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Ash Cave

In the southernmost reaches of Hocking Hills is Ash Cave - beyond doubt the most spectacular feature of the entire park. Ash Cave is the largest, most impressive recess cave in the state.

The approach to Ash Cave is through a narrow gorge lined with stately hemlocks, massive beech trees and various other hardwoods. The valley floor offers brilliant displays of wildflowers in the all seasons including large flowered trillium, Dutchman's breeches, trout lily, Jack-in-the Pulpit and jewelweed. The narrow gorge is approximately one-fourth mile in length and with astonishing suddenness gives way to the tremendous overhanging ledge and cave shelter.

Frozen Cone -

The horseshoe-shaped cave is massive; measuring 700 feet from end to end, 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge with the rim rising 90 feet high. A small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek cascades over the rim into a small plunge pool below. The cave was formed like the others in this region; the middle layer of the Blackhand has been weathered or eroded while the more resistant upper and lower zones have remained intact.

Ash Cave is named after the huge pile of ashes found under the shelter by early settlers. The largest pile was recorded as being 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The source of the ashes is unknown but is believed to be from Indian campfires built up over hundreds of years. One other belief is that the Indians were smelting silver or lead from the rocks. Still another theory claims that saltpeter was made in the cave. No matter the source, several thousand bushels of ashes were found. A test excavation of the ashes in 1877 revealed sticks, arrows, stalks of coarse grasses, animal bones in great variety, bits of pottery, flints and corn cobs.

© Bud Schrader Photography
Ice Cone - The later shot of the cone that collapsed 2 days later. Sorry about the double signature.

It is obvious the cave was used for shelter by early inhabitants. The recess shelter also served as a workshop for Indians where maidens ground corn and prepared meals, and where braves fashioned arrow and spear points and skinned and dressed game. The cave provided a resting place for travelers along the main Indian trail which followed the valleys of Queer and Salt creeks. This trail connected the Shawnee villages and the Kanawha River region of West Virginia with their villages along the Scioto River at Chillicothe. The trail was used after the start of the frontier wars to march prisoners captured along the Ohio River to the Indian towns on the upper Scioto River. The old Indian trail is now State Route 56.

More recent uses of Ash Cave were for camp and township meetings. Pulpit Rock, the largest slump block at the cave's entrance served as the pulpit for Sunday worship service until a local church could be built. The cave lends itself well for large gatherings due to its enormous size and incredible acoustic qualities. In fact, two spots under the recess have the qualities of a "whispering gallery."

Picnic facilities are offered adjacent to the parking lot. The restrooms and trail leading to Ash Cave are wheelchair accessible.

Rim Trail -

Ash Cave Hiking Trail Map
Location Map
Calendar of Events
Hocking Halloween Campout
Fri Oct 27Sat Oct 28Sun Oct 29

Join with the Haunted Hocking HHIT team as they search for the unexplained at Ash Cave or try your hand at Pumpkin decorating.

Registered campers and cabin guests can enjoy a hayride, a family fun spooky movie, site judging, and trick or treat at Old Mans Cave campground. Regular camping cabin fees apply. Ever heard the ghostly woman's cry by Rose Lake at the Hocking Hills State Park campground. Or did you hear about the brakeman who was killed at Moonville Tunnel and who is still said to be swinging his lantern along the abandoned train tracks. What better way to savor the feeling of a good ghost story around the campfire than to jump right in and investigate it. Using an EMF detector to find out if that funny sound was a local bat or. . . maybe a ghost. Hocking Hills State Park Naturalist, Pat Quackenbush, local professional biologists, naturalists and ghost hunters, Haunted Hocking Investigation Team, take to the trails to try to demystify some of the local legends and ghost stories of the region. From owl calling to using night vision tools, visitors get a hands-on experience using authentic ghosts hunting equipment. And don't think for one minute everything has ever been explained on the hike. . . there have been more than a few things that are just simply left to mystery.

Cost: camping/cabin fees, free event

Contact: Hocking Hills State Park, Phone: 740-385-6842

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Frontier Trail Hike
Sun Nov 19

1-3 pm.

Learn and explore the history of the Ash Cave region with a walk back through time dramatized by costumed interpreters along the trail. Meet in the parking area.

Cost: Free

Contact: Hocking Hills State Park, Phone: 740-385-6841

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Arts/Music/Film, Historical,
Christmas in Ash Cave
Sat Dec 9


Step away from the hectic holiday season and come bundled for the weather to enjoy a candlelit stroll back to Ash Cave.

Once you arrive at the cave, warm up with refreshments by an open fire. Listen to or join with our carolers, have the kids visit with an old fashioned Santa or help to decorate our Christmas tree for wildlife.

Cost: Free

Contact: Hocking Hills State Park, Phone: 740-385-6561

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Arts/Music/Film, Wildlife,
Photo Gallery (click on an image to enlarge)
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