Modern Lodges amid Private Hiking Trails and near Ohio's Hocking State Forest
The Hocking Hills region of southern Ohio hardly seems like it belongs in the Midwest: its deep gorges, waterfalls, and untouched woodlands look like something you'd find in western wilderness areas. The biodiversity in this state forest has drawn in outdoor enthusiasts from Middle America and elsewhere for decades; you can paddle out into fish-filled lakes in the summer or trek through frozen caves in the winter here.
Just north of Hocking Hills, Buffalo Lodging Company acts as a gateway to the wilderness. Its numerous lodges and cabins are big enough for large group outings, and they're scattered among more than 100 acres of onsite hiking trails.
Each of the secluded lodges was built within the last five years, and that newness is reflected in the amenities, which include stainless-steel kitchen appliances and six-person hot tubs. Buffalo Lodging doesn’t overdo the modern touches, though—all units have furniture carved out of wood and stone that contributes to an overall rustic feel.
They're all spacious, too—the smallest one, the Timber View Lodge, features four bedrooms, two baths, a great room, and a log-and-timber patio with seating for 12. The larger Falls, Creek and Meadows lodges, meanwhile, each have great rooms with either a gas or wood-burning fireplace, as well as access to an outdoor fire pit and seasonal in-ground swimming pool. Opt for the Meadows lodge to get the most space: eight bedrooms and four bathrooms for up to 32 guests, which is large enough to host a family reunion or a private wrestling battle royale. It’s also the only lodge with a king suite that has a private fireplace, deck, and year-round hot tub.
Ohio’s Hocking Hills State Forest: Cascading Waterfalls, Towering Trees, and Deep-Cut Caverns
Roughly 15 minutes away from Buffalo Lodging Company, Hocking State Forest links Hocking Hills State Park and three nearby nature preserves. It’s wonderfully biodiverse, particularly for the Midwest—there's a unique mixture of plants usually found father north and native southern flora. This is largely due to the presence of dry ridges as well as moist coves and gorges in the area. As a result, you can enjoy a variety of activities here, ranging from rock climbing to ice fishing.
Most of the action centers on the state park within the forest, where the main attractions include Old Man’s Cave, a mile-long gorge that has a creek, sandstone cliffs, Cantwell Cliffs, and a 149-foot-tall hemlock that's said to be the tallest tree in Ohio. As the story goes, the cave derives its name from a 19th-century hermit who lived there with his two dogs and is buried somewhere in the chasm. Head to Old Man’s Cave for one of Hocking Hills’ most scenic hikes, which begins here at the visitor center and wends 6 miles past a 50-foot waterfall and up to Ash Cave, the state’s largest recess cave.