Ash Cave is at the southern end of Hocking Hills State Park, which put it close to Lake Hope State Park. To reach the cave, you walk through a narrow gorge lined with hemlock, beech, oak, and maple trees. I’m sure it is a spectacular walk in the fall. The trail in to the cave is a paved accessibility trail only a 1/4 mile long. Dad grabbed his hiking pole and headed off down the trail, leaving the rest of us to catch up with him.
Because of the dense, tall trees, the gorge opens up suddenly at the cave. The overhanging ledge 90 feet above is impressive. The waterfall is not impressive in August – just a trickle from the East Fork of Queer Creek. There is a small pool under the fall of water and children and dogs were having a wonderful time playing in the pool. The cave is 100 feet deep and 700 feet around.
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 ashes are believed to be from Native American campfires built up over hundreds of years.
If you are able, the Ash Cave trail is a loop trail that climbs the gorge wall under the rim of the cave and then leads gradually back to the parking lot. It looked a little steep and narrow for us, so we returned the way we came, along the paved accessibility trail. Although the park suggests going this way if you are handicapped, they still have lots of signs saying “wrong way” and “turn around.” I suppose the signs keep the two way traffic down along the narrow, paved trail.