Photos: Ash Cave at Hocking Hills
Ash cave is one of the many wonders of the Hocking Hills region. It was used for many years as a Native American gathering place because of its amphitheater like shape. The name, Ash Cave, came from all of the ashes that were found from their meetings.
Walking to the main part of the cave is a short walk through the woods, each step giving you a better look at the magnificent rock. Even though the temperature was mild, we could still see icicles hanging from cliffs along the way. Moss is very prevalent in this area and covered almost every rock with an enchanting layer of emerald green.
Many of the trees in the area have adapted to the rocky landscape by growing directly onto the rocks, letting their roots wrap around them, as if grasping onto the rock itself. Towards the entrance of the cave is a large rock, known as a slump rock, that fell into the river thousands of years ago and was used by the Native American chief during their gatherings.
While it is called a cave, it can better be described as a large overhang, engulfing the entire area around it. Towards the middle is a waterfall that changes from a steady flow to a trickle depending on the season. Beneath the waterfall is a large pool of water which also changes seasonally, from a tall ice mound in the dead of winter, to a beautiful pond in the summer.
When under the overhang, you can look out onto a vast forest of tall pine trees and you look up, you can see a multitude of colors, caused by the different rock sediments. Once you cross into the main part of Ash Cave, the ground slowly turns into sand, so much so that it feels like a beach.
You can slowly begin to climb up and into the cave, led by stairs that have been carved into the rock itself. As the elevation changes each view is different allowing the visitor to experience a full panoramic view of the cave. If you climb all the way to the top, you have the chance to walk around the top of the cave and onto more paths for further hiking.
All photos by Lillian Dent.
Disclaimer / Editor’s Note: Columbus Underground was invited to participate in the Comfort Food, Crystal Caves & Moonshine Media Tour in the Hocking Hills area in January 2016, and utilized the opportunity to send photography intern Lillian Dent on a multi-day photo shoot experience to hone her skills as a writer and a photographer. Food and lodging was provided to her free of charge as a part of the media tour event.