Playing tourist

old mans cave bridge

Last week, we hosted family at Marsh Hollow. We decided to play tourist and pretend we were visiting too. I think our itinerary turned out to be a pretty good plan for a day trip to the Hocking Hills, or for just one of your vacation days if you’re staying in the Hills. We left the house at 10 am and returned home just after 4 pm to give you an idea about how long our tour lasted. Note: click on photos for larger views but only if you have a good Internet connection.

Jack Pine Studio furnacesJack Pine Studio

Our first stop was Jack Pine Studio on Route 180, about 10 minutes from Marsh Hollow.  Jack Pine is an artist who creates blown glass masterpieces. We were amazed as soon as we stepped into the showroom, where many of Pine’s beautiful art pieces are on display and for sale, along with work of other glass artists and craftsmen. The Studio’s other glass artists also create affordable blown glass pieces, with a heavy emphasis on pumpkins. A very cool (or hot!) feature of this studio, is that they are making glass pieces every day and visitors can watch art being created. Practicalities: they have a single indoor restroom, very clean.

Rock House

Inside Rock House

Inside Rock House with flash camera

Our next stop was Rock House, the only true cave in the Hocking Hills. There was dispute in our group about whether or not it is truly a cave since there’s so much light in it. Here’s the definition of cave from Wikipedia, which I think supports the “cave” designation:

cave or cavern is a natural void in the ground, specifically a space large enough for a human to enter. Caves often form by the weathering of rock and often extend deep underground. The word cave can also refer to much smaller openings such as sea cavesrock shelters, and grottos, though strictly speaking a cave is exogene, meaning it is deeper than its opening is wide, and a rock shelter is endogene.

Hikers at Rock House steps

At the steps up to Rock House

Rock House trail is all downhill to get to the cave area, then hikers must climb up some old rock steps to get to the cave entrance. It is dark inside. Have your phone flashlight ready for the dark spots. After exploring the cave you will continue on the trail up and out of the gorge. It’s not as steep or long as the downhill.  Practicalities: We’ve taken small children and dogs to Rock House in the past, but it is definitely less stressful with an all adult group. Also, you will be glad you used the restroom at Jack Pine when you walk past the one at Rock House.

Conkles Hollow

Our next stop was supposed to be the gorge trail at Conkles Hollow State Nature Preserve on Big Pine Rd., about 11 minutes from Jack Pine Studio. As we turned onto Big Pine from Route 374, we saw that the road was closed. A worker told us a bridge had just been torn out and advised us of a long detour. We decided to skip this short gorge trail and head out to our next stop, which was lunch at….

Grandma Fayes

Grandma Fayes Grocery and Deli is a Hocking Hills institution and only 5 minutes from Conkles Hollow. Their motto is “if you forgot it, we probably have it.” Our lunch was delicious! Among the five of us we enjoyed: haddock sandwich, deep fried mac ‘n cheese bites, deep fried mushrooms, french fries, pizza sub, tuna sandwich, and turkey swiss cheese sandwich. Our only criticism was that the buns/bread were just so-so. Practicalities: this was a heavier lunch than most of us needed. I think we all could have napped. Pack a lunch, but stop here for the mac ‘n cheese bites to share. Also save your restroom needs for the next stop.

Hocking Hills Visitor Center

Hocking Hills Visitor Center

New Hocking Hills Visitor Center

It took us about 5 minutes to drive to the brand new Hocking Hills Visitor Center at Old Man’s Cave.  There are very informative exhibits about the region’s history, development and natural resources, plus great trail information. There’s a small cave for the little ones to explore, detailed information about the trail system, seating and convenient access to the Old Man’s Cave trail system. A small gift shop with Hocking Hills themed merchandise is also on site. Practicalities: The water bottle filling stations are just what every hiker needs. The restrooms are large and clean.

Old Man’s Cave

Hiker in small cave

Small cave at Old Mans Cave

Several entrances to the Old Man’s Cave trail system are steps away from the Visitor Center. We hiked down into the gorge, where I got completely disoriented because it wasn’t my usual way into this site. However, others got me righted and we headed to the Devil’s Bathtub, which did not have much water in it. We then hiked along a nearly people-less trail, across the awesome bridge pictured at the top of this post with my dancer cousin posing on it, to Old Man’s Cave. We thought about hiking to the lower falls’ basin, but the thought of hiking UP the steps, then down, then back UP again, wore us out. So we ended up exiting the gorge near the Naturalist’s Cabin, then back to the car. There is so much more to do at Old Man’s Cave, but we had one more stop on our tour and needed to get home by 4 pm.

Ash Cave

The falls at Ash Cave in skummer

Summer falls at Ash Cave

Ash Cave was our final destination, about 10 minutes by car from Old Man’s Cave or a six mile hike along the gorge trail, plus six miles back to your car. We wanted to leave on a positive note. The Ash Cave trail is very short and completely flat (wheelchair accessible). It’s a paved trail until you reach the actual rock shelter. There was very little water in the falls, but the spectacularly high rock shelter impresses even without water. Practicalities: This is a great destination if you’re touring with little kids.

It took about 20 minutes to return to Marsh Hollow. Some took the opportunity for a nice soak in the hot tub. Others started to gather ingredients for dinner. At least one checked into work online. One sat in a rocker on the front porch and just enjoyed this little slice of heaven we call home.

Last practicalities: To avoid crowds, visit the Hocking Hills during the week. Our tour occured after the start of school so that helped too. If you must visit during busier times, go early or late to the various sites. Take a long break in the middle of the day. And visit during off season, generally November through mid-March. Our lodging rates go down, along with the crowds.

Happy hiking!

Mary at Marsh Hollow

Fine dining at Glenlaurel Inn

Last Friday, Dave and I celebrated our wedding anniversary with an exquisite dinner at the Glenlaurel Inn, here in the Hocking Hills. Located about 20 minutes from Marsh Hollow, the Inn has been offering luxury accommodations (and luxury pricing) and fine dining since 1994, with a Scottish theme. We’ve never stayed there but have dined there a few times over the years. We’ve never been disappointed!

Dinner reservations are required and can’t be made until Inn management knows there will be enough dining space to accommodate outsiders. Their own guests come first of course. We made our reservations three days ahead, the earliest we could. However there were still a few empty tables at our Friday meal.

Check out the menu:

Glenlaurel Inn menu

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

There is only one seating at 7 pm, but you may enjoy cocktails, beer and wine in the pub, 5-7 pm. When it’s time for dinner, you’re told which dining room is yours. After seating you at your table, with lovely place cards, the server reads a short poem. Then the six course meal begins. Friday is seafood night which is why we decided to go then even though it was not exactly our anniversary. Saturday nights are extra special with a bagpiper in full regalia piping guests into dinner.

We were so glad to learn that Glenlaurel Inn is still offering the most elegant dining in the Hocking Hills. For more information, visit their web site at https://www.glenlaurel.com.

Mary at Marsh Hollow

 

 

An afternoon’s drive in the Hocking Hills and nearby Vinton County

We are planning a short family vacation at Lake Hope State Park, which is only about 45 minutes away from Marsh Hollow. Dave and I decided we wanted to visit first, to make sure we thought it would suit ages 3 to 78. Yes it will! Anyway, the park has lots to offer, from cabins to camping, to a small beach, marina, hiking trails, archery range, truly tasty dining at the lodge, mountain biking trails (I think it might be the no. one place for this in Ohio), a nature center….and lots of chill time. This would also make a nice day trip from Marsh Hollow….so stay here and go there.

The next stop on our drive was the new Hemlock Bridge Trail at the Hocking Hills State Park. If you follow our Facebook page, you might know that I went to the dedication and vowed to hike this trail soon. So here it is mid-June, and I have not. We are planning a creek bridge replacement at Marsh Hollow and wanted to get some ideas from the swinging bridge construction.We hiked part of it, but the park is not wrong to rate this as moderate to difficult. It is not appropriate for small children.  We were not prepared so turned back. Wear your hiking boots and bring your walking stick. Even though we only got to the turnoff to Whispering Cave then turned back, this hike is gorgeous.

Our final stop was at Jimbo’s Burgers & Beer, on State Route 56 in South Bloomingville. It is under new management and has been completely remodeled. We sat outside, as it was a beautiful June evening. The outdoor sound system was very nice. They are open Thursdays through Sundays so very much geared to the tourist trade. The mushroom-swiss burger was very tasty and large. You can have it on a pretzel bun or gourmet bun. Fries were also very, very good. The coleslaw was delicious but I generally prefer more cabbage and less dressing on mine.

Although we didn’t spend any time inside (except restrooms which are new and spotless), we could see that it was very nice, a mix of tables and booths and multiple big screen TVs. There is also a jukebox, which hopefully offers up more than boomer music.

It is also family friendly so yes, bring the kids. The menu includes more than burgers and the beer list is good. Hey, they offer Corona and Blue Moon, and all the traditional Bud and Miller stuff plus 1 IPA. We will go back for sure.

Mary at Marsh Hollow

Mother’s Day Dining in the Hocking Hills 2015

We copied this word for word from the Hocking Hills Tourism Association’s Weekend Update, but we agree with it all, and have added a few comments below and links to the various restaurants web sites:

Mother’s Day Buffet at Hocking Hills Dining Lodge
20020 State Route 664 South, Logan, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Come join us for a very special Mother’s Day Sunday buffet. No reservations required. Call 740-380-0400 for more information; COST: $23.95/adults, $12.95/ages 5-12.
Our note: great for kids and convenient for a before or after dinner hike at Old Man’s Cave.

Mother’s Day Grand Buffet at The Olde Dutch
12791 St. Rt. 664 South, Logan, 10:30 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Mother’s Day Grand Buffet: carved ham, broasted chicken, roast beef, roast turkey , ham loaf, chicken livers, cabbage rolls ,macaroni & cheese, sweet potato casserole, chicken & noodles, stuffing, assorted vegetables, homemade rolls, cheesy potato soup, super salad bar, pie (coconut cream, peanut butter cream, strawberry cream, dutch apple, pecan & sugar free), bread pudding, apple crisp & strawberry mousse. Drink is included and moms receive a free” carnation. Call 740-385-1000 for more information; COST: $15.99/adults, $4.99/kids 3-10, FREE/kids under 3.
Our note: also great for kids, then go play miniature golf or browse through the craft store, and antique store. Don’t take little kids in the glass outlet store!

Mother’s Day Buffet at Lee’s Banquet Haus
580 Radio Lane, Logan, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
All-You-Can-Eat Buffet iIncludes: broasted chicken, roast beef, roast turkey, carved pit ham, whipped potatoes, scalloped potatoes, vegetables, salads, rolls and full assortment of desserts. COST: $15.95/adults.
Our note: we’ve never been here, but have enjoyed many breakfasts and dinners at the companion restaurant, Bush’s, which probably has the restroom-most-in-need-of renovation in the Hocking Hills. But their pies and broasted chicken are very tasty.

Mother’s Day Brunch at Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls
21190 St. Rt. 374, Logan, 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. seatings
Mother’s Day Brunch is a family fun affair! Begin your meal family style with our Inn’s pastry basket, fresh fruit, inn-made granola and raspberry yogurt. Entrée choices include: caramelized onion & feta quiche, pan roasted tilapia topped with pineapple salsa & herb roasted potatoes & green beans or pork chop with apricot glaze served with herb roasted potatoes & green beans. A sweet ending to your meal is either mixed berry cobbler w/ vanilla bean ice cream or strawberry cake w/ strawberry icing. Call 800-653-2557 for reservations or more information; COST: $21/adults, $12/children 12 & under.
Our note: this will be delicious, of course, and this is an incredibly low price for this restaurant. Also very convenient for hiking at Cedar Falls before or after brunch.

Mother’s Day Fine Dining at Glenlaurel
14940 Mt. Olive Rd., Rockbridge, 1 and 5 p.m. seatings
Looking for a truly magnificent gift for your Mother? Spoil her (and yourself!) with an amazing gourmet meal at Glenlaurel. We’re accepting reservations for a 1 p.m. seating for a four-course lunch and a 5 p.m. seating for a six-course fine dining experience that’s sure to delight. Call 1-800-809-7378 or 740-385-2951 ext 306 for more information and to make a reservation; COST: $39/lunch and $49/dinner.

Our note: they don’t have kids pricing and this is more of an adults only place anyway. But the food will be absolutely delicious.

 

Breakfast at Jack’s Steakhouse

Dave and I have had quite a few dinners over the years at Jack’s, especially when brother Rob and sister-in-law Deb would visit. Rob loves this place, and that may be an understatement. For dinner, this is your basic, local steakhouse. Nothing fancy here, and even Rob will admit that it was better when the actual Jack owned the place. In my opinion, it has really improved since indoor smoking in restaurants was banned. I am usually not that sensitive to smoke, but this restaurant was just a haze of smoke, even the nonsmoking section. Really ruined my appetite which is hard to do. But those smokey days are long gone.

Anyway, Rob and Deb like to have breakfast at Jack’s when they are in the Hills. Since we needed to be out and about this morning, we decided to have breakfast there. In the daytime, the restaurant is a much cheerier place than at dinner time. There was a good size crowd, a mix of locals and a couple of vacationing families. Service was just a little slow, but friendly and attentive once it started. Dave and I both had steak and eggs, but while he had hash browns, I had grits. Our “breakfast steaks” were thin, but quite good. The over easy eggs were the best I’ve ever had. Perfectly runny yolk, white cooked through but not browned or lacy. We both ordered the excellent sourdough toast, but could have had white, wheat or rye.

So after all these years I have to admit my big brother is right: Jack’s Steakhouse is a great place to have breakfast in the Hocking Hills.

Jack’s Steakhouse
35770 Hocking Dr.
Logan OH
http://www.jacks-steakhouse.com

– Mary at Marsh Hollow

Location:Logan OH