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Conkle’s Hollow

Conkle’s Hollow- Hocking Hills State Park

24132 Big Pine Road, Logan, OH 43138

GPS Tracking: 39.452879, -82.572148

The Trail System and amenities map of Conkle's Hollow State Preserve
Conkle’s Hollow Nature Preserve Map.
Courtesy of Ohio Department of Natural Resources
View into Conkle's Hollow after ascending the Rim Trail during a great Fall morning.
View into Conkle’s Hollow after ascending the Rim Trail

Park Insights:

Paved parking lot

New Flush Restrooms

3.5 Miles of trails

Lower Gorge is a 1-mile paved disabled accessible path

No pets allowed (State Preserve)

Conkle’s Hollow was named for an early explorer here named W. J. Conkle who etched his name on the west sandstone wall in the gorge in 1797.

Conkle’s Hollow Trail System:

There are two main trail systems at this preserve.

The Gorge Trail (easy) is close to 1 mile in length down the center of the narrow hollow. It was redesigned several years ago and is asphalted much of the way. This is to accommodate visitors of all abilities. It is wheelchair and stroller accessible and takes approximately 1 hour to hike in and back out. The gorge narrows as you follow the path until the towering rock walls are less than 300 feet apart. ¾ mile into the trail is a huge boulder called “Slump Rock”. Nearby are several interesting features including several recess caves and one, the Horsehead Grotto, said to be haunted where hikers frequently see shadows and hear whispered voices.  

The dual Water Falls cascading at the box canyon at the end of the Gorge Trail in Conkle's Hollow
Dual Falls at Gorge Trail

The Rim Trail (upper – moderate hike) is for the more adventurous hikers and includes impressive views of the cliffs but is rugged and not recommended for children. Hiking can be hazardous due to many tree roots, rocks, and rock joint fractures, all often wet, encountered on this trail. The trail allows a hiker to explore different habitats and view unique plant and animal terrain. This is one of the few places in the Hocking Hills where you can get a view from above as most trails hike through the forests and gorges. The trail is 2 ½ miles in length and takes 1.5-2 hours to hike on average.

The Rim Trail at Conkle's overlooking the Fall Hollow
Conkle’s Hollow Rim Trail View

The Cliffs at Conkle’s are among the tallest in the area and there are several layers that have eroded away from the top to the bottom. Numerous naturalist areas range from many varieties of ferns and wildflowers to towering hemlocks, birch and a diverse array of other hard woods that flourish here. Often so dense in places that little sunlight reaches and can aid the growth of ferns, mosses and other flora that are rare. Many species that flourished in the cool climates that occurred as the glaciers advanced upon Ohio still maintain healthy populations in the cool, deep recesses of Conkle’s Hollow. You can still find plants here today such as Canada Yew, Teaberry, and Partridgeberry that are typically only found in much more Northern climates. Many species of ferns thrive here as well. Along the rim trail with it’s dry and thin soil, sparse groves of oaks and pine manage to grow and many cling tenuously to the cliff tops seemingly defying gravity. Also, several species of threatened indigenous orchids can be found and blueberries, huckleberries and mountain laurel manage to find cracks and crevices to lay down their roots and thrive here. Several areas are presently closed off to allow these sensitive and rare plants to recover themselves.

There are many old folk lores surrounding Conkle’s Hollow but the most notable is from the very early settling of this part of the Northwest Territory near the end of the 18th century.

Early non-Native American visitors to Conkle’s found a carving on the sandstone wall with an arrow pointing to the wall on the opposite side of the gorge. The story goes that the Native Americans in the area, Delaware, Wyandot and Shawnee tribes were determined to stop the ever-increasing invasion of their lands by the early settlers. They began to rob these folks as they floated down the nearby Ohio river on rafts where the river ran through shallows. The idea was that, robbed of their possessions, they would turn around and go back home.  Several Shawnee warriors did just that one day and robbed a group of settlers of a large amount of money. These early settlers, in an effort to protect themselves from this now well known attacks along the Ohio River, would have a raft with soldiers and horses following just behind and on this day the raft floated around the river bend just after the attack. The soldiers quickly were in pursuit and for several days were hot on the trail of these native robbers.

As the Indians fled, they ended up at Conkle’s Hollow with the troops close behind. They decided to hide the stolen goods in a cache in the hollow and located a small recess cave higher up on a sandstone wall that was reachable by cutting down one of two towering nearby Hemlocks trees and used it as a ladder to the cave.  Once they hid the stolen goods, they shoved the tree to the ground, leaving the remaining one for when they returned to retrieve the money. They carved the arrow on the opposite wall and fled. Later after evading the soldiers and some time had passed, they returned to find that the other tree had been felled during a storm and they were unable to get to their cache. The stolen money remains hidden in the hollow to this day and the arrow has since eroded away.

A Bridle Falls just past Haunted Grotto Cave along the lower trail in Conkle's Hollow
A Bridle Falls just past Haunted Grotto Cave

Geologic History:

350 million years ago the Hocking Hills area lay beneath an enormous shallow ocean. Rivers that flowed into the ocean brought huge volumes of various sized sediments that formed significant deltas here much like present day Mississippi River does at the Gulf of Mexico. Over the next millions of years these deltas were covered with much finer silt and clay sedimentation with occasional massive storms flooding these deltas with thin but exceptional layers of deposits. Over eons all these sediments were compressed to form thick sandstone rocks formations. These are what are now referred to as the Black Hand Sandstone. Enormous underlying forces gradually caused the ocean to rise forming the Appalachian Mountains. As the oceans receded due to this uplift, the area dried and began eroding due to wind, water and temperature forces. These layers washed away until the Black Hand sandstone of today has been exposed.  Over the last 2 million years several ice age cycles have brought massive glaciers to cover much of present-day Ohio. The last glacial cycle around 14,000 years ago stopped just before entering the Hocking Hills region. The meltwaters during the warming caused huge volumes of waters with entrapped sediments of all sizes and types to begin carving the Black Hand Sandstone. The Black Hand Sandstone layer is typically between 100 – 200 feet thick and consists of a highly cemented upper and lower layer with the middle section more loosely cemented and more susceptible to erosional forces. The result today are the beauty and grandeur of the Hocking Hills. The erosional processes continue today with the pleasant stream that runs the length of Conkle’s Hollow continues to carve the floor of the gorge and carve back the faces of the many waterfalls.

Conkle’s Hollow was part of a land purchase in 1925 by the state of Ohio to set aside and preserve this region. Later, in 1977, Conkle’s was dedicated as a state nature preserve

Black & White image from 1939 of visitors to Conkle's Hollow. Photo courtesy of Ohio Historical Society.
Hikers in Conkle’s Hollow, Hocking County, Ohio
June 1939.

Conkle’s Cultures:

Early human cultures, called the Adena and Fort Ancient had no written language and left behind little visible signs. They did create many large mounds that are believed to be for burial purposes. It is suspected they often visited this area but mainly for hunting as no permanent habitation has been found.

In later historic times, the Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot people inhabited this area. A nearby trail they used linked West Virginia and Central Ohio as passage between hunting ranges and for some trading purposes.

Happy Hocking Hills!

Dusty & Val

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