What is Ash Cave in Hocking Hills and How did it Form?

Ash Cave is an extremely unique geological feature called a “recess cave”. In fact, Ash Cave is the largest one east of the Mississippi River, this is the top place to go in Hocking Hills – so make sure you are prepared for it to be busy doing the summer and fall colors.

Ash Cave got it’s name because the Native Americans lived here for a long period of time and when the Europeans found it there were massive amounts of ash built up from their fires. When you see it you’ll understand why they lived here, it looks like an awesome place to build a house, even now!

Ash cave is overwhelmingly huge! It is 700 feet long and about 100 feet in height, there is a nice creek that runs over the top cascading into a pretty spectacular waterfall which varies from a trickle during dry months to a full on deluge during wet times – especially combined with snow melt.

Ash cave formed because the rock that makes it up is a stronger rock than what it was surrounded by and thus the harder rock remains mostly in tact to this day.

Hiking to Ash Cave

Hocking Hills has a walk-able trail that will take you to every sight to see in the park, however I am going to talk about the hiking trails from the parking lot.

There are two trails to get to the cave, one is handicap friendly.

Handicap Friendly Path – This is a level concrete path and is obviously very easy to walk. This takes you right to the overhang in the cave but in the cave it’s full of sand.

Hiking Trail – The other trail starts by the map and goes up about 50 feet or so and plateaus then goes down to the cave via stairs. This path can be quite slippery and is a bit unever but overall its still a pretty easy hike. The full park trail intersects here and I would highly recommend hiking up to the top of the falls!

On the stairs at the entrance to the cave you can see the freshest sand ever, it’s falling straight off of the sand stone rocks. I thought it was very neat.

How to Get to Ash Cave

Ash cave is at the far south end of the official park, however it’s a quick 10 minute drive from the State Park Campground.

Directions from the State Park Campground:

  • Turn right out of the parking lot
  • turn right at the first road
  • continue on this road for a couple miles
  • Keep left at the turn (you can take a pit stop to visit fire tower if you wish)
  • Go past the Cedar Falls Parking lot and the Inn at Cedar Falls
  • then follow the road until it dead ends and turn right.
  • Ash Cave will be about a 1/4 mile on the right.