through the porous sandstone and flow into these troughs fashioned by man and, when full, continue across the floor and out of the windows. In this way, residents were able to maintain a small water supply in Rock House. According to local folklore, other not so welcome visitors frequented Rock House. Robbers, horse thieves, murderers and even bootleggers earned Rock House its reputation as Robbers Roost.”

Source: http://www.hockinghills.com/rock_house.html

You can also follow that link for more information and other pictures. They have a picture on the site with a better view of the inside of the cave. I did what I could with the phone I had at the time. You can also check out the other parks in the area by visiting that site as well.

When we first started making our way to Rock House, we followed a trail through the woods. It was a bit of a walk but not too long. The path is on a somewhat downhill slope but was pretty linear and easy to navigate. The path wound it’s way around until we emerged from the woods and came upon a bridge with this huge 150 foot cliff looming right in front of us.

This is a shot of the cliff face and you can see one of the openings to the cave. Right in front of that opening is a rather large rock that is attached to the cliff and there were a couple brave souls that climbed out on that rock and sat there. Not me. That’s too much of a gap from the opening!

This is just another of the cliff from after we crossed the bridge.

After we crossed over, we had some stone steps to climb. And when I say some, I mean a lot. There was already a pretty big drop off because the bridge was over a high gap. So we made our way up the steps. These stone steps can be slippery when wet. The day we went, the sky was overcast (it was a storm that was moving in and it wasn’t even supposed to rain that day) and it was a little damp. The steps made me nervous because we had our kids with us who are not afraid of anything and seemed to be completely oblivious to the fact that on the left side, there was no railings or anything – just one long fall to the bottom. We made them stay on the right side against the cliff wall all the way up.

Here’s some shots from the inside. And there are those brave souls I mentioned earlier.

We hung out in the cave for about a half hour. It was pretty dark inside even with the various openings in the cave. Flashlights are definitely welcoming. The kids thought it was pretty cool and we thought it was neat. It was the first time we had visited Rock House. We have been to just about every area in the region so we wanted to check out something different. 

After leaving the cave, there is a short path upwards and some more steps (a bit easier than the first stairway to burning legs) to reach the very top of the cliff. Then you can head through the woods once again until you reach the picnic areas.

There isn’t much of a hike or anything but I will give this one a medium to high level depending on the person. There’s a decent normal walk through the woods and then there’s a big of climbing. If we did it again, I probably would have waited to take our kids until they were a little older. It wasn’t that they couldn’t handle it (because they are better climbers that we are), it was just that it made me a nervous wreck with them there.

But overall, it was worth it once and the kids had fun. They thought it was pretty cool. My 5 year old (at the time, he’s now 7) thought we should stay and live in the cave. Sorry buddy, I love nature and spending time outdoors but I don’t think I ever want to live in a cave.

It’s definitely worth checking out.

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