The Grandma Gatewood Trail is one of Ohio’s most popular trails – and one of the longest that is unbroken or otherwise marred by human activity. It connects Ash Cave to Old Man’s Cave at Hocking Hills, and passes by the Devil’s Bathtub, several waterfalls and cool, forested trails nestled within deep gorges.
Beginning at Ash Cave, follow the Gorge Trail north to the state’s largest recessed cave, measuring 700 feet long, 90 feet high and 100 feet deep. Pass by a small waterfall and climb the staircase out and follow the East Fork Queer Creek valley dominated by oak and hickory trees towards Cedar Falls. There is one cross road at Chapel Ridge Road before the trail begins descending. Staircases descends down into the Cedar Falls, which is only 55 feet high but the highest in volume in the Hocking Hills region. The waterfall was misnamed by early settlers, who mistook the hemlocks for cedar trees.
From Cedar Falls, follow Queer Creek west and the north along Old Man’s Creek, where the valley becomes more narrow and dense. Eventually, a trail splits off to the left and descends down to Lower Falls. Returning to the Grandma Gatewood Trail, proceeding north follows the narrowing gorge which includes numerous staircases and tight confines before approaching Middle Falls and eventually Upper Falls. The trail climbs out of the gorge and loops to the Visitor’s Center.
A one-way trek from Ash Cave to Old Man’s Cave – or vice versa, is 5 miles. A loop is 10 miles and can be returned either via the Grandma Gatewood Trail or the Gorge Overlook Trail from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls and the Grandma Gatewood Trail from there on south to Ash Cave.
To the Ash Cave trailhead, follow OH 56 west for 29 miles from Athens. The parking area is located just west of the junction with OH 374. For the Old Man’s Cave trailhead, follow OH 56 west for 26 miles from Athens. Bear right onto OH 374 north for 4 miles.