Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow…

Once upon a time, the Hocking Hills area of Ohio lay under the waters of a vast inland ocean….

Rivers flowing into this ancient sea carried coarse and fine grained sands, depositing them in large wide deltas much like the present day delta at the mouth of the Mississippi River. Over millions of years, these sand deltas were buried by finer textured silt and clay sediments. Eventually these sedimentary deposits were compressed to form a thick hard layer of sandy textured rock, now referred to as Black Hand sandstone. Great forces of energy within the Earth caused the land surface to gradually rise, eventually forming the present Appalachian Mountains. As the ocean waters drained away, the new land surface dried out, and became subject to the erosion processes of surface water and climatic extremes. The newly exposed sediments were weathered away, layer by layer, and washed onto some distant river delta. Today Black Hand sandstone layers are the uppermost of these past sediments and they in turn are being acted upon by erosional forces.

The approach to Ash Cave is through a narrow gorge lined with stately Hemlocks, massive Beech trees and various other hardwoods. Connor started with his ‘Ohhh’s and ‘Ahhhh’s almost instantly. He was pointing at everything, (the butterflies, roots, trees, streams, everything) and really taking it in, he’s definitely his Mother’s Son and adores being out and about. The valley floor offers brilliant displays of wildflowers in all seasons; Trillium, Dutchman’s Breeches, Trout Lily, Jack-in-the Pulpit and Jewelweed. Fern, Moss and Fungi grow everywhere, clinging to trees (both alive and fallen, which will in turn feed Their standing Brothers and Sisters) and rocks, birds chatter in the high canopy, the light glints and gleams down through the branches, Butterflies & Dragonflies flutter and glide past. As you walk further into the narrow gorge, losing yourself in the sites and sounds of the forest, it gives way with astonishing suddenness to a tremendous overhanging ledge and cave shelter.

The horseshoe-shaped cave is massive! It measures seven hundred feet from end to end, hundred feet deep from the rear cave wall to its front edge, with the rim rising ninety feet high.

A small tributary of the East Fork of Queer Creek cascades over the rim into a small plunge pool below. Ash Cave is was given it’s name after huge piles of ash were found under the shelter by early settlers. The largest pile was recorded as being a hundred feet long, thirty feet wide, and five feet deep. The source of the ash is unknown, but is believed to be from Indian campfires built up over hundreds of years. One other belief is that the Indians were smelting Silver or Lead from the rocks. Still another theory claims that Saltpeter was made in the cave. No matter the source, several thousand bushels of ash were found. In 1877 a test excavation of the ash revealed sticks, arrows, stalks of coarse grasses, bits of pottery, flints, corn cobs, and many, many animal bones. Bones of Elk, Black Bear, Skunk, Deer, wild Duck, Rabbit, Box Tortoise, Passenger Pigeon, Squirrel, wild Turkey and Wildcat..

The whole area is extremely awe-inspiring, the walk in and the cave both, there is a powerful atmosphere to the place and I walked slowly, silently, reverently. That’s when I heard them… The drums! I turned to my husband and asked if he could hear the very distant drumming, very faint but still audible; he couldn’t. I heard those drums on and off throughout the day whilst wondering about through gorges, exploring grottos and caves, as they drifted through the forest and over the bubbling of waterfalls and streams. I asked my husband more than once; still he could not hear them…

They must have been for my ears only…

We then took a jaunt into the nearby town of Logan for lunch. I remember, coming here the first time I ever visited Jason. We stayed in a cabin, deep in the wooded hills, exploring each other and the surroundings. This was our first trip back since Connor was born. Whilst the Wee Man napped I popped into one of Logan’s small antique shops for a browse, and came out with three new (new for me, but not really ‘new’ at all) keys…

After lunch we went to explore Conkle’s Hollow and it’s sheer cliffs, which rise nearly two hundred feet above the valley floor. The deep, cool gorge, which is considerably narrow in places, is considered to be the deepest in Ohio. Numerous waterfalls cascade, and tumble prettily over the sandstone cliffs. The atmosphere here was palpable, even stronger than the walk up toAsh Cave. I cannot describe how utterly beautiful it is. The drums beat on again, as the Birch, Hemlock and Tulip Poplar closed in. Canada Yew, Teaberry and Partridgeberry are generally associated with more Northern climates, but here in the cool gorge they thrive happily, next to stands of Oak and Pine. The Hollow is also home of several species of endangered native Orchids. Littering the forest floor, and the exposed cliff faces, Mountain Laurel grow next to Huckleberries and Blueberries.








9 responses to “Ash Cave and Conkle’s Hollow…

    • Hey you… Cheers gorgeous! I’m just about working through catching up on reading your blog… I haven’t had much time in the last three weeks or so! 🙂 *kisses*

  1. Gorgeous! I find myself jealous, even though I just visited such a place myself (and blogged about it). I love caves so much, and the surrounding forest looks incredible too. I had no idea so many wonders lay in Ohio.

    • I loved reading your post (I’m a bit lurky, I should really start posting comments)… I love caves too, and could have spent longer there, but alas we had to come home…

      I will be taking myself and my tent back down for a weekend alone at some point soon 🙂

  2. Lovely photos! It’s great that you got to share this amazing place with your little guy. Hocking Hills is certainly one of my favorite places in Ohio. I keep telling my husband that if I have to stay in this state, I want to move to Logan.

  3. It looks amazing there I wish I had a forest near me

    • I know it’s not really a forest, but don’t you have Phoenix Park on your doorstep? You are in Dublin, right? And the Tibradden Wood is literally on the outskirts of the city… 🙂 And the Donadea Forest is less than an hour away too… *snugs*

      • No I live in Kerry I have never been to Dublin yet but its on my bucket list.There is a national park here which is about 2 hours drive away from where I live but because I don’t have a car I cant go as often as I would like to.But I do have a 6 mile stretch of beach looking out to the Atlantic so I guess the beach is my “forest” lol

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