Most of my readers know that I lived most of my life in northwest Ohio, but only a few know I was born in Delaware, Ohio just north of Columbus, so I became very familiar with the roads between northern and southern Ohio.
My Dad was always ready to pick up and say “who is ready to take a ride?” We never knew where we were going, but gladly piled in the back seats of the station wagon eager to see where we were headed. We saw a lot of the Ohio countryside on those drives and I always knew I would travel them again someday.
Heading back to Ohio from my adventures in the Finger Lakes region of New York and beautiful Pennsylvania I too, love taking the backroads.
The backroads often provide unexpected treats for travelers, like this statue of Don Knotts in his hometown of Morgantown, West Virginia.
Down the road from Morgantown is Parkersburg where there is one of the remaining Muffler Men in the US. He was too tall to “high five” back!
After several hours of driving it’s time to stop for something to eat. Not your ordinary something to eat, but a special hot dog from O’Bettys Red Hot in Athens, Ohio.
Each selection of “the weenie with the wiggle” is named after a burlesque dancer. Interesting place and the dog was good too!
Outside of Athens I spotted an old mill that sits on the Hocking River.
This trip through southern Ohio takes me to several places that I have always wanted to spend more time at and some others I have never been to.
I have been to Old Man’s Cave in Hocking Hills State Park several times but I have never experienced all the places it has to offer.
For instance, the Rock House. This is the only true cave in Hocking Hills. After a short hike there is a bridge and at the end of the bridge is a 150 foot blackhand sandstone cliff leading up to the cave.
Inside the cave there are several windows to the outside. The cave is about 20 to 30 feet wide, 120 feet long and about 25 foot in height.
Cedar Falls, also in Hocking Hills, is just a short half mile hike back to a waterfall that spills from Queer Creek.
As this person was finding out, this 50 foot fall can be very refreshing on a hot summer day!
Ash Cave is another favorite of visitors on a hot summer day.
There are two trails to Ash Cave, one from the parking lot at the firetower which is over a mile long and the paths are rustic and the most common one at the lower end of the cave which is a short paved trail.
We opted for the longer of the two and you never know what may be standing in front of you.
Ash cave is 700 feet wide and 100 feet deep with a smaller waterfall that rains over the cave.
This is the 90 foot fall from in the cave.
Harlie and I found out just how refreshing the water was when walking behind the falls and getting close enough to feel the spray.
Old Man’s Cave is a place my parents brought me to when I was a youngster. I have been back a couple of times but never took the time to hike the entire loop.
The first inhabitants were here around 7000 years ago, later the Native Americans of the Wyandotte and Delaware tribes resided here.
Old Man’s Cave gets its name from a hermit, Richard Rowe who lived in the recess of the cave. He lived here with his two dogs and when he died he was buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave.
Through the park you will find tunnels, bridges, waterfalls and the beautiful sandstone cliffs and walls.
In the earlier part of the day the sun beams down through the trees and there is a damp coolness to the gorge.
Small falls like these can be seen throughout your two mile roundtrip hike.
Here is one of the tunnels you walk through during your hike. Take your cell phone to use as a flashlight so you don’t trip and fall.
This is called the Devils Bathtub. Legend has it that the bowl shaped pool reaches the depthes of Hades, but it is actually only a few feet deep.
This is the picturesque Upper Falls on the loop trail.
The Rim Trail leads you back to the Visitors Center to make your way to the Lower Falls.
The scenic Lower Falls.
At the Visitors Center there is a piece of artwork that depicts the Sphinx Head which can be found along your hike.
The Sphinx Head is a natural rock formation.
If you have ever been to the Hocking Hills area you know it is a vastly wooded and hilly area. This makes for finding a place to take a good sunset picture difficult, unless you want to climb a Firetower at dusk!
During the time in Hocking Hills I stayed at Top Of The Caves Campground which is very convenient to all the places there are to explore in the area. It is however very remote so don’t expect wifi or a cell signal.
Next stop, Ohio Caverns in West Liberty, Ohio. This is my very first time to visit the caverns.
Dubbed as the most colorful caverns in America, they are also the largest in the state of Ohio.
The tour takes you through the caves which were first seen in 1897.
Stalagmites and stalagtites abound in the cavern which reaches a depth of 103 feet.
The cavern maintains a temperature of 54° and was a welcome relief on this 90° day.
The tour is an easy walk and our tour guide was very informative. I am so glad I finally was able to see the caverns.
Also near West Liberty are the Castles of the Piatt Family that are certainly worth the stop and tours.
Benjamin Piatt purchased 1700 acres of land in Logan County, in 1828 he moved the family which included his sons Abram and Donn, the brothers were not quite ten years old at the time.
Abram and Donn Piatt were brothers who built gothic style castles a mile apart from each other in the 1800’s.
Abram Piatt was a farmer, writer and politician who served as a general for the Union in the Civil War. After Abram returned home he returned to farming and built a 25 room chateau called the Mac-A-Cheek Castle.
The Mac-O-Cheek is the smaller of the two castles but definitely one that was built with grandeur design. Even the dog had its own chateau built on the side of the home.
The outside gardens were in full bloom and fragrance.
From the main house there was a tunnel that leads you to where the original farm house once stood.
Inside the home of six Piatt generations, you are in awe of the rich woodwork and care to each detail of the home.
This Castle has been used by the family since the beginning until today.
It amazes me how Abram’s thought of such exquisite design and craftmanship with the doors, stairs, hallways, ceilings and moldings.
There is a room upstairs that has all sorts of documents and history.
Less than a mile away is the Mac-O-Chee Castle built by Donn Piatt. Donn also served in the Civil War but was more notable as a journalist in Washington DC.
The Mac-O-Chee Castle was built much larger and with less attention to detail as the other castle. Nonetheless still built very sturdy.
The grounds were beautiful and not as secluded as the other castle.
Unfortunately the castle has not been kept in the best shape and the wear and tear of years has taken its toll.
As you tour the home you can imagine what the home was like during its day.
Still there is plenty of rich woodwork throughout the house.
A window in an odd place and a skylight looking up into one of the towers.
The home is currently for sale. https://www.examiner.org/news/113714-castle-mac-o-chee-to-be-sold-at-auction
I hope someone will buy it and will invest in it and restore the home back to its long forgotten beauty.
Both castles are on the National Register of Historic Places.
The backroads definitely have treasures to seek out and visit and this is one drive I will not forget.
In a few weeks I will be heading to the New England states and am very excited.
For now though, I will enjoy the family, my daughters birthday and my time at Pow Wow Point on Crooked Lake in Indiana.
See you again soon, until then be happy and healthy!