08.02.20: Fall creek bed

Rocks and leaves fill a creek bed on an autumn morning on the Old Man's Cave trail, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio.

Rocks and leaves fill a creek bed on an autumn morning on the Old Man's Cave trail, Hocking Hills State Park, Logan, Ohio.

Hiking through a unique Ohio geological 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.

If I find an October day when the next-morning weather forecast calls for sunshine I’ll often pack up my camera, some lenses and a tripod and plan to leave well before daylight for the Hocking Hills, a region of Ohio that’s a couple of hours from our house.

I can usually find some nice autumn scenes while walking the many trails through numerous parks in the region.

I photographed this scene during a late October 2007 visit to Hocking Hills State Park. I had been walking trails for several hours, photographing different interesting scenes, when I came upon this creek bed filled with boulders and leaves. I liked the symmetry of the line of boulders on the left with the sheer cliff on the right. The blanket of leaves created a sense of undisturbed isolation, even though numerous people had walked through the area.

I’ve visited the same spot many times in the years since, photographing the boulders and creek bed at different angles. And I’ll probably do it again.

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.

Tech specs

  • Date/time: Oct. 29, 2007, 10:40 a.m.
  • Location: 39°25'57.0001" N 82°32'35.9999" W (Show in Google Maps)
  • Camera: Canon EOS 40D 
  • Lens: Canon EF-S 10-22mm f/3.5-4.5 (22mm)
  • Aperture: f/9
  • Shutter: 1/4th second
  • ISO: 200