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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.

© Bud Schrader Photography
Ice Cone at Ash Cave - The top and bottom have actually met, but not in recent years. This got a lot closer, probably within 4' of each other.

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
Misty Trail at Ash Cave - Following two days of steady rain I was able to run out at the first hint of sun and was greeted with this amazing scene. Shot in December.

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.

© Bud Schrader Photography
Ash Cave, From Inside - This is deceiving, rather 2 1/2 D looking. The cave is one continuous formation-looks like separate formations. Look real hard.

Ash Cave Hiking Trail Map
Location Map
Calendar of Events
Creeking
Sun Sep 24

1:00 pm.

Take a closer look at the crawly critters that live in the creeks and streams around the Hocking Hills. Meet at the shelter house at Ash Cave. Please wear sturdy shoes and clothes you can get muddy. Flip flops are not recommended.

Cost: Free

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

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Ridgetops and Hollers
Sun Oct 1

9:00 am.

Ever wonder about the difference between a ridgetop and a holler.

Join the naturalist at Ash Cave parking area to discover what it is.

Cost: Free

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

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest,
Ash Cave Hike
Sat Oct 21

9:00 am.

Join the naturalist at the Ash Cave parking lot for a nice leisurely hike to Ash Cave. Learn about some local history and geology of this beautiful area.

Cost: Free

Contact: Hocking Hills State Park, Phone: 740-385-6165

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Wildlife,
Haunted Hocking: Spirits of Ash Cave
Fri Oct 27

7:00 pm.

Is Ash Cave really haunted or is it something else.......

Join the naturalist at the Ash Cave parking area to explore the possibilities.

This program does contain ghost stories. Please, No scaredy cats or other pets at Haunted Hocking.

Cost: Free

Contact: Hocking Hills State Park, Phone: 740-385-6165

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Wildlife,
Hocking Halloween Campout
Fri Oct 27Sat Oct 28Sun Oct 29

Hocking Halloween Campout 2017 Events for registered campground or cottage guests of the Hocking Hills State Park.

On Friday Join us at the Haunted Hocking Spirits of Ash Cave and find out if Ash Cave is really haunted or if it is something else. This program does contain ghost stories. Please, no pets at Haunted Hocking.

On Saturday

11:00 am - 12:00 pm. Pumpkin decorating at the Old Man's Cave Shelter house. Intended for children 12 and under. Adult Supervision required.

1:00 - 4:00 pm. Hayrides through the campground. Starts at main shower house.

6:00 pm Costume parade at the amphitheater.

7:00 - 8:00 pm Trick or Treat in the campground with the Best Decorated Campsite award given at 8:00pm.

8:30 pm. Halloween movies at the Amphitheater. Family Fun.

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

5-7pm.

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,
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