Fall at Hocking Hills State Park campground

Go-To Camping at Hocking Hills State Park

Photo: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Set up a basecamp in this southeast Ohio outdoor adventure mecca.

While camping is one of the most fun ways to spend a summer evening—stoking the fire, roasting marshmallows, stargazing—you want to have plenty of adventures to fill your days, too. This is where the Hocking Hills deliver. Round out a camping trip in this Ohio outdoor fun zone known for its waterfalls and caves with hiking, paddling, mountain biking, zip-lining and rock climbing. You’ll need more than one weekend to do it all.

Camping Options 

Choose your level of adventure based on needs, plus your desired level of comfort (or solitude). 

Car camping 

The Hocking Hills State Park campground is as central as you can get to the action. You can hike directly from the campground to Old Man’s Cave or Rose Lake. Choose from non-electric ($27 weekdays/$28 weekends April 1–Oct. 31, $25 Nov. 1–March 31), electric ($31/32, $29) or full-hookup ($45/45, $29) sites. Each campsite has a picnic table and a fire ring. The campground does fill up, so be sure to reserve a site, especially in the summer and on weekends. While the campground is open year-round, water is shut off for the full-hookups in the winter.  

Walk-in camping 

Just across the road from the main campground is the family hike-in campground. You’ll need to schlep your gear about a half-mile to your site (time to test out your backpacking setup), complete with a picnic table and fire ring. The payoff? No endless stream of cars driving by all night. This spot is more secluded and quiet compared to the car camping, so keep your ears open for the call of the barred owl. Bonus: The mountain biking trails start right here. Be prepared to leave your food in the car or have a food hanging system. ($23 weekdays/$24 weekends, $2 surcharge for a holiday; closed Dec.–March.) 

Cabins and lodge 

If you want the adventure minus the camping, Hocking Hills State Park also has cabins ($140-$160, plus a $6.50 reservation fee), plus the newly opened Hocking Hills State Park Lodge. The original lodge burned down in 2016 and the new one features 81 rooms and indoor and outdoor pools. 

Two children by a campfire in Hocking Hills at the campground Photo: Ohio Department of Natural Resources

Hocking Hills Activities 

There is no shortage of outdoor adventures to launch straight from the campground, though the hikes are certainly one of the park’s greatest regional draws.


The hiking trifecta of the park includes Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls and Ash Cave—the finale being a 90-foot-tall, 700-foot-wide recess cave, complete with a waterfall, that would be an attraction anywhere in the world. A quarter-mile paved trail to Ash Cave makes it wheelchair accessible, so you can bring anyone along with your group. If you want to go farther afield, that’s no problem: Ash Cave is situated along the Grandma Gatewood Trail, which in turn is part of the statewide Buckeye Trail that continues for 1,400 miles. 


Bring your own boat, rent one or go with a full-service livery to paddle the Hocking River or Lake Logan. Hint: If you paddle the Hocking River, be sure to make a stop at Rockbridge State Nature Preserve where a short trail from the riverbank takes you to the state’s longest rock bridge, spanning 50 feet.

Mountain biking 

With only 4 miles of singletrack, Hocking Hills State Park isn’t a mountain biking destination, per se, but it is certainly worth bringing your wheels if you’re already planning to go. Even better, the trails begin right at the walk-in campground, so you don’t have to drive them to the trailhead after you arrive. There are two contiguous trails—the Orange Loop and the Purple Loop—both of which are relatively flowy for a place with steep ridges. You may have to do laps, or for more mileage, head down state Route 33 for 40 minutes to the Baileys Trail System


Southeast Ohio has enough topographic relief to support zip-lining courses, and the Hocking Hills region has three: Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, Ultimate Zipline Adventures and Valley Zipline Tours. Zip-lining has become a must-do on the Hocking Hills checklist. 

Climbing and rappelling 

Adjacent to Hocking Hills State Park is Hocking State Forest, which has a state-sanctioned rock climbing and rappelling area. If you don’t have the gear or the know-how, no worries. There are local guide services to get you on the rock.

Getting There 

Take U.S. Highway 33 east from Columbus; it’s one hour to Logan, where you go south on state Route 664 for 10 miles to the campground entrance on the left. More info: ohiodnr.gov

Refresh & Refuel 

If you need to grab a sandwich for lunch, head to Hocking Hills classic Grandma Faye’s. For dinner, Kindred Spirits restaurant at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls is little more than a stone’s throw from the camping; a reservation is strongly recommended. 

All articles are for general informational purposes.  Each individual’s needs, preferences, goals and abilities may vary.  Be sure to obtain all appropriate training, expert supervision and/or medical advice before engaging in strenuous or potentially hazardous activity.