The Best Time to See Fall Colors in Hocking Hills

Fall in Hocking Hills.
Visitors view the fall colors in Hocking Hills.

Hitting the peak Fall Foliage week is an exact science. The specialists make their inferences, like those at Smoky Mountains National Park. This year, the park even made an interactive map based on predictions when and where peak would happen in each part of the country this year (and how it happens).

The best time, according to the map, to see the fall foliage in Hocking Hills is the week of Oct. 8th. With just a couple weeks left, it’s time  to plan a trip to Hocking Hills and get the best fall views during peak season.

Hocking Hills Scenic Byway

Taking a drive deep into Hocking Hills Scenic Foothills, the byway’s views include hills, valleys and the six non-contiguous sites of the State Park.

The route begins at St. Rt. 374 on US 33 and continues as it connects all State Park sites north to south from Cantwell Cliffs to Conkle’s Hollow to Old Man’s Cave.

The 26.4 mile byway includes evidence of ancient Adena culture and some of the first human inhabited recesses more than 7,000 years ago. Several Indian tribes lived here in the mid 1700s such as the Delaware, Wyandot and Shawnee. These tribes are the ones responsible for naming the Hocking River. Originally calling it Hockhocking or “bottle river,” based on the bottle-shaped valley of the Hocking River (which was formed thanks to glacial icebergs).

Participants pass attractions like the Hocking State Forest Headquarters, which was originally called the Hocking County Honor Camp used to house prisoners, used by guards that would take care of the parks, put out fires and planted trees.

The Village of Mound Crossing, at mile 11.9, is home to an ancient Indian Mound built by the Hopewell Indians. One of the first cabin businesses in Hocking Hills is still available today, as well. Nestled at mile 13.2, travelers can still check-in at the Nestle In (originally known as Little Denmark).

The driving route, gorgeous views and historical backdrop attract drivers, historians and naturalists alike – especially during the fall.

For more information, maps and guides, visit Explorehockinghills.com. 

Climbing and Rappelling

The Hocking Hills is one of the first locations in the U.S. to get Ziplines and Canopy tours and is now considered the Canopy Tour Capitol of the Midwest.

Enjoy the fall colors from a bird’s eye view with more than 60 ziplines from treetop to treetop over waterfalls and caves.

Rock climbing is also available in the hills for the adrenaline fan. 

Check out the variety of opportunities to go ziplining or rock climbing.

Horseback Riding

Looking for something a bit more laid back, like a lazy stroll through the forest with some gorgeous animals and a knowledgeable tour guide?

Horseback riding may be what you need, and perfect for all members of the family.

Most tours take you deep into those fall-forested trails, complete with gorgeous views you can’t see from the main roads.

Hocking Hills has multiple ranches to visit from Smoke Rise Ranch and Resort to Happy Trails.

To see the full list visit our website. 

Train Rides

Why not get a view of the fall foliage from the comfort of a cozy train ride?

Take a leisurely adventure through the historic Hocking Hills on Hocking Valley’s Scenic Railway.

Trains depart Saturday and Sunday from the Nelsonville Depot on Route 33 and Hocking Parkway, next to Rocky gear.

The railway also has special events, like the wine express.

Or, more importantly. It’s Fall Foliage tour Oct. 6 through the 27th at 1 p.m.  Fridays in October.

From the website: “Due to the incredible popularity of the fall colors of scenic southern Ohio, we operate extra trains on Fridays only in October. These trains are no different than the Noon and 2:30 trains on Saturdays and Sundays, other than an extra option for your trip

Each Friday between October 5th and 27th, one train each day departs the Nelsonville Depot at 1:00 p.m. for a round-trip ride to East Logan.

The coaches are heated as weather requires, but we also have both of our open-air cars on the train as well. These trains provide a unique way to experience the fall colors throughout the month of October.

Duration of ride: Approximately two hours

Cost: $12-17 per person

Contact: Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, Phone: 740-249-1452

Aerial Tours

Want a bird’s eye view of the fall colors without doing the climb yourself?

You can still fly in Hocking Hills thanks to Hocking Hills Hot Air Ballooning or Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tours.

To embark on the hot air ballon includes the following: One Passenger “$265 Two Passengers $450 Each Additional $185 Private Champagne flight for 2 $595 GET MARRIED DURING THE FLIGHT $795 We reserve the right to add additional passengers except the Champagne & Marriage flights.”

While taking on the scenic tour includes: “Picturesque flights over beautiful Southern Ohio hills! Rates starting at $75.00 for two. Tour times are 20/30/45/60 minutes. Fly out to breakfast, lunch or dinner at nearby airports. We can customize flights over locations of your choice: lakes, cabins, caves, specific landmarks, etc. We specialize in giving children safe, memorable and fun flights. Unique sunset and night flights for viewing city lights. Bring your camera to capture the family posing by the aircraft. Gift Certificates!”

Who wouldn’t want to get married in a hot air balloon with one of the most sought after fall foliage views in the country?!

For more information visit here. 

Grandma Gatewood’s Fall Colors Hike

This annual event is one of the most popular for the State Park. Taking place Oct. 14 at 9 a.m.

According to hockinghills.org, people come from all over the world to participate in the event and gawk at the changing leaves.

Taking about three to four hours, the hike goes through the section from Old Man’s Cave to Cedar Falls with several hills and steps. Make sure to bring snacks and a cool drink or two!

For more information visit thehockinghills.org.