Photographs courtesy explorehockinghills.com
The non-scorcher of a summer notwithstanding, it’s still our deciduous-tree-region responsibility to be excited for fall. Guys, it’s finally fall! That means we’ve got, what, a few weeks before we’re constantly bracing for polar vortexes again? (Ugh.) So let last winter be your warning: Make the most of autumn while it lasts, starting with a full immersion in fall foliage.
To see the season really strut its stuff, head a couple of hours east to Hocking Hills. While there, be sure to hit up the hiking trails. You will wonder if you drove through a wormhole somewhere after exiting I-71. You did not. Southeast Ohio is just actually that pretty. Old Man’s Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls all complement the trees with—you guessed it from the names—monolithic rocks and falling water, and they’re definitely worth your time. Or, take this map and combine some trails to mark out your own trek through the woods. For lakeside strolling, try Lake Logan (above).
If you want to look at the landscape from a different perspective—namely, from the sky—Hocking Hills now has zipline canopy tours. Not only is it fall, you get to fly like Superman through the trees. Seriously. In the name of the season.
But, if “enjoying fall” to you means less exerting energy and more eating a big dinner followed by a glass of wine on the front porch, the hills can still take care of you. The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls has a spacious-yet-cozy restaurant with a seasonally rotating menu—with dessert choices that we wouldn’t judge for making up your entire meal—an extensive wine list, and some craft beers on tap—just call ahead to make a reservation. And, if you want to wake up in a cabin in the woods, whether at the inn or elsewhere, be sure to book ahead. You are not the only one with that idea this time of year.
Pro tip: Take I-71 up to Washington Courthouse, then hop on US-35 east for a more rural, scenic route out (at least after you get off the interstate).
You know how squirrels save up acorns to get them through the winter? Yeah. We all need to do that with pleasant outdoor memories.