Monday, April 06, 2009

Hocking Hills Camping Vacation

Last week, Jennifer and I took our girls to Hocking Hills State Park for a 4 day / 3 night camping vacation in our new popup camper. We all had a blast!

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Here is how it all breaks down, day by day, and attraction by attraction. Note that there are a lot of candid shots at the bottom if you just want to scroll to them instead. :)

Wednesday

DSC09781We arrived at Top O’ the Caves Campground around 4:30 pm after a quick drive. Once we got checked in, Jennifer and I got the camper all “popped up” and got everything turned on. Immediately we started a fire and cooked ourselves some hotdogs and s’mores for a nice family dinner. I, of course, washed down with some nice Sam Adams beers. We were all very excited to get up early the next morning and start hiking.

Thursday

DSC09799 We woke up around 8am, after a very short night’s sleep. Jen and I weren’t sure how to work the heater or the electrical system on this new camper, so we did a lot of trial and error all night long. Needless-to-say, neither of us felt very rested when we woke up. Jen cooked up some yummy eggs, sausage, and ham on the gas grill before we headed out for our full day of hiking. Today’s agenda consisted of Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave.

Old Man’s Cave

DSC09826 Wow, what a beautiful place! We started off at the main parking area and walked through various mazes of paths to get to the actual “cave”. Once we got to the cave it was well worth the 1/2 mile trek with the kids. There were a few spots where I (as a grown adult) had to duck through various walk ways along the path. The girls had a blast and really wore themselves out here. We were going to continue along the trail to see what else it had to offer, but decided to turn back and head towards the picnic area for a quick bite to eat. We still had to visit two other places today and we didn’t want to get too tuckered out here.

Cedar Falls

This place was really neat as well. I’ve ran past it before and heard the falls while running the Indian Run, but I’d never actually seen it. The girls thought it was really cool because they were able to climb all over the rocks real close to the actual water fall. :)

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Ash Cave

DSC09915 This was the favorite of the day for everybody. We clearly saved the best for last. The cave was very big and had a magnificent water fall that fell over the caves’ ceiling. The girls especially liked it because it had a bunch of sand that they got to play in. The hike back to the cave was also nice because it was totally paved and we were able to let the girls pretty much take off and do what the wanted. Every other place today we had to watch them like hawks to prevent them from pummeling over a cliff.

After Ash Cave we all went to the Hocking Hills Dining Lodge and had a nice dinner. The place was really cool, we all sat near the window that was about 40 feet above the forest and you could see above all the trees for miles. We had a great time and filled up real good after our full day of hiking. By the time we got back to the campsite it was nearing 7pm, so I started a fire and we had some more s’mores then played cards in the popup (slap jack) before calling it a night.

Thursday was a great day!

Friday

It poured last night! And, I mean poured. I woke up a few times from the rain pounding down on the popup. It was loud and windy. The girls all slept pretty good, but Jennifer and I had another rough night of sleep. We finally “woke up” around 9am while the girls were all starting to get crazy and eat pop-tarts in the camper.

After Jen made a very yummy breakfast, we all put on our poncho’s and headed out for our second day of hiking in the Hocking Hills. We were pretty sure that we would be the only ones hiking today since it was still raining and very cold. Us Hardbargers don’t care! We’re hard core! Today’s agenda consisted of Cantwell Cliffs, Rock House, and Conkel’s Hollow.

Cantwell Cliffs

DSC09969 Heart attack! This was a very cool place, but man did it give us a few close calls with the 2 year old. :) The place consisted of an immediate decent through the rocks and many man-made stair cases in the rocks. The view’s were absolutely beautiful and there was nobody out today due to the weather. We had the whole place to ourselves and really got to spend as much time and be as loud as we wanted.

We did have one close call with Daizi way up on a cliff… She was walking along and then all the sudden, she tried to turn around and talk to Jazzy while walking and she started to drift. Luckily I saw it all in slow motion and stopped her. She was probably 2 feet from a 40 foot drop off; I decided to carry her the remainder of the hike. Phew!

After this hike, we all headed into the town of Logan and had a nice sit-down lunch at a small cafe. The girls were absolutely tuckered out already from all the steps at Cantwell Cliffs. We thought it was a nice time to stop and pump them full of carbs and protein before heading out to the other locations…

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Rock House

This was a very cool place! It was basically a bunch tunnels in the side of a cliff. All the rain and river water that flows over a cliff erodes the wall back and creates these caves in the rock. The girls loved it! We got a lot of really cool pictures and had a blast at this place. It goes without saying that we had this park to ourselves as well because the weather was cold and wet. Some might say that the weather sucked, but we loved it of course. :)

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Conkle’s Hollow

DSC00087 This was (by far) my favorite of the whole trip. It wasn’t part of the Hocking Hills State Park, rather it was a State Nature Preserve (similar to Blackhand Gorge) within the boundaries of Hocking Hills State Park. There was an upper trail and a lower trail. The upper trail was a 2 1/2 mile single path journey around the gorge, whereas the lower loop was a 1/2 mile paved trail into the gorge. We decided to stay on the lower trail and take our time.

Every step of the way was absolutely gorgeous. There might be a 140 foot cliffs on one side and a mossy green cave wall on the other side with a water fall. I can’t remember how many times I told Jennifer that it was my favorite place. When we got to the end of the 1/2 mile hike, it was the grand finale of beauty. There were 3 water falls that fed the stream we just walked down. I would have never guessed that the stream we were following was fed by 3 immaculate water falls.

DSC00059 If you get a chance to visit Hocking Hills State Park, be sure to take the time to visit Conkle’s Hollow, and walk the entire and lower path to the end. It’s a very pretty and slow stroll through Mother Nature’s finest work.

Conclusion

We all had a great time and the girls created memories that I’m sure they’ll cherish forever. I know that Jennifer and I sure did. Here are some random pictures that I feel are “share-worthy”:

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The end.

5 comments:

Jim Holmes said...

Dude! You've blogged about our favorite escape! We stay at a cabin not far from that campground, but will likely schlep our pop-up over that way this summer.

You called out a few places that we've not visited, so I'm adding them to our list for the next visit.

Great post!

Nick said...

Hey Luc, we missed you at the Fools Race, but I can bet you had a better time.

Time for some Mohican training.....

Mike Copeland said...

Really enjoyed your blog post and pics. Looks like a GREAT place to camp.

Mike Copeland
Newnan, GA

tim said...

Cool pics. Looks like you guys had a blast. I can't wait until our son is old enough to enjoy camping and hiking

Rob "Buckeye" Powell said...

Oh that looks like so much fun! I need camping.