Cedar Falls

Cedar Falls – Ohio State Parks

Location: Hocking Hills State Park

Cedar Falls – Hocking Hills State Park – 21724 Ohio 374 Scenic, Logan, OH 43138 GPS Tracking: 39.417305,-82.525363

Cedar Falls Hiking Map by the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources
Cedar Falls Hiking Map by the Ohio Dept of Natural Resources

The 50-foot waterfall of Cedar Falls is the largest, by water volume, in the Hocking Hills region. The falls are fed by Queer Creek which tends to develop from larger and steeper acreage that provides greater volume and longer duration flow to the falls than many of the neighboring state park areas. The Cedar Fall’s habitat is surrounded by extensive, abundant hemlocks that were mistaken by early settlers as cedar trees. As settlers began arriving in the early 1800s they confused the trees and wrongly named the falls, but the name remained. These early settlers established a gristmill around 1830 near the top of the falls. It was used to grind grains and was powered by the falls. The remains of the mill still can be observed and are a tribute to those early pioneers.

Cedar Falls with a reflection of the falls in the foreground from a pool of water.

This is quite an impressive waterfall and will seem larger in person than from photos. The falls glide down a huge section of sandstone that splits in the middle and then rejoins again before falling into its plunge pool and giving the falls an uncommon appearance. There is a large area below the falls where visitors can stop to relax and take in the view.

There are signed posted for no swimming signs in the Cedar Falls plunge pool. Often, from the green metal bridge by the falls, one can see snapping turtles below in the pool under the bridge. Maybe you don’t want to swim with these around…

Visitors have described this section of the state park as “wild and lonely but spectacularly beautiful”.

Hidden but right next to Cedar Falls is “Hidden Falls”, a 12’ fall that is a great addition to Cedar Falls.

Hidden Falls near Cedar Falls in a Spring Torrent.
Old Mans Cave April 10 2015 – Major Storm Precdes record water falls

There are two main trail systems leading to the main falls. The first is the original trail developed long ago and originates at the main parking area for Cedar Falls. This parking area has a pavilion for picnics (first come first served) and a new restroom system. The trail from here descends down erosion protected steps (See Democracy Steps description below) and to Queer Creek gorge and then through the gorge with numerous hemlocks and rock shelters with towering steep jagged rock walls. This path is nearly one-half mile in length where it leads you to cross a metal bridge that delivers you to the base of the falls. This trail takes roughly 30 minutes to hike. The hike is fairly easy, but you should use caution. Retrace your steps to return to the parking lot.

The alternative trail begins at a small parking area just off SR 374 before you reach the main parking area. When you park here you will see a metal bridge that crosses the upper part of Queer Creek with the Hocking Hills State Park Logo on top. This is the trail for the hikers returning to Old Man’s Cave after hiking through the gorge to get to Cedar Falls. To reach Cedar Fall you will hike in the opposite direction and directly arrive at the top of a set of wooden stairs that wind you down and delivers you to the base of Cedar Falls.

Either trail is great for hikers of all skill levels. A reminder that all pets must be maintained on leashes.

Cedar Falls is also the intersection of a handful of the outstanding hikes in the Hocking Hills. One trail, a section of the Buckeye and Grandma Gatewood Trail leads from Old Man’s Cave through the gorge and through Cedar Falls and onward to Ash Cave. Roundtrip this hike is near 11 miles.

A Spring flood rage from Cedar Falls downstream under the Bridge Foot path. Thunderous sounds cascaded past me as I captured this. Dusty

The Grandma Gatewood trail, named after an amazing woman who is famous as the first woman to through-hike the Appalachian Trail in the 1950s. Another side hike from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls involves a hike to the recently reopened Whispering Falls area. The Old Man’s cave roundtrip hike provides two options; One is to return the way you came down the Gorge and the other is to ascend the stairs just to the right of Cedar Falls and follow the red blazes and posts through the Gorge Rim Trail. This trail runs over the A-frame steel bridge at the top of the Falls over Queer Creek and then along an old roadbed, leading past Rose Lake and ending back at Old Man’s Cave.

The Cedar Falls Foot Bridge crossing Queer Cree allowing hikers easy passage for their return hike to Old Man's Cave. The remnants of an old grist mill can be seen from the bridge.

The distance from Cedar Falls to Old Man’s Cave is just over 3 miles. Other hikers may continue to follow the trail that leads to Ash Cave. For this, you follow the Cedar Falls trail up into the main parking area and continue through the picnic area and past the new restrooms. At the other end, a dirt access road with an iron pipe gate leads you 3 miles down to Ash Cave and Falls. This continues the Buckeye Trail and has the blue blazes as markers for the trail. Two National trails also follow through Cedar Falls; The North Country Scenic Trail and the American Discovery Trail.

Cedar Falls is the central section of the trail for the annual Winter Hike in January each year through the park. This event is always marked with wonderful carved ice sculptures and the promoters cater hot food and drinks as well as a shuttle for those who decide to return to their vehicles from here. The Park Naturalists provide insights and typically there are musicians to serenade the hikers and provide a wonderful time for all participants. Many visitors have said that hiking through here is like stepping into an enchanted forest. The area is so popular that it is featured yearly in calendars, magazines, and many online social media sites.

A Fall Dawn of Cedar Falls from the Bridge Trail. Val capturing the scenery. Photo by Dusty Scott

Democracy Steps, leading down to the falls were created by Akio Hizume, artist, architect and mathematician. Drawing from his love of nature and expertise in the relationships among numbers and dimensions, Akio designed a staircase descending gently down the hillside leading from the parking lot to Cedar Falls. Akio set out to create a serpentine walkway that feels as graceful as it looks. His goal was to make the act of ascending or descending the nearly 100 steps pleasant and relaxing; not the tiresome chore of climbing up or down the typical set of uniform, periodic stairs. The lengths of individual steps are varied, so that walkers alternate the leading foot, establishing a comfortable pace and rhythm. Though it seems like second nature, this walking rhythm was planned carefully and deliberately. It reflects the mathematical principles of the Fibonacci sequence and the one-dimensional Penrose lattice.

Description Courtesy: Akio Hizume

Cedar Falls in early morning with Dusty photographing it from a tripod. Photo by Val Scott

Great Hiking!

Dusty & Val Scott

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