“Old Man’s Cave derives its name from the hermit Richard Rowe who lived in the large recess cave of the gorge. His family moved to the Ohio River Valley around 1796 from the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee to establish a trading post. He and his two dogs traveled through Ohio along the Scioto River in search of game. On one side trip up Salt Creek, he found the Hocking Region. Rowe lived out his life in the area and is buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave. Earlier residents of the cave were two brothers, Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, who came to the area in 1795. They built a permanent cabin 30 feet north of the cave entrance. Both brothers are buried in or near the cave. Their cabin was later dismantled and relocated on the nearby Iles farm to be used as a tobacco drying house.” Source: http://www.hockinghills.com/old_mans_cave.html You can also visit that link for more information.
The whole gorge trail is divided by 5 different sections. Those sections in order are, Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. There is signage in each area telling you where you are. You will see each area by walking the whole trail which is approximately a half mile. In the Hocking Hills area, there are other trails that you can hike leading to other nature trails. Or you can just get in your car and drive to the next one.
There is a lot of walking and for the most part the trails aren’t really difficult to navigate. There are a lot of places where you have to traverse over rock but most of those places have steps carved in to the stone or man made steps to pass certain areas. On of my favorite parts is walking across the stone bridge. You can get a beautiful view of the bottom gorge. There are also areas where it may be a little difficult if it has been raining. Sometimes the trails where there is more rock, the rock can be a little slippery.
There is a lot to take in, it’s so gorgeous. There’s a couple waterfalls and even though they aren’t that huge, they are still really pretty after having a bit of rainfall. There is one area of Old Man’s Cave that makes me cringe when we get to it. There’s a part of the hiking trail where you have to walk through a really long cave tunnel. That’s not the bad part. The bad part is that it is uphill and it gets pretty steep. There are steps you climb all the way to the top. This is toward the end of the hike – climbing back to the top of the gorge after going all the way down. It is very dark inside. The steps are usually a little slick. There are handrails all the way up which is very helpful.
My favorite part is the lower falls at the bottom. This is the bigger of the two waterfalls and it is really pretty. There’s a decent size pool of water and most people that hike the trails tend to wade out in it and stand under the falls. This is the part that makes the hike worth it. Of course the whole hike is worth it but the lower falls is a beautiful place to just hang out for a bit. Play in the water and get a rest before tackling the cave tunnel I mentioned above.
There are picnic areas before you enter the trails. We always bring food to cookout while we are there. It takes us about 3 hours to hike the whole trail with three kids. Plus we like to take our time while hiking. It’s really a great place to check out if you have never been. I would say the difficulty level for Old Man’s Cave is probably about a medium level.
I will be writing up some more posts about all the other hiking/nature parks in the same area. You can check out my post about Hocking Hills Ash Cave I have already written. Stay tuned for more!