WORTH THE DRIVE: Hocking Hills ranks among nation’s most beautiful, popular state parks

Credit: Amy Weirick

Credit: Amy Weirick

Travel Lens, an online travel publication, has ranked Hocking Hills State Park among the fastest growing, most beautiful and most Instagrammed U.S. state parks, according to a recent study.

The team at Travel Lens analyzed Yelp and TripAdvisor reviews, Instagram popularity and Google search data to put together a list of state parks that are sure to inspire your next trip.

Credit: Amy Weirick

Credit: Amy Weirick

Here are highlights about Hocking Hills from the Travel Lens study:

  • The park ranked fourth among the most beautiful state parks following Virginia’s Grayson Highlands in third place, Vermont’s Smugglers’ Notch in second place and Michigan’s Porcupine Mountains Wilderness in first place.
  • The park came in sixth place in popularity with 2,129,500 searches between Oct. 2020 and Sept. 2021 compared to 3,637,000 searches between Oct. 2021 and Sept. 2022.
  • The park came in third place among most Instagrammed with 248,287 posts, following Nevada’s Valley of Fire with 285,304 posts and New York’s Niagara Falls with 3,526,461 posts.

“With more than 13,000 acres of unbroken forest, travelers give the region five-star reviews for spectacular scenery marked by deep gorges, lush forests, soaring rock faces, unique rock formations and stunning waterfalls,” a press release from Hocking Hills said. “The Hocking Hills region’s unique outdoor and arts experiences sparked a record number of searches and positive reviews, causing it to surge in popularity.”

The release explained the park offers miles of wooded trails in addition to local artists opening their studios for glass blowing, painting or ceramics; unique galleries, gift and antique shops; and many other activities and events.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) is hosting its 57th Annual Hocking Hills Winter Hike at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 21.

“Winter is such a special time at Hocking Hills, when the cold weather adds to the already stunning scenery,” said ODNR Director Mary Mertz. “Over a 6-mile journey, hikers can enjoy and appreciate breathtaking landscapes, gorgeous waterfalls, caves, and rugged cliffs. It is a truly memorable experience that keeps people coming back year after year.”

The hike begins at the entrance to Upper Falls/Old Man’s Cave and winds past Lower Falls and Cedar Falls, ending at Ash Cave. ODNR said those interested can meet at the Visitors Center, located at 19852 State Route 664 in South Logan. Refreshments will be available upon arrival and at the mid-way point.

If you’re planning a weekend at Hocking Hills, the release suggested the following lodging options: cabin in the woods, cottage, hotel or country inn, treehouse, yurt, geodome or hobbit house. Hocking Hills opened a new lodge and conference center in Oct. 2022.

For more information about the state park, visit www.explorehockinghills.com or call 1-800-HOCKING (1-800-462-5464).

Hocking Hills is located in Logan, particularly on the Hocking River, 48 miles southeast of Columbus.

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