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© Bud Schrader Photography

Ash Cave

In the southernmost reaches of Hocking Hills is Ash Cave - beyond doubt the most spectacular feature of the entire park. Ash Cave is the largest, most impressive recess cave in the state.

The approach to Ash Cave is through a narrow gorge lined with stately hemlocks, massive beech trees and various other hardwoods. The valley floor offers brilliant displays of wildflowers in the all seasons including large flowered trillium, Dutchman's breeches, trout lily, Jack-in-the Pulpit and jewelweed. The narrow gorge is approximately one-fourth mile in length and with astonishing suddenness gives way to the tremendous overhanging ledge and cave shelter.

Ash Cave Sun Streaks Photo
© Bud Schrader Photography
Ash Cave Sun Streaks - When there is Sun and water, it makes for a nice effect.

The horseshoe-shaped cave is massive; measuring 700 feet from end to end, 100 feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge with the rim rising 90 feet high. A small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek cascades over the rim into a small plunge pool below. The cave was formed like the others in this region; the middle layer of the Blackhand has been weathered or eroded while the more resistant upper and lower zones have remained intact.

Ash Cave is named after the huge pile of ashes found under the shelter by early settlers. The largest pile was recorded as being 100 feet long, 30 feet wide and 3 feet deep. The source of the ashes is unknown but is believed to be from Indian campfires built up over hundreds of years. One other belief is that the Indians were smelting silver or lead from the rocks. Still another theory claims that saltpeter was made in the cave. No matter the source, several thousand bushels of ashes were found. A test excavation of the ashes in 1877 revealed sticks, arrows, stalks of coarse grasses, animal bones in great variety, bits of pottery, flints and corn cobs.

Frozen Cone  Photo
© hockinghills.com
Frozen Cone -

It is obvious the cave was used for shelter by early inhabitants. The recess shelter also served as a workshop for Indians where maidens ground corn and prepared meals, and where braves fashioned arrow and spear points and skinned and dressed game. The cave provided a resting place for travelers along the main Indian trail which followed the valleys of Queer and Salt creeks. This trail connected the Shawnee villages and the Kanawha River region of West Virginia with their villages along the Scioto River at Chillicothe. The trail was used after the start of the frontier wars to march prisoners captured along the Ohio River to the Indian towns on the upper Scioto River. The old Indian trail is now State Route 56.

More recent uses of Ash Cave were for camp and township meetings. Pulpit Rock, the largest slump block at the cave's entrance served as the pulpit for Sunday worship service until a local church could be built. The cave lends itself well for large gatherings due to its enormous size and incredible acoustic qualities. In fact, two spots under the recess have the qualities of a "whispering gallery."

Picnic facilities are offered adjacent to the parking lot. The restrooms and trail leading to Ash Cave are wheelchair accessible.

Wedding Circle under the falls Photo
© hockinghills.com
Wedding Circle under the falls -

Ash Cave Hiking Trail Map
Ash Cave Hiking Trail Map
Location Map
Calendar of Events
Rainbow Nature Walk
Sun Mar 31

Join us for a short, accessible stroll through Ash Cave to discover all the colors of the rainbow! All abilities welcome. Meet us at the Ash Cave Trailhead.

10:00 AM - 11:00 AM

Cost: Free

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Wildlife,
Sensory Walk
Sun Apr 21

Find your way to the Ash Cave Trailhead and we will take a walk through the area to find things we can see, hear, touch, and smell. All abilities welcome.

10AM - 11AM

Cost:

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Week of Wildflower Hikes Fire Tower
Mon Apr 22

Join us for an approximately 2 mile round trip hike from the Ash Cave Fire Tower to Ash Cave and back. Meet us at the Ash Cave Fire Tower Parking lot on 374 S for a meander over rolling hills to find a variety of native wildflowers! Be prepared for a possibly muddy hike.

10AM - 12PM

Cost:

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Week of Wildflower Hikes Ash Cave
Sat Apr 27

Join us for a half mile round trip hike to Ash Cave and back. Meet us at Trail O at the Ash Cave parking lot. One half of this hike will be paved and the second half of this hike will include stairs and roots.

10AM - 11AM

Cost: Free

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Ash Cave Spring Drum Circle and Healing Gathering
Sun Apr 28

Come and join us once again at the Cave for our Spring Drumming Gathering Celebration! It's going to be a fantastic day filled with music, laughter, and good vibes. Dont forget to bring a blanket or chair to get cozy, some snacks to keep your energy up, and, of course, your drums!

The festivities will kick off at 11 a.m. and we will be enjoying each others company, drumming, dancing, and having fun until around 4 p.m. Around 3:30, we'll be holding our drum healing session, which is always a beautiful and powerful experience.

11AM - 4PM

Family Event So No Drugs or Alcohol.

We cant wait to see all of your smiling faces there! It is going to be a day filled with peace, love, and unity.

Cost: Donations Welcome

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Arts/Music/Film,
Halloween Night Hike At Ash Cave
Fri Oct 25

Join us at Ash Cave for a spooky lantern lit hike to Ash Cave.

7PM - 9PM

Cost:

Interest Tags: Outdoor Activity, Family Oriented, Special Interest, Wildlife,
Photo Gallery (click on an image to enlarge)

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