Leaf Peeping in Ohio: Hocking Hills Fall Colours

By: claudia

September 16, 2014

New England doesn’t have a monopoly on leaf peeping in the United States. Just an hour’s drive south of Columbus, Hocking Hills State Park offers a beautiful display of vibrant colours. Here are our favourite places to soak up the Hocking Hills fall scenery.


With its lush forests, sparkling waterfalls, scenic lakes and colourful caves and rock formations, the Hocking Hills region is a peaceful retreat at any time of the year. But it can’t be beat in the fall, when it’s aflame in radiant hues of orange, yellow, maroon and red.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Stone Bridge along the Buckeye Trail
There are numerous trails to follow, like the Buckeye Trail where, come October, the scenic views become a sea of amber and red © Chris Palmer/Flickr

Dozens of varieties of trees comprise the forest. Walk amid stands of hemlock, beech, red oak, hickories and the fall’s best beauties, the vivid sugar maples. The peak of the Hocking Hills fall colours typically falls in the second or third week of October, depending on the rainfall, cool air and other seasonal factors.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Deep in the forest
The best time to visit Hocking Hills to see fall colours is mid-October © Chris Palmer/Flickr

Don’t have several days to explore? Opt for the 9.6 kilometre hiking trail, part of America’s Discovery Trail, that links Ash Cave to Cedar Falls to Old Man’s Cave. Arguably the prettiest spot in all of Ohio, Old Man’s Cave features a deep gorge, lush with brilliantly hued trees.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Old Man's Cave Waterfall
Old Man’s Cave is by far one of the most beautiful natural spots in Ohio © Mike King/Flickr 

One of the most picturesque areas is ironically one of the least visited. Be sure to seek out the remote Cantwell Cliffs, where you’ll be rewarded with rim trails along steep cliffs offering views into the gorge. Be sure to stay on the trail; the spectacular view has lured a few unfortunate people too close to the edge.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Ash Cave
Hike along the Discovery Trail and you’ll stumble across beautiful sights like Ash Cave © Bill Fultz/Flickr

Look to the sky as well as the leaves for brilliant displays of colour. The Hocking Hills are home to the spectacular red and black pileated woodpeckers, as well as red-tailed hawks, yellow-billed cuckoos and the striking white and brown majestic bald eagles.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Zip lining with Canopy Tours
The view from the tree tops is even more impressive than on the ground © Hocking Hills Canopy Tours

Want to soar through the colourful trees like a bird? With more than 50 zip lines, Hocking Hills is called the Canopy Tour Capital of the Midwest. Zip into a recessed cave and soar above the Hocking River twice on the new “X” Tour at Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, or fly at speeds of 80 kilometres an hour on their SuperZip®.

Other prime vantage points to admire the views are canoeing along the tree-trimmed Hocking River or driving along St. Rte. 78 in Hocking County, on what’s called the Rim of the World due to its scenic hilltop views.

Hocking Hills Fall Colours | Glenlaurel
After a long day exploring, there’s nothing better than coming back to a luxury cottage to recoup © Glenlaurel

Accommodations are plentiful. Pick from rustic cabins and lodges or luxury cottages. Glenlaurel, is a great option, with gourmet meals, spa treatments and even a private waterfall.

Our partnership with Delta means we can connect you to and from a wide range of destinations across the United States. Check out our numerous connections across the US, as well as flight options to Canada and Puerto Rico.

Have you seen the Hocking Hills fall scenery? Where do you recommend going leaf-peeping in the US? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.

Written by Claudia Plumley



Claudia Plumley is a travel writer, life-long Columbus resident and a lover of all-things Ohio. Claudia is the senior editor for Ohio Magazine’s custom publishing division, where she produces visitors guides and magazines promoting the Buckeye state. She previously worked for Experience Columbus, the city’s convention and visitors bureau.

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