12.03.17: Carved steps

Steps carved in rock on Old Man's Cave trail, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio. 


Technical information

July 1, 2006,
8:57 a.m.

39°26’4” N,
82°32'23" W
(Show in Google Maps)

Canon EOS 20D

Canon EF-S 10-22 f/3.5-4.5 (10mm)


10 seconds


When I get the urge to do landscape photography, one of my favorite places for a photo hike is the Hocking Hills in southeastern Ohio. The region is filled with wooded parks and trails, rocky streams, hills, ravines and cliffs, providing countless opportunities for interesting photographs.

I found these carved steps on the Old Man’s Cave Trail in Hocking Hills State Park near Logan, Ohio. The steps connect two sections of the trail. Without them, hikers would be forced to climb over a large rock outcropping or wade through a creek to continue their trek through the park.

The steps are one of two interesting features on the trail that have been carved from rock to ease access. There’s also a tunnel carved through an outcropping (here’s a photo of the tunnel from my PBase site).

I’ve tried to research how and when these carved structures were created on the Old Man’s Cave trail, but I haven’t found any definitive information. Best I can determine is that they were likely created in the late 1930s as a works project by the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression. I know these weren't easy projects. The remote locations and the surrounding terrain make it nearly impossible to get heavy equipment into the area.

The Hocking Hills is a great area for photography. Its terrain is much different from the mostly flat land in other areas of Ohio. Blame it on the Wisconsin glacier that covered Ohio from 85,000 to 11,000 years ago. It flattened the area, but southeastern Ohio (about an hour’s drive from my house) was outside the glaciation of the ice age and remained ruggedly hilly and forested.

The same glacier that flattened much of Ohio is responsible for creating the Hocking Hills, one of the most geologically unique – and photogenic – areas in Ohio. The ruggedly hilly section of southeastern Ohio features gorges, cliffs, caves and waterfalls created when torrents of water from the melting glacier rushed through that area.

According to Wikipedia: “When the glacial torrents found cracks in the hard capstone, the water poured through to flush out the soft middle layer. This left long tunnels where the gorges are today. Eventually, the weight of the tops caused them to come crashing down. The ‘slump rocks’ in the gorges today are what’s left of the hard top layer. In just a few centuries, the rushing waters of the glacier carved the soft middle layer of sandstone into the myriad dimples and wrinkles that decorate the cliffs and grottos today.”

The waterfalls, deep, rocky gorges and towering, forested hills make Hocking Hills State Park one of my favorite areas for photography. It’s about an hour’s drive from my house, but it’s worth the trip.

Old Man’s Cave Trail, where I found this scene, is named for a hermit who lived in the large recess cave in the gorge around 1800. It’s a beautiful gorge that features several large waterfalls, a series of rapids and small waterfalls and the gigantic cave that gave the park its name. The cave is located on a vertical cliff about 75 feet above the stream and measures 50 feet high, 200 feet long and 75 feet deep. The trail, like others in the region, is filled with large slump rocks in and around the stream.

Each week I will post a photo from my collection with an explanation of how I got the shot. Previous photos of the week are in the archives.