LOGAN, OH (WCMH) — A ribbon-cutting ceremony highlighted the opening of a major tourist attraction in the Hocking Hills. Folks traveling to Hocking Hills State Park can now hike on a revitalized trail to the second-largest cave in Ohio, along with witnessing spectacular views.
NBC4 walked both sections of the new trail with eager hikers, including a couple who have hiked here for more than 70 years.
This is the first trail system opened here at the Hocking Hills State Park in the last 50 years, according to Naturalist Pat Quackenbush.
Helping break in the two freshly-opened trails were 87-yr-old husband and wife Clyde Gosnell and Omie Warner.
“We discovered this trail back in the 30s and 40s when we were young pups, and fell in love with it so this is like home to us,” said Gosnell, an avid hiker and organizer of several trail groups.
More than 150 volunteers helped put in steps, cut down trees and haul stone to open the old trail back up after a 30 to 50-year hiatus. ODNR officials said they acted on a suggestion to find and open the old trail back up from Jim Shaffer, a hiker from the Cleveland area.
Clyde and Omie were instrumental in helping name the two connecting trails, Whispering Cave and Hemlock bridge trails, additions to the Old Man Trail system.
“We just couldn’t be happier at our stage of life to have the privilege to be in a place like this,” said Gosnell.
Rebecca Miller, President of the Hocking Hills Tourism Association said the Hocking Hills attracted 2.7 million visitors last year, a real boon to the local economy. “It keeps our economy alive down here,” she said. “The attractions give people here a means of living, because of the cabin business, the restaurants and gas stations.”
“If you walk around and ask people where they are from, you will get answers from all the six inhabited continents,” said Omie Warner.
Jim Zehringer, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources calls this area a true treasure.
“You can’t go too many places and see gorges and waterfalls and hemlock trees like these seen in the Hocking Hills State Park.”
Not to mention Pink Lady Slipper Orchids growing wild along the trail.
The new Hemlock suspension bridge now connects the new trails to the older more-established gorge trails, at the confluence of Old Man’s Creek and Queer Creek, which form the Salt Creek. Queer Creek got its name because the water flowed in a different direction than expected.
You can find the new trails by following the signs to the Hocking Hills dining lodge.