Old Man’s Cave
The most popular of all the Hocking areas is Old Man’s Cave, located on S.R. 664. Here at Upper Falls, the Grandma Gatewood Trail begins its six-mile course connecting three of the park’s areas: Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls to Ash Cave. This same trail has been designated as part of Ohio’s Buckeye Trail as well as part of two national systems—the North Country Scenic Trail and America’s Discovery Trail.
History of Old Man's Cave
Old Man’s Cave derives its name from the hermit Richard Rowe who lived in the large recess cave of the gorge. His family moved to the Ohio River Valley around 1796 from the Cumberland Mountains of Tennessee to establish a trading post. He and his two dogs traveled through Ohio along the Scioto River in search of game. On one side trip up Salt Creek, he found the Hocking Region. Rowe lived out his life in the area and is believed to be buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave. Earlier residents of the cave were two brothers, Nathaniel and Pat Rayon, who came to the area in 1795. They built a permanent cabin 30 feet north of the cave entrance. Both brothers are buried in or near the cave. Their cabin was later dismantled and relocated on the nearby Iles farm to be used as a tobacco-drying house.
Features of Old Man's Cave Nature Area
The Old Man’s Cave area can be divided into five principal sections found along the valley of Old Man’s Creek. In order, they are Upper Falls, Upper Gorge, Middle Falls, Lower Falls and Lower Gorge. Along the length of the trail the magnificent gorge cuts through the entire 150-foot thickness of the Blackhand sandstone. Carved by the creek, the gorge serves as an avenue for visitors to peer into the earth’s subsurface. The full distance of the gorge is approximately one-half mile.
About halfway through the Upper Gorge, a series of rapids and small waterfalls occur called Middle Falls. At the base of Middle Falls is the main recess known as Old Man’s Cave. The recess is located on a vertical cliff 75 feet above the stream and measures 200 feet long, 50 feet high and 75 feet deep.
Once reaching Lower Falls the Gorge continues until reaching the valley of Queer Creek which leads on to Cedar Falls (approximately 2.5 miles one way, blue trail). The lesser known Broken Rock Falls occur in a small side hollow just below Lower Falls. This well-named waterfall cascades over a sandstone cliff and splashes from boulder to boulder. For those not wishing to continue to Cedar Falls a series of steps and a steep tunnel on the north side of Lower Falls will take visitors out of the gorge at this point.(Green Trail)