Doggin' Columbus, Ohio: Where To Hike With Your Dog In Arch City

Doggin’ Columbus, Ohio: Where To Hike With Your Dog In Arch City

By Doug Gelbert

When in downtown Columbus dog lovers will want to head for Goodale Park, at Front Street and Goodale Boulevard, for a romp. The 35-acre greenspace, now surrounded by high-rise sentinels, was pastoral open ground when Dr. Lincoln Goodale donated the land in 1850. Goodale was the first person to practice medicine in Columbus and the park was the town’s first. You will find plenty of canine company, including organized doggie play groups, under the shade trees and near the artificial lake.

For some of the best canine hiking anywhere when visiting Columbus, travel about one hour southeast to Hocking Hills State Park. The tribes of the Wyandot, Delaware and Shawnee knew the valley as “Hockhocking” for its bottle shape, created when glacial ice plugged the Hocking River. The sandstone is of varying hardness that has cracked and eroded into fascinating rock formations and caves. The state of Ohio began preserving this unique natural area in 1924 with a purchase of 146 acres.

Dog-friendly Hocking Hills State Park is a superb destination for any dog, but is especially delightful for the canine hiker who is a few hikes beyond those days of the 10-mile treks. There are six distinct areas in the park – five for canine hiking: no dogs are permitted in the Conkles Hollow state nature preserve in the center of Hocking Hills.

The star of Hocking Hills is Old Man’s Cave tucked into a heavily wooded, twisting ravine. The Old Man was Richard Rowe who moved to the area some time around 1796 to establish a trading post. Upon arriving in Hocking Hills he stayed and lived out his life here, traveling with his two dogs in search of game. Rowe is buried beneath the ledge of the main recess cave.

An easy, one-mile trail works its way into and around the primeval gorge; wooden steps and bridges smooth the way. Your dog will enjoy a dip in Old Man’s Creek, especially in the pool beneath the Upper Falls.

Additional attractions near Old Man’s Cave are Cedar Falls and Ash Cave. Both can be accessed by car and a short walk from the parking lots. For heartier canine visitors, a 6-mile trail connects all three natural attractions. There is more great dog-paddling under Cedar Falls and nearby Rose Lake.

In the north sections of Hocking Hills the trails explore impressive cliff formations on trails less than one mile long. The trails are wide and graded with easy footing for your dog as you make your way from the rim to the floor at the Rock House and Cantwell Cliffs. The Rock House is a perpendicular cliff that features hollowed-out rooms at the bottom. At Cantwell Cliffs your dog will enjoy navigating through separated pillars of sandstone that have left narrow openings with colorful names like Fat Woman’s Squeeze.

You will find Hocking Hills State Park on Ohio SR 374 that connects all six areas of Hocking Hills State Park, 10 miles west of Logan and US 33.

copyright 2006

Doug Gelbert is the author of over 20 books, including The Canine Hiker’s Bible. To subscribe to his FREE Newsletter on hiking with your dog and receive a copy of Rules for Dogs in 100 of the Most Popular National Park Service Lands, visit In the warmer months he leads canine hikes for tours, guiding packs of dogs and humans on hiking adventures. Tours, ranging from one-day trips to multi-day explorations, visit parks, historical sites and beaches.

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