The Ultimate Guide to Cave Hikes in Central Ohio, Both Popular and Unknown

Adventure, City Guide, Family Friendly, Things to Do, Tours & Walks


Written by Step Out Columbus

Published on May 8, 2024
Photo courtesy of Ohio Caverns on Facebook

So you want to go on a cave hike, huh? Okay, Indiana Jones, just beware of booby traps!

You probably didn’t even know we had so many caves nearby, did you? Don’t worry, neither did I prior to doing some research for this article. But look at us, we’re learning together!

Central Ohio’s caves aren’t just dark holes in the ground – they’re like nature’s own escape rooms, except a bit colder and much cooler looking. So, lace up your hiking shoes and let’s dive (literally and figuratively) into the mysterious world of cave hiking, from the most popular cave hikes to the most secret.

Ohio Caverns: Nature’s Disco Party

2210 OH-245 E, West Liberty, OH 43357

Ok, it’s not quite a disco party, but the rocks here are so colorful, they give Skittles a run for their money. Step inside and prepare to be dazzled by a light show that rivals a fireworks display. And hey, who needs a thermostat when you’ve got a cave that keeps it a cool 54 degrees Fahrenheit year-round? Just be sure to bring a sweater – because while the sights are hot, the temperature is not.

Photo courtesy of Ohio Caverns on Facebook

Rock House: Where Nature Gets Artsy

16350 OH-374, Laurelville, OH 43135

If you thought caves were just dark, damp holes in the ground, think again. Rock House is like the art gallery of the underground world, featuring natural cut-outs that’ll make you feel like you’re living in the subterranean Louvre. And hey, who knew caves had such a colorful history? From Native Americans to outlaw hideouts, this place has seen it all – and now, it’s your turn to make your mark on the walls. Figuratively, of course (seriously, don’t vandalize the cave).

Photo courtesy of @madisonnsworldd on Facebook

Zane Shawnee Caverns: A Pearl of a Cave

7092 OH-540, Bellefontaine, OH 43311

Forget diamonds and treasure chests – Zane Shawnee Caverns is where the real treasures lie. With its naturally occurring cave pearls and stunning stalactites and stalagmites, this hidden gem is like the Fort Knox of the underground world. Just prepare to be dazzled because the only thing brighter than these cave formations is your smile when you see them.

Photo courtesy of Porthos7 on Tripadvisor

Olentangy Caverns: Where History Comes Alive

1779 Home Rd, Delaware, OH 43015

At Olentangy Caverns, millions of years of geological history unfold before your very eyes. Winding passages and underground chambers let us glance at the lives of Native Americans and early settlers who once sought refuge within these rocky confines. From the Council Room, where arrowheads were fashioned, to the Crystal Room and Cathedral Hall, each chamber has a unique character to them that will make for fun for the whole family.

Photo courtesy of Olentangy Caverns on Facebook

Ash Cave: Unearthing Mysteries in Hocking Hills

26400 OH-56, South Bloomingville, OH 43152

Prepare to be awe-struck at Ash Cave, where nature’s grandeur is on full display. Named for the mysterious piles of ashes that once covered the cave floor, this natural wonder is like the Colosseum of the cave world (minus the gladiator fights). Historically used by Native Americans as a natural amphitheater, if you’re lucky, you might catch the whispering gallery on a quiet day, in which case, you’ll get to test out the merits of the amphitheater. Who needs a million dollar sound system when you’ve got nature’s acoustics?

Photo courtesy of Lynn Fuston on Facebook

Old Man’s Cave: Exploring Legends and Lore

19852 St. Rt. 664 S., Logan, OH 43138

Named for the hermit who once called its recesses home, Old Man’s Cave has been known to hold a secret or two. From the Rayon brothers, pioneers of the Ohio wilderness, to the whispers of ancient Native American tribes, Old Man’s Cave bears witness to thousands of years of human history, and it’s all waiting for you to soak in and discover down in Hocking Hills.

Photo courtesy of Hocking Hills State Park on Facebook

Chapel Cave: The Hidden Gem of Hocking Hills

24798 Big Pine Rd, Logan, OH 43138

If you’re looking to follow Robert Frost’s advice by taking the road less traveled, look no further than Chapel Cave. Hocking Hills’ best kept secret (until now) might not be marked on any trail maps – but that just makes finding it feel like your own personal treasure hunt. Usually traversed to by horseback, you can also walk the trail. Just be sure to watch out for mud puddles and horse, uhhh, droppings, because nothing ruins a good cave adventure like soggy, smelly socks.

Photo courtesy of Ryan Radtka on Facebook

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