Sunday, January 22, 2012

Winter recess

While the hills never rise to more than about 1,100 feet, southern Ohio is quite rugged. The southeast quarter of Ohio is a sea of steep ridges and deep valleys. In a few hidden, idyllic spots there are high-walled gorges and waterfalls. Rarer are recess caves, huge sandstone overhangs carved by erosional forces. In winter, the area is made all the more spectacular by a coating of snow and massive ice formations. The flora is that of a much more northerly place, in some places hemlock-laden ravines stranded by the last glaciation. Above is Cedar Falls, the 50-foot high waterfall on Queer Creek, part of Hocking Hills State Park. A few miles away is Old Man's Cave, the largest recess cave in Ohio (top). The area has many hiking, backpacking and camping options. I recommend it in the off-season, when the crowds are away and temperatures are a bit cooler.