LOGAN- More than 10,000 acres of unbroken forest in southeast Ohio’s Hocking Hills region offer some of the nation’s best fall foliage. Every fall, travelers are drawn to the area’s idyllic blend of fiery red Maples, blazes of orange Sassafras and yellow Hickory, brushstrokes of brown Oak and pops of green Hemlock and Pine.
The 2021 season is expected to be especially remarkable, thanks to a rainy spring and early summer and current cool nights and sunny days. With so many options for outdoor experiences, social distancing and remote cabins in the woods, the area has offered a safe but magical travel experience throughout the pandemic. While lodging options are sparse this late in the high season, a few choices remain, with area cabins, hotels and inns listed alongside hiking areas and activities at ExploreHockingHills.com.
At Hocking Hills Orchard in Logan, apple wonk Derek Mills’ encyclopedic knowledge of apples enthralls visitors who come to pick their own and take part in apple tastings in an orchard packed with an astounding 7,000 trees. Mills’ collection of more than 1,700 different apple varieties is believed to be a world record and includes strains from as far back as 454 A.D. A stop at the Bowers & Daughters Apple House in Laurelville is another way to experience fall in the Hocking Hills.
The third-generation, 109-year-old, family-owned Laurelville Fruit Farm produces a wide selection of hard-to-find apple varieties. The Bower family also makes some of the freshest, juiciest cider available, thanks to a perfect blend of apples and pasteurization that doesn’t cook the flavor out of the cider. Fresh apples and cider, along with vinegar with mother, apple butter and local honey are available to take home. No one should leave without trying a cup of Laurelville cider, served up in frozen slushy form to enjoy on site.
Carved eons ago by glaciers, the Hocking Hills’ extraordinary rock formations, rushing waterfalls, soaring cliffs and craggy caves draw visitors from around the globe, especially in the fall. Travelers can immerse themselves in the beauty of the region with a hike to the diverse trails of the Hocking Hills State Park, including Whispering Cave, Rock Bridge, Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, Conkle’s Hollow, Cedar Falls. Even more trails await hikers in the region’s state and national forests, state nature preserves and Metro Parks.
The season’s crisp nights often mean crystal-clear skies, punctuated by the absence of city lights. Guests can experience the stunning sea of stars and planets made visible by Hocking Hills’ dark skies at the just-opened John Glenn Astronomy Park. The lack of city lights means that the region’s night sky is nothing short of dazzling.
For those seeking more expansive views of fall color and the unspoiled geological footprint of ancient times, Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours flies visitors high above the forests and waterfalls for better-than-drone eye candy. The seriousness of Harry Sowers’ 40-year pilot pedigree and the depth of his area knowledge are skillfully juxtaposed against his endless stream of goofball puns and ba-dump-bump one-liners.
Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, with its Super Zip and an XTreme Canopy Tour that takes travelers right through a waterfall and into a cave for a truly unusual birds-eye view of the season’s splendor. Meanwhile, an off-road Segway tour gives visitors a ground-hugging experience that’s a total departure from the usual scenic autumn ride.
High Rock Adventures takes visitors on guided eco tours and heart-pounding rappelling trips, giving adventure seekers a ringside seat for what may be the most beautiful autumn scenery on earth. Guided night, sunrise and daytime kayaking trips with Touch the Earth Adventures helps travelers reconnect to the earth and to one another while as the area’s magnificent fall show reflects on the water. Horseback riding and the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offer even more ways visitors can immerse themselves in fall foliage, while other guided or self-led hikes and adventures let leaf peepers make the most of Hocking Hills’ autumn beauty.
Located 40 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio’s Hocking Hills region offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences that make every day feel like Saturday, with plenty of free activities. Unique gift and antique shops, artists’ studios and hands-on activities add to the allure of the Hocking Hills as the perfect place to unplug. Complete traveler information is available ExploreHockingHills.com or 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).