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13th Annual Shoot the Hills Photography Contest

April 9, 2014

Join Ohio’s largest photo contest

All photographers are invited to enter in the 13th annual Shoot the Hills photography contest. This year’s three-day event will take place on April 25-27, held at the Hocking Hills State Park Dining Lodge. Each day beginning at 12 p.m., contestants can compete to capture the natural beauty of the Ohio Hocking Hills region. Pros and amateurs alike stand to collect more than $5,000 in cash and prizes.

Registration is now open. See you in the Hills.

Check out previous contest winners

Photo from Sara Spadle, 2011 Shoot The Hills Winner

Photo from Sara Spadle, 2011 Shoot The Hills Winner










2012 Print Division Winner, Judges Choice & Highlight of the Hills, David Reed

2012 Print Division Winner, Judges Choice & Highlight of the Hills, David Reed

2012 Grand Prize Winner, Brian Stevens

2012 Grand Prize Winner, Brian Stevens

2012 Point & Shoot Division – Wildlife, First Place, Courtney Orr

2012 Point & Shoot Division – Wildlife, First Place, Courtney Orr

2012 Point & Shoot Division – Flora, First Place, Alyssa Rogers

2012 Point & Shoot Division – Flora, First Place, Alyssa Rogers

2012 DSLR Division – Abstract, First Place, David Gilles

2012 DSLR Division – Abstract, First Place, David Gilles

2012 DSLR Division – Wildlife, First Place, Timothy McDonaley

2012 DSLR Division – Wildlife, First Place, Timothy McDonaley


The 10 Commandments of Camping

April 8, 2014

A beginner’s guide to camping in Hocking Hills

While camping can be overwhelming for newcomers, coming armed with a foolproof checklist and the basic knowhow can make all the difference. Whether you’re in a tent or a trailer, the Hocking Hills State Park Campground and other area campsites make up some of the best camping in Ohio. Take some time to learn the basics before you book your next adventure.

  1. Make a checklist. You’ll want to divide your checklists by category. Try shelter, bedding, cooking, personal, clothing, miscellaneous and a basic first aid kit.
  2. Know how to start a campfire. You can use everything from commercial fire starters to egg cartons with shredded newspaper.
  3. Learn first aid basics. Know how to use everything in your first aid kit. Make sure to inspect your kit before each trip and restock often. You may also want to consider taking CPR and first aid classes.
  4. Meet your neighbors. Camping is a community. Taking the time to meet your neighbors is a fundamental part of camping – and sometimes the most memorable. Offer to help new arrivals unpack, set up camp or share your family’s grub.
  5. Look after your campsite. While rules vary from site to site, there are a few common courtesies to keep in mind both for your neighbors and future campers. Be aware of firewood rules (whether you need to purchase it, not chopping down standing trees, etc.) and only use designated areas for fires; be a considerate smoker; don’t walk through others’ sites; and store food appropriately.
  6. Use a timer for your lights. Always being conscientious of your neighbors also means not making others subject to your bedtime. When you have others sleeping close by, consider investing in an outdoor timer (like you would for Christmas lights) so you can set it and forget it and no one is disturbed by your lights.
  7. Stay safe. While there are plenty of safety tips for camping in the Hocking Hills, remember the basics: never approach or surprise an animal at close range, let someone know where you are going and when you plan to return, don’t hike alone or at night and stay on trails.
  8. Store your food properly. How to pack food for a camping trip is often a big question mark for first timers. You should freeze or refrigerate cold food overnight, freeze juice boxes to use as ice packs to keep your food cold as the boxes thaw, keep all fruit and vegetables refrigerated before putting them into the cooler and freeze any meats that you are going to cook within a couple of days so they can thaw out slowly in the cooler. Always keep perishable foods stored in the cooler and wrap containers holding foods like dips and sauces in plastic bags to contain leaks. Keep nonperishables out of the cooler and in a separate bag, including trail mix, crackers, bread, peanut butter and canned fruits and vegetables.
  9. Keep kids entertained. While children love camping and exploring the outdoors, you should always be mindful others’ space and peace. Teach kids about the invisible boundaries surrounding your campsite and campground rules. Take them zipliningcanoeing, rock climbing, horseback riding or explore dozens of other things to do in Hocking Hills.
  10. Leave the campsite clean. The last thing you should do after packing up to leave is clean the site. Many campers pride themselves on leaving the site cleaner than when they arrived. You can even get the kids involved by paying them a nickel for each piece of trash they pick up. For just a couple bucks, you can leave your campsite spotless.

If you’re ready to get lost in the Hills, check our campsite availability now or order your free Visitors Guide for more information.

Adventures at any age: Hocking Hills activities.

March 10, 2014

ohio wineries There’s something for every generation and mobility level at Hocking Hills.

While Hocking Hills is famous for its gorgeous trails and rolling hills, there’s something for every age and mobility level in southeastern Ohio. Whether you’re in the mood for a stroll through Historic Nelsonville Square, antiquing in Logan or visiting a vineyard in Shade, you’re sure to discover something new in Hocking Hills.

Museums, art and workshops:

Wineries and vineyards:



So whether you’re looking for an active outdoor adventure, or a relaxing window-shopping retreat, there are Hocking Hills activities for everyone. Visit our website or request a visitors guide for more.

Maple Syrup Tapping in the Hocking Hills

March 6, 2014

Hocking Hills Maple Syrup TappingCelebrate the sticky sweet treat at the Festival and Pancake Breakfast March 9

Some of Hocking Hills’ best activities and attractions are the rich variety of plant life and beautiful trees,including red and sugar maples that grow in the moist, cool gorges. These maple trees have been long used to produce some of the regions best maple syrup and candies.

 A brief history

Dating back to the early Native Americans and settlers, maple sugaring, or maple tapping, has been a tradition in late winter and early spring. As some of the natives cut wood for fires or dug their hatches into the trees, they noticed that liquid would drip from the trees. This liquid was collected for cooking, and soon it was discovered that the liquid from the trees yielded a sweet flavored syrup. They began collecting the syrup from the trees as the winters turned into spring.

After some trial and error, people began to realize that different methods of cutting or slashing parts of trees to expose the sweet nectar was not only wasteful, but also damaging to the trees that produced it.

The sweet process

 As the winter days become a little warmer, falling below freezing at night then rising into the upper 30s or 40s during the day, the conditions become ideal for maple sugar inside trees to liquefy. The maple sugar from the trees produces mostly water with a portion of the liquid containing sugar. The excess water is boiled off, leaving the sweet sugar, which can also be used to make candies and other sweet confections. The process of maple sugaring is a delicate process, but can be done with a few easily obtainable supplies:

  • Drill bit – Used to drill the tap hole in the tree (size varies depending on type of tree)
  • Buckets or collection bags – Used to collect the sap that drips from the tree
  • Spiles (tap) – Inserted into the drilled hole for collection
  • Cheesecloth – Used to filter out any particles, such as bark, from the liquid

Hocking Hills Maple Syrup

Festival and Pancake Breakfast

Get out and stretch your legs while learning all about how the history and maple syrup process on Sunday, March 9 at Alley Park. Be sure to bring your appetite and attend the pancake breakfast, too. Admission and parking for the festival is free, which is held from 8 a.m. until 12 p.m. Breakfast is served from 8 a.m. until 11 a.m. and costs $4.

How do ice waterfalls form?

February 11, 2014

Capture the beauty of frozen waterfalls in Hocking Hills.

Hocking Hills frozen waterfallsOne of nature’s most spectacular feats can be seen in Hocking Hills each winter: waterfalls frozen in time. Both beautiful and eery, it’s a phenomenon hikers come from all around to see. While ice forms on still fresh bodies of water at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, the physics of freezing moving water is a whole different story.

Unlike still water, waterfalls don’t immediately stop flowing and freeze over when the temperature hits below freezing. How It Works magazine explains that, “Because the moving water is constantly mixing, the entire waterfall will cool uniformly, so it will take far longer for any noticeable change of state compared with still water under the same conditions.”

The magazine explains that when the temperature of the water supply and the waterfall itself drops slightly below freezing and supercools, it causes the water molecules to slow and begin to stick together, forming solid particles of frazil ice. Frazil is the suspension of small ice crystals in the water, roughly one millimeter (0.04 inches) in diameter. These tiny discs are cold enough to start the freezing process. Frazil also conveniently arrives in the form of snow falling, which means snowfall accentuates ice formation.

Hocking Hills Frozen WaterfallsWhen frazil ice come into contact, they will clump to each and nearby surfaces. When waterfalls flow down the face of a cliff, the crystals will accumulate against the cold rock. However for a free-falling waterfall, ice will adhere to the overhang. When frazil adheres to underlying rock, dirt or plants it forms bulging anchor ice. For adventurous ice climbers, anchor ice is often what first begins the climb’s formation.

Over time the frazil ice will form an anchor that will allow it to accumulate and, provided the temperature stays below freezing for adequate time, it will form a column running the length of the waterfall. As is so strikingly displayed throughout the Hills in areas like Ash Cave, the river or stream will freeze and form a picture-perfect waterfall.

If you’d like to learn how to capture this phenomenon on film, sign up for our hands-on photography workshop held in the Hocking Hills State Park areas. These four-hour workshops are by appointment only and provide practical and usable knowledge in nature photography. Make sure to sign up for this month’s workshop, held at The Old Bears Den Center on Feb. 15 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Lunch is provided.

Love is in the air in Hocking Hills

February 10, 2014
Chef Moe's Chocolate Volcano Cake

Celebrate Valentine’s Day in Southeast Ohio.

Get away from it all with that special someone in Hocking Hills for Valentine’s Day. Take a romantic hike with the Sweethearts Hike in Ash Cave, jam out at the Bowen House with Songs of Love or choose from mouth-watering dinners at our famous restaurants. And don’t forget to climb aboard the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway for the 4th Annual Valentine’s Chocolate Choo Choo in Historic Downtown Nelsonville. Read on for all the details.

Songs of Love

  • When: Feb. 11, 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Bowen House Community Center for Arts & Education, 196 N. Market St., Logan
  • What: Popular tunes of the ’60s, ’70s and ’80s featuring the musical talents of Jesse James Russell, accompanied by Jeff Daubenmire on piano.  There will be a 6 p.m.  pre-show gathering next door at Desire 2 Inspire (Rock House) offering light appetizers and wine.
  • Cost: Admission is free, donations accepted.
  • Reservation: Due to limited seating, please RSVP. Call or text 740-274-8215 or email  You will receive a confirmation. Call 740-385-0344 for more info.

4th Annual Valentine’s Chocolate Choo Choo

  • When: Feb. 15, 4:30 p.m.
  • Where: Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, 33 E. Canal St., Nelsonville.
  • What: A social hour and train ride on board the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway with hors d’oeuvres, wine, music and plenty of sweets for adults. Proceeds go to the continued revitalization of Historic Downtown Nelsonville.  Guests may reserve a prix fixe menu after the train ride at Rhapsody Restaurant, and receive a 10 percent discount off two nights this weekend at either Hyde House B & B, Primrose B & B or FullBrooks Lodge.
  • Cost: $40 per person; $45 per person after Feb. 12
  • Reservation: Call 740-707-1585 for reservations

Sweethearts Hike at Ash Cave

  • When: Feb. 15th, 5 p.m.  to 7 p.m.
  • Where: Hocking Hills State Park, Ash Cave, State Route 56.
  • What: Take your sweetheart on a romantic stroll to Ash Cave in the soft light of dusk. Afterward, enjoy a cozy fire and refreshments. Meet at the Ash Cave parking area.
  • Cost: FREE.
  • Reservation: None required. Call 740-385-6841 for more info.

Valentine’s Day Dinner at Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

  • When: Feb. 13, Feb. 14 and Feb. 21
  • Where: Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls, 21190 State Route 374
  • What: Treat that special someone in your life to a Valentine’s Day dinner that will not be forgotten. This candlelight, four course affair is sure to melt anyone’s heart. For your appetizer choose Cream of Mushroom Soup or Classic Caesar Salad. Entrees include Steak Au Poivre with Pan Demi-Glaze, Brown Sugar Chipotle Roasted Salmon, or Frenched Pork Chop with Mango Chutney. A special Strawberry Chocolate Cheesecake will end a perfect meal.
  • Cost: $55 per person.
  • Reservations: Call call 800-653-2557.

Valentine’s Day Dinner at Rhapsody

  • When: Feb. 13, Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 at 5 p.m.
  • Where: Rhapsody Restaurant, 18 Public Square, Nelsonville.
  • What: Celebrate with your Valentine at Rhapsody Restaurant with your choice of wedge of baked brie, lobster bisque, caesar salad, chopped salad or scallop buerre rouge for an appetizer. Entree choices include slow roasted chicken, house-made herb gnocchi and butternut coulis, broiled Ohio proud flat iron steak, lobster thermidor or braised beef short ribs. Finish off your feast with flourless chocolate torte with sweet cream and raspberry coulis, chocolate dipped long stem strawberries, beignets with chocolate and raspberry sauces or pomegranate tiramisu.  Reservations are strongly recommended.
  • Reservations: Call 740-753-5740 or visit the website for reservations.

Valentine’s Day at M&M Family Diner

  • When: Feb. 14, 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. with entertainment from 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. by Tammy Tschude on piano
  • Where: M&M Family Diner, 34 W. Main St., Logan.
  • What: Bring your Valentine to M&M Diner for a special lunch or dinner. Specials include chicken cordon bleu with mashed potatoes with noodles on top, buttered corn and hot roll. Or try an 8-ounce cut of prime rib with baked potato, garden salad and hot roll with double stack strawberry shortcake for dessert. M&M Family Diner will also offer a “Pick 2” Special which includes two sides and hot roll; choose two from 12 piece fried shrimp, 5-ounce top sirloin, 10-ounce chopped sirloin, garlic herb tilapia, mahi-mahi, baked steak or 8-ounce pork chop, all for $15.98.
  • Reservation: Call 380-9181 for more info.

Valentine’s Day Buffet

  • When: Feb. 14, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where:  Hocking Hills Dining Lodge, 20200 State Route 664 South.
  • What: Enjoy a scrumptious buffet with your honey featuring smoked prime rib, pan-seared salmon, shrimp Alfredo, baby back ribs, beef brisket, fried catfish, wild rice pilaf, three-cheese au gratin potatoes, mashed potatoes, assorted salads, vegetables and flatbreads, Belgian chocolate brownie bites, chocolate dipped strawberries and three-berry cobbler. Saturday dinner specials and Sunday brunch also offered.
  • Cost: $21.95 per person
  • Reservations: Recommended. Call 740-380-0400.

Valentine’s Dinner by Candlelight at Urban Grille

  • When: Feb. 14 and Feb. 15
  • Where: Hocking Hills Golf Club & Urban Grille, 14405 Country Club Lane, Logan.
  • What: Start with your choice of tomato basil soup or spring green salad with cucumbers and grape tomatoes.  Entrée choices include grilled peppercorn ribeye, prime rib, panko-crusted tilapia with pineapple salsa. Entrée includes garlic mashed potatoes with chive butter and California medley vegetables. Your choice of dessert is included along with iced tea and coffee.
  • Cost: $60 per couple (taxes and gratuity not included).
  • Reservations: Required. Call 740-380-9412 to reserve.

XXOO…Valentine’s Day Dinner at the Grouse Nest

  • When: Feb. 14 and Feb. 15 with seatings at 5:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: The Grouse Nest Restaurant, 25780 Liberty Hills Rd., South Bloomingville.
  • What: Seven course chef-hosted dinner include beer or wine option. Courses include fuit and cheese; seared sea scallop wrapped in smoked salmon atop fennel and leek ragout and a delicate carrot reduction; yukon gold potato and leek soup topped with frizzled leeks; spring leaves, basil oil, tomato concasse with house-made Valentine cracker over spring greens kissed with honey balsamic vinaigrette; fresh fruit melon and mint sorbet; grilled tenderloin filet with savory red wine reduction, paprika butter lobster tail, fresh herb whipped potatoes and sautéed asparagus OR grilled tarragon swordfish filet, spring tomato lime salsa, saffron risotto and fresh hericot-verts; pinenut tart, orange slice, raspberry coulis’.
  • Cost: $110 per couple.
  • Reservations: Required. Only 12 tables available per seating.  Call 740-332-4501 for reservations.

Valentine’s Day Dinner at The Millstone

  • When: Feb. 14.
  • Where: The Millstone Southern Smoked BBQ, 12790 Grey St, Logan.
  • Where: Bring your Valentine to the Millstone for dinner.  Purchase two prime rib dinners and receive either a brownie with ice cream or cherry crisp with ice cream for free.
  • Reservations: Call 740-385-5341 for more info.

Comfort Food Cruise extended to Feb. 1-2 and 8-9

January 29, 2014

Support local food pantries while enjoying your favorite dishes in the Hocking Hills

Hocking Hills Ohio

Cruise through the Hocking Hills this month as you indulge in 10 classic comfort foods. For just $15 a ticket, you’ll sample everything from biscuits and gravy and mac ‘n cheese, to cinnamon rolls and chocolate ice cream. We’re also excited to announce that $5 of each ticket sold will benefit local food pantries. Due to January’s snow, we’re now extending our Comfort Food Cruise to February 8-9.

For two weekends you can sample hearty dishes from the region featured at your favorite Hocking Hills restaurants. Come down for the day, or spend both weekends cruising through all 10 of our participating restaurants. For our avid hikers, take time between dishes to trek through the winter beauty of the Hills. Don’t miss cave walls covered in ice beards or waterfalls frozen in suspended animation.

Purchase tickets now, or call 740-385-2750 for more information.

Featured restaurants and dishes:

  • Cinnamon Rolls – The Ridge Inn Restaurant

16178 Pike Street, Laurelville; serving from 8am to 2pm

  • Biscuits & Gravy – Pearl’s

1545 E. Front Street, Logan; serving from 8am to 2pm

  • Vegetable Soup – Boot Factory Grill

45 E Canal Street, Nelsonville; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Grilled Cheese Sandwich – Rhapsody Restaurant

18 Public Square, Nelsonville; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Pizza – Hocking Hills Dining Lodge

20020 State Route 664 S, Logan; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Brownies – Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

21190 State Route 374, Logan; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Mac & Cheese – M&M Family Diner

34 W Main Street, Logan; serving from 10am to 3pm

  • Meatloaf – Millstone Southern BBQ

12790 Grey Street, Logan; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Chicken & Dumplings – Olde Dutch Restaurant

12791 State Route 664 S, Logan; serving from 11am to 4pm

  • Chocolate Ice Cream – Ralph’s Ice Cream

26776 US 33, Rockbridge; serving from 10am to 3pm


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