Just south of the hustle and bustle of the capital city of Columbus is Ohio’s Hocking Hills region, a densely forested area dotted with enormous cliffs, gaping gorges, towering waterfalls, damp caves and sprawling lakes. Home to numerous state parks, state forests, nature preserves and the glistening blue waters of Lake Logan and Lake Hope, the region provides opportunities for rock climbing, fishing and bird-watching, as well as hundreds of miles of hiking, mountain biking and horseback riding trails. While rental cabin rates often rise dramatically during the summer, particularly on weekends, you can still find affordable accommodations scattered throughout the area.
At the Center of It All
Book a cabin found in the small town of South Bloomingville and you’ll find yourself in the heart of the 2,356-acre Hocking Hills State Park. At Deer Watch Cabins, set on 40 acres of forested property where deer and fox often run wild, the cabins include fully-equipped kitchens and private hot tubs on a covered deck. The grounds are just a five-minute drive from Ash Cave, a massive recess cave with a rim that spans 700 feet and is lined with a waterfall. Getaway Cabins provides cabins scattered throughout the park. The cozy Lady Bug Loft, perfect for two, is located on the main property in South Bloomingville and offers an outdoor deck with a dining table, hot tub and gas grill. There are also two ponds on the property for an afternoon of catch-and-release fishing.
Rock This Way
You’ll find inexpensive cabins near Rockbridge State Nature Preserve, home to the largest natural bridge in Ohio, an arch more than 100 feet long and up to 20 feet wide. Thunder Ridge Cabins in Rockbridge has two rustic cabins, dubbed Bird’s Nest and Wolf’s Den, which sleep two adults. Wolf’s Den includes an outdoor hot tub on its private deck. Complimentary breakfast is served in the main house each morning, but you can request to have it delivered directly to your cabin. There’s also a communal fire pit where you can warm yourself under the evening sky or roast marshmallows. Three Reasons Farms Horse Camp caters to horse lovers with its access to bridle trails and on-site horse stalls and pastures. The bunkhouse comes complete with a barbecue grill and fire ring.
Relaxing on the Water
Stay at a cabin near Lake Logan State Park, where you can spend the day boating, swimming and fishing from the lake stocked with catfish, bluegill and crappie. Less than 15 minutes by car from Lake Logan, Lazy Lane Cabins provides basic accommodations with its Windsong and Echo camping cabins. The rustic cabins have electricity but you’ll have to get your water from an outdoor spigot and cook over an open flame on a charcoal grill. You’ll also have a private key to a nearby bathhouse. Nearby Whispering Pines Cabins has a one-bedroom cabin. The small Whippoorwill cabin, just a 10-minute drive from the lake, includes a full kitchen, hot tub and fire ring.
Off the Beaten Path
Head to the far eastern end of the Hocking Hills region, to Wayne National Forest, a quarter-million-acre woods with mountain bike trails, scenic drives and beaches along the shores of Lake Vesuvius. Based in Nelsonville, Settle Down Cabin is surrounded by 5 acres of wooded property. Unwind in your private outdoor hot tub and on the porch swing before warming yourself by the cabin’s gas fireplace. In the west end of Hocking Hills is the quaint town of Chillicothe. The sleepy, old-fashioned downtown is lined with Victorian architecture, the 1853 Majestic Theatre and cozy sidewalk cafes. Fifteen minutes outside the city are the Walnut Creek Cabins where the Papa Bear, Mama Bear and Baby Bear cabins sleep four and include lofts, porch swings, picnic tables and outdoor fire rings with wood.