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Updated with 2023 dates.
Are you interested in outdoor recreation opportunities in Ohio this winter? Today I’m sharing things to do in Hocking Hills during the cold weather.
Hocking Hills is picturesque any time of year, but when winter hits and the region is blanketed with a layer of snow and the waterfalls slowly turn to ice, the scenery becomes that much more magical.
Hocking Hills, located in southeast Ohio has held a piece of my heart since my first visit many years ago. It is a destination that I visit repeatedly and one that I highly suggest to friends and family traveling through Ohio.
Hocking Hills is truly one of my favorite Ohio Winter Getaways.
Though you may be tempted to visit during warmer weather, there are two unique events that draw visitors to the area in January- the Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike and the Frozen Festival.
If your visit doesn’t align during one of the event weekends, continue reading because I share tips and ideas to help you enjoy your winter visit no matter when you arrive.
There’s something to be said about the peaceful hush that envelopes the Hocking Hills region during the laid-back winter months.
With fewer crowds and beautiful scenery, outdoor lovers and romantics will love spending time traversing the trails or relaxing in a cozy cabin while soaking in a hot tub for two.
Things to do in Hocking Hills during the Winter
Looking for more to do in Hocking Hills throughout the year? Read 50 of the Best Things to do in Hocking Hills. Many of these suggestions work during the winter too.
Take a Winter Hike
Outdoor lovers will enjoy hitting the trails for the 57th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike takes place Saturday, Jan. 21st, 2023. The hike features continuous starts from 9-11 a.m.
The six-mile trek takes you from Old Man’s Cave to Ash Cave and offers some of the most spectacular scenery in the Midwest. 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 Kiwanis Club serves hot bean soup and cornbread muffins at Cedar Falls which is about the halfway point. The food is free but donations are appreciated and encouraged.
A shuttle bus will return hikers from Ash Cave to the Old Man’s Cave parking lot.
Make sure you don’t forget your camera or phone so that you can shoot photos and videos along the way. The scenery really is that spectacular and definitely Instagram-worthy.
If you can’t visit during the annual hike, no worries, the trails are still open for you to enjoy. Simply keep a few more tips in mind.
I had the opportunity to do some winter hiking in Hocking Hills last year and will add if you plan to join the hike, make sure you’re prepared with the proper attire. Layered clothing and warm footwear with lots of traction are a must.
Winter Hiking Tips in Hocking Hills
- Stop at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center for trail maps and suggestions.
- Do not deviate from the marked trails.
- Choose the right footwear. If your feet are cold your whole body will be cold. Wear waterproof hiking boots designed for cold weather that offer good traction in snow and ice. Keep metal cleats in your backpack and attach to your boots if you encounter ice on the trail. If you’re not sure what type of cleats to purchase, I recommend Yaktrax.
- Wear multiple pairs of socks — as many pairs as you can comfortably fit with your boots on. You can always take some off if you get too warm. Carry extra dry socks in a waterproof bag in your backpack, just in case. Wigwam socks are my favorite socks when spending time outdoors in the winter.
- Use trekking poles or cross-country ski poles for extra stability.
- Hydrate. Hydrate. Make sure to pack water in your backpack. Energy bars, granola bars or nuts are another good idea.
- Keep your head and hands covered. Depending on the temperature, you may opt to wear a ski mask to cover your face as well.
- Layer your clothes. Multiple layers allow you to remove items if you warm up during the hike. I start with UnderArmour Coldgear products and go from there.
- Check the weather forecast before you hit the trails.
- Carry a compass and map with you. You’ll find cell service is minimal to none in the parks and you likely won’t have any service so use caution. If you’re hiking alone, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return.
- As I mentioned before, don’t forget your camera. Old Man’s Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave are stunning in the snow.
The 6th Annual Logan Frozen Festival
If hiking six miles isn’t your idea of fun, you may enjoy the Frozen Festival. In its sixth year, the event dazzles visitors with more than two dozen massive 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, 2024 event will also feature local arts and crafts, food trucks, local dining, and more- a fun event the entire family can enjoy!
Enjoy Down Home Comfort Food
In the past, the area hosted the Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise. Unfortunately, that was paused in 2020 but the good news is that you can still experience the wonderful flavors of the Hocking Hills region by visiting the many area restaurants. While previously held in January, it has been moved to March 4, 5, 11, and 12 for 2023.
This year, the Hocking Hills Comfort Food Cruise will feature twelve locally-owned restaurants that will serve serving up comfort foods from Banana Bread French Toast (Hocking Hills Diner) to Beef & Noodles over Mashed Potatoes (Jack’s Steak House) to Pulled Pork Slider & White Mac & Cheese (Home Tavern). Breakfast will be served as early as 7 am and continue into the evening each day. Tickets are only $20 per person and allow you to support small businesses and contribute to the local food pantries. $5 of every ticket sold is donated to the local food pantries.
Whether you visit the area for the Comfort Food Cruise or not, you’ll find delicious comfort foods served anytime of year in the Hocking Hills region.
Believe me when I say that you will not go hungry when visiting. Here is a list of some of the Hocking Hills Restaurants my husband and I have enjoyed from our many trips to the area.
- M & M Family Diner
- Hocking Hills Diner
- Boot Factory Grill
- Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
- Millstone Barbeque
- Olde Dutch Restaurant
- Pizza Crossing
Some of my favorite Hocking Hills lodging options include:
Cedar Grove Lodging, part of Cedar Hill Retreat sleeps up to 26, with smaller cabins on the property for couples or single-family units. The location, directly off State Route 664 is ideal and near Old Man’s Cave and Rock House and has a hot tub so you can relax after a day on the trails.
Ohio Luxury Lodging has options for 2-26 people. I’ve stayed and written about Laurel Run Farm, Rush Resort, and Bookers Cabin and can’t recommend these 5-star properties enough. You should read my reviews to see what I loved about each property.
Glenlaurel is another favorite getaway. Touted as indulgent, upscale, and romantic, once you arrive at Glenlaurel, you may stay onsite rather than venture out. That’s what my husband and I did anyway. Our visit was perfect and the six-course (and seven-course) meal was incredible.
The cabins at Hocking Hills State Park are also a comfortable and affordable option for families. Don’t forget about the brand-new lodge that opened last fall. In addition to an indoor pool and hot tub, they also have large family rooms and an on-site restaurant.
If you’re looking for something really unique, you may want to check out the new Hobbit-inspired tiny houses or Ravenwood Castle. Both properties are a short drive from Ash Cave, and the frozen waterfall is gorgeous to see if the weather is cold enough.
Other things to do in Hocking Hills in Winter
- Check out the World’s largest collection of pencil sharpeners in the only known Pencil Sharpener Museum.
- Take a photo with the World’s Largest Washboard at the Columbus Washboard Company (and Museum).
- Drink a Peach Wine Slushy at Hocking Hills Winery.
- Shop at Rocky Outdoor Gear Store.
- Tour the Sherman House and Georgian Museums in Lancaster.
- Take a self-guided covered bridge tour.
- Tour the Ohio Glass Museum. As a collector of milk glass, this stop really appeals to me.
- Shop for antiques at the Logan Antique Mall or one of the other antique shops in the area.
- Visit the Wind Chime Shop for a unique shopping experience.
- Make your own candle at Hocking Hills Candleworks.
- Bundle up and take a walking (or driving) architecture tour of downtown Logan.
- Learn about Moonshine and the history of Prohibition at Hocking Hills Moonshine.
- My favorite thing to do now is to rent the Sauna Pod at Hocking Hills Chalet for an hour and relax after a day spent outdoors.
For more ideas of things to do in Hocking Hills in the winter, visit ExploreHockingHills.com.
Have you been to Hocking Hills? What do you love to do when you visit?