USA Today’s just-released list of 10 Best Destinations for Fall Foliage has Ohio’s Hocking Hills ranked as No. 3 in the U.S. This comes after accolades that ranked the Hocking Hills among the world’s top 50 places to visit in 2023 and the Top Ten most popular state parks. With more than 13,000 acres of unbroken forest and nearly 100 different tree species, the region’s leaf peeping consistently earns five-star traveler reviews, citing spectacular scenery marked by deep gorges, lush forests, soaring rock faces, unique rock formations and picturesque waterfalls. Traveler information is found at ExploreHockingHills.com.
A warm, wet spring and sunny summer with plenty of rain have resulted in strong foliage this year. The region's fiery red Maples, blazes of orange Sassafras and yellow Hickory, brushstrokes of brown Oak and pops of green Hemlock and Pine create a bold tapestry that's a feast for the eyes.
Visitors have endless ways to experience all this gorgeous color, from a perfect autumn drive along twisting ribbons of roads on one of America’s newest National Scenic Byways, to extraordinary hikes on miles and miles of wooded trail. High above the forests and waterfalls, visitors are wowed by expansive aerial views of an unspoiled ancient geological footprint on a Hocking Hills Scenic Air Tour. The seriousness of Pilot Harry Sowers’ 40 plus-year pedigree and his depth of area knowledge are skillfully juxtaposed against his never-ending stream of goofball puns and ba-dump-bump one-liners. Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, with its Super Zip, XTreme and Kids Dragonfly Canopy Tours sail travelers right through a waterfall and into a cave for an unusual immersion in seasonal splendor. Meanwhile, the off-road Segway tour's ground-hugging experience is a total departure from the usual scenic autumn ride.
High Rock Adventures guided eco tours and heart-pounding rappelling trips (in daylight AND after dark) giving adventure seekers a ringside seat for some of the most beautiful autumn scenery on earth. If some in your group aren’t into that level of adventure, Hocking Hills Escape Room just opened on site. Guided sunrise, midday and sunset kayaking trips with Touch the Earth Adventures help travelers reconnect to the earth and one another while the area’s magnificent fall show reflects dramatically on the water. Horseback riding and the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway offer more ways to see Hocking Hills' legendary fall foliage.
Crisp fall nights often mean crystal-clear skies, punctuated by endless stars, thanks to absence of city lights. Guests are blown away by the stunning sea of stars and planets made visible by Hocking Hills’ dark skies at John Glenn Astronomy Park. High-powered telescopes revealed with the center's roof slides away make the experience even more magical.
Visitors can surround themselves in the beauty with a stay in a luxurious country inn, a hot tub cabin in the woods, a geodome, tiny house, treehouse or yurt -- even luxury cabin for six built into an actual cave. While lodging options become sparse in fall's peak season, it's not too late for travelers to book an autumn escape at ExploreHockingHills.com.
APPLE SEASON, TOO
Fall is also apple season and there's no better place to dive into it than Hocking Hills Orchard. Here, apple wonk Derek Mills’ encyclopedic knowledge of the fruit enthralls all who come to pick their own and take part in apple tastings in an orchard packed with an astounding 7,000 trees. Mills’ collection with more than 1,700 different apple varieties, including apples from as far back as 454 A.D., is believed to be a world record. Another must stop is the third-generation, 114-year-old, family-owned Laurelville Fruit Farm producing a wide selection of apple varieties and some of the freshest, juiciest cider available, thanks to a perfect blend of apples and light pasteurization that doesn’t cook the flavor out of the cider. Travelers can take home the farm's cider vinegar with mother, apple butter and local honey. No one should leave without trying a cup of legendary Laurelville cider, served up in frozen slushy form. Pop across the street for best-ever secret recipe donuts from Ridge Inn, available only Thurs.-Sun. 11 a.m. until they sell out.
Located 40 miles southeast of Columbus, Ohio, Hocking Hills offers once-in-a-lifetime experiences. The region boasts a wide variety of affordable lodging, from glamping, cabins, cottages and luxe woodland lodges to hotels and inns. Artists studios, gift and antique shops, canoeing, birding, fishing, golf, moth and butterfly experiences, spas and more add to the allure of Hocking Hills as the perfect place to unplug. Complete traveler information is available ExploreHockingHills.com or 1-800-Hocking (800-462-5464).