Even more spectacular than Old Man’s Cave is Ash Cave. It is truly awe inspiring. From the Hocking Hills Visitors Guide:
Ash Cave — the largest recess cave in Ohio— is perhaps the most awe-inspiring feature of Hocking Hills State Park. With a horseshoe-shaped rim that spans 700 feet, Ash Cave is, in a word, enormous and open on one side. It measures 100 feet from front to back and 90 feet from the rim’s edge to the floor below. Adding to the dramatic visual impact of Ash Cave is a waterfall that cascades over the rim of the cave. Those lucky enough to visit Ash Cave during an especially cold winter may enjoy a rare treat, as the Ash Cave waterfall has been known to freeze from top to bottom. Another notable sight for this Ohio cave is located at the entrance to Ash Cave. Here your will find Pulpit Rock, a slump rock that once served as a temporary pulpit for worship services held at the cave. Having remarkable acoustics, Ash Cave was used by the Shawnee and other Indian tribes as a temporary shelter and as a meeting room. Parts of the cave are still known as whispering galleries.
There was only a trickle of water during our visit. While not the rushing waterfall featured in the promo photos, the subtle splashing of water from above provided a peaceful ambiance in this majestic natural cathedral.
Do you know what a “whispering gallery” is? Stand at a certain spot on one side of the cave and speak softly – your companion on the other side will be able to hear you clearly.
One very nice feature of this attraction is the 1/4 mile Ash Cave Gorge Trail, a handicapped accessible trail on the forest floor. It would definitely be easy for a wheelchair, walker or cane to navigate. On the other side of the cave another trails heads up to the upper gorge level or you can turn around and exit the way you came in on the flat trail.
How did Ash Cave get it’s name? Again, from the Visitors Guide:
The name “ Ash Cave” came from the large ash piles that were found by the earliest settlers. In 1837 it was estimated that there remained 300 to 400 bushels of clean ashes “as dry as they were on the day they were burned.” Test excavations of the ashes in 1877 revealed arrows, sticks, stalks of coarse grasses, flints, bits of pottery and corn cobs. Found in later excavations were bones of elk, black bear, skunk, deer, wild duck, rabbit, box tortoise, passenger pigeon, squirrel, wild turkey and wildcat; all of which were a part of the food supply for the Indians. To this day, no one knows the reason for the ashes; however, it is speculated that the ashes are leftovers from Indian campfires of centuries past.
It is a perfect place to take shelter and have a meal. We ended up spending quite a bit of time in this amazing place. I had been there before, years ago, but I had forgotten how beautiful it is. Many people would not believe this kind of terrain exists in Ohio.
Mere photos do not do this place justice. You have to see it in person to fully appreciate its magnitude. I hope my photos give you some small feeling of the grandeur. You may pause the slideshow if you desire.