Finding Your Park: Exploring Hocking Hills


Madeline Walker


The beginning of the New Year is a time of reflection and a time of change. A chance to review and revise your life, to re-evaluate your priorities. With 2015 coming to a close, I am no different than anyone else in my quest to better myself, and have my best year yet. One thing that won’t change in this new year is my love of adventuring outdoors with friends. This rang true on New Year’s Day, when I went on a trip to Hocking Hills State Park with my friend, Jenna Hyman, and her family.

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The day was cold, but the sun was shining brightly. On the way to our trail we saw a sign reading “WARNING: CLIFF AREA” which was both unnerving, and compelling. Excited by the promise of the hike, we started over a footbridge that led to a steep trail along the rim of the creek. This brought us to a beautiful waterfall. The water poured steadily from the rocks above and splashed into the blue water below. After a minute or two to snap pictures we decided to move on with the hike.

We then headed up a set of steps carved in the stone taking us to the upper trail that ran along the ridge. We took stopping to enjoy the view and occasionally paused to take pictures. As the path climbed in elevation, we could see trails filled with hikers below. Next, we saw a waterfall from above. It was so awesome to watch the water go from a gentle creek, to a plummeting cascade so quickly. The water flooded over the embankment to the pool below.

At the half way point of our hike we came up on what was probably my favorite view of the day. We walked up this steep, grassy trial to a beautiful lake. The air was calm and the sun had just come out from behind the clouds. The lake was surrounded by pine trees and the blue and green reflected on the lake. It was one of those moments where you’re just really taken with the neatness of nature, it was so much fun.

However, my Zen attitude didn’t last for long. If I could give you any advice about being outside it would be to follow the cardinal rule of hiking. The cardinal rule of hiking is to wear comfortable shoes. Unfortunately I’m a big dummy who can’t follow my own advice. That’s how I ended up going on this long hike in tight, stiff combat boots from Kohls. I would not recommend that at all. This resulted in some pretty gnarly blisters, leaving me in flip flops for the remainder of winter break. I always say you learn something important and new on every hike; it just happens that that day’s lesson was a painful one. We continued on and walked over a suspension bridge that covered a quickly running river, the river that fed into Cedar Falls.

Cedar falls was our next big stop during the hike. This was the biggest waterfall we’d seen that day. We all wished we could have stayed longer, but the sun was beginning to set and we needed to start heading back.

Our walk back through the lowlands of the park was unique in its differences from the upper trail we had just been on. The upper trail was rocky, lined with pine trees, and had waterfalls that overlooked the landscape below. After cedar falls the trial changed dramatically. Instead of lofty overlooks and calm streams, the lower trail almost felt like a jungle. The collecting pools of water and spray fed into a wide creek. The huge face of the rock sheltered us from any wind from above and made for a warm hike back. The trail itself was not wide but rather thin and furrowed with roots. Large rocks covered with dark green moss retained a color that reminded me of summertime.

We finished the trip to Hocking Hills State Park tired but happy and satisfied with a good days hike. We climbed into the car as the sun finally set below the horizon and we reflected on the trip. On the drive home we all laughed as we looked through our camera rolls. If I’m being totally honest I was hard pressed not to fall asleep on that car ride home. I don’t think there’s any shame in that, falling asleep the happy kind of tired. I think that’s how all days should end, filled with memories made and lessons learned.

Hey! When you’re on your next adventure, be sure to check out the GHS BluePrints Spotify account. Follow us @GHSBluePrints and check out my new playlist, Finding your adventure.