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Hemlock Bridge Trail to Whispering Cave

Hocking Hills State Park, Ohio

Whispering Cave, a massive sandstone alcove measuring in at 275 feet across and 105 feet high, is newly accessible to hikers visiting Hocking Hills State Park—two new trails, the Hemlock Bridge Trail and the Whispering Cave Trail, were added to the park system in May of 2017, providing visitors with a chance to see areas that have been off limits for more than 40 years.

The Hemlock Bridge Trail kiosk, located near the cabins at turnoff 20517 State Route 664 (just past the main entrance to Old Man’s Cave), marks the entrance to the 1 mile long (2 miles roundtrip)out and back path that eventually leads to Whispering Cave—the cave is accessed via a 0.2-mile (0.4-mile total) spur trail off of Hemlock.

The hike begins by descending through a hemlock and deciduous forest along a dirt path—in addition to the beauty of the trees, seasonal wildflowers can be enjoyed in the spring and summer. A newly built staircase, 7 waypoints, two overlooks, and a swinging bridge over Old Man’s Creek add to the enjoyment of the Hemlock Bridge Trail, along with outstanding close-up views of sandstone cliffs—including honeycomb erosion, recess caves, and of course, the highlight, Whispering Cave.

After hiking along the Hemlock Bridge Trail for 0.6 mile, you will reach the spur trail to Whispering Cave—you can choose to hike to the cave now or continue towards the end of the Hemlock Trail (another 0.4 mile) where you will cross over the suspension bridge to the trails terminus and intersection with the Grandma Gatewood/Buckeye Trail. We opted to hike to the cave on the return trip, allowing for leisurely exploration of the enormous formation before returning to the car.

The cave, the second largest in Ohio, earns its moniker thanks to impressive acoustics—you can whisper at one end of the cave and someone can hear you at the other end, 275 feet away. Mineral stains and salt peter leaching from the sandstone add color and dimension to the already impressive formation—of additional interest, note the seasonal 105 foot waterfall cascading over the cliff above the cave that continues to carve out this young sandstone gorge filled with ice age era flora.

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