Travel Trifecta: Hocking Hills Hike, Frozen Festival, Comfort Food

Old Man’s Cave is a winter wonderland of a site. The 53rd annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike sets off Jan. 20 from Old Man’s Cave and hikers walk six miles to Ash Cave. Photo Provided

Logan, Ohio — January is the time to visit Ohio’s Hocking Hills, which will draw visitors from around the globe for three weekends packed with events and activities.

The 53rd annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike takes place Saturday, Jan. 20, kicking off the day at 9 a.m. with a 6-mile trek from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave.

The Winter Hike draws thousands of hikers each year to experience the midwest’s most magnificent scenery.

The region’s gorgeous rock formations, soaring cliffs, deep gorges and stunning waterfalls freeze to icy, crystal sculptures, making the Hocking Hills one of the Buckeye State’s most popular winter destinations.

The hike features continuous starts from 9-11 a.m. Hot bean soup, served midway at Cedar Falls, is free, though donations are encouraged. A shuttle bus will return hikers from Ash Cave to the Old Man’s Cave parking lot.

 Hikers are advised to wear layered clothing and good traction footwear, as snow and ice can make the trail slippery.

They’re also encouraged to shoot photos and videos of the region’s majestic winter beauty and to post them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.

 “Winter is truly a magical time in the Hills, as visitors have the chance to immerse themselves in a spectacular winter wonderland,” said Hocking Hills Tourism Association Executive Director Karen Raymore. “Travelers can enjoy even more fun by experiencing the Winter Hike, the Frozen Festival and the Comfort Food Cruise.”

In addition to the Annual Winter Hike, the Frozen Festival is in its third year, dazzling visitors with more than two dozen mammoth glittering ice sculptures, ice carving demonstrations, live music, ice corn hole, a giant ice photo frame and an ice throne — perfect for selfies. The Jan. 20 event also features local arts and crafts, food trucks, local dining and more.

The Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise, which spans three weekends, is offered Jan. 13-14, 20-21 and 26-27, and benefits local food pantries. For a fee, participants can visit a dozen stops for hefty samples of favorite comfort foods, such as meatloaf, chicken and noodles, biscuits and gravy, and pumpkin bread pudding. A bonus stop at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center is also the place to buy tickets, enjoy cinnamon rolls and pick up a complimentary souvenir kitchen cutting mat. Tickets are available online, via mail or in person at the Regional Welcome Center.  

Located 40 miles southeast of Columbus and about 130 miles from Wheeling, Hocking Hills offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make every day feel like Saturday, with plenty of admission-free activities. The region boasts a wide variety of affordable lodging, from camping, cabins and cottages to hotels and inns. In addition to hiking trails, parks and forests, Hocking Hills is the canopy tour capital of the Midwest, with 55 ziplines being offered via three distinct guide services. Unique gift and antique shops, canoeing, horseback riding, golf, spas and more add to the allure of Hocking Hills as the perfect place to unplug. Complete traveler information is available at or 800-462-5464.