Southeast Ohio Rock Gorges! – Piatt Park and Raven Rocks

Information Display at Piatt Park, Monroe County

My two books, A Photographer’s Guide to Ohio – Volume 1 and Volume 2, cover many of Ohio’s most photogenic natural areas, including the Hocking Hills region, which has the most extensive collection of sandstone rock gorges and other rock formations in the Buckeye State.  Recently I visited two other rock gorges in southeast Ohio, specifically Piatt Park, near Woodsfield in Monroe County, and Raven Rocks, a 30-minute drive north of Woodsfield in southern Belmont County. Both of these places are worth a visit if you enjoy exploring caves and waterfalls and you prefer not to encounter the crowds of people that typically visit the Hocking Hills on most weekends. 

The photo above shows the information display at Piatt Park, which is a 119-acre Monroe County park located about 5.1 miles east of Woodsfield. From the junction of Main Street (State Route 800) and Court Street (State Route 78) drive 4.2 miles east on State Route 78, turn left (north) on Carrick Road, and follow the signs for another mile to Piatt Park. Park in a pulloff by the picnic shelter and look for the Nature Trail information display near the edge of the woods. Follow the gravel path down into the woods. At the intersection of the West Rim and East Rim Trails take the West Rim Trail, which heads south along the rim of the gorge then back north to the cave and waterfalls area, which is about 0.6 miles from the parking place. A set of steps descends to the cave entrance, which is shown in the photo below.

Cave Entrance, Piatt Park

Like most of the gorges in the Hocking Hills, the “cave” at Piatt Park is actually a large rock overhang. It’s dimly lit and may be slick in wet weather, so watch your step.

Cave interior, Piatt Park

The cave, which is like a smaller version of Ash Cave and Old Man’s Cave in the Hocking Hills, is an excellent place to take a panoramic photograph with your smartphone. I used my iPhone 11 Pro to take the panorama shown below. 

Cave Panorama, Piatt Park

Below the cave, a steep set of steps takes you down the hillside to a pair of waterfalls. Despite heavy downpours the previous weekend, both waterfalls were dry during my visit. 

The lack of water had not held back the jewelweed, which completely covered the hillside near the steps. 

Hillside of Jewelweed, Piatt Park

Below the waterfalls the trail continues, but you will need to scramble down a small rock face to reach the bottom of the lower falls. From there, the Waterfall Trail ascends a very steep hillside to join the East Rim Trail. At several locations I needed to use tree roots to ascend the trail, and in wet or snowy weather this muddy trail would be so slick that I wouldn’t want to attempt it without crampons and an ice axe! I recommend returning on the West Rim Trail when you have finished exploring the cave and waterfalls. You will descend about 260 feet from the parking area to the cave, giving you a pleasant workout on the return hike. 

Although I carried my tripod and Nikon camera gear, expecting to photograph the waterfalls, all the photos in this article were taken with my iPhone 11 Pro.

Map of Raven Rocks Area

It’s about a 30-minute drive north from Woodsfield to Raven Rocks, which is in southern Belmont County. From Woodsfield, drive north on State Route 26 and Kings Highway for about 10 miles to Beallsville, then continue north for 2.8 miles on Crum Road to the parking area at Raven Rocks. The map shown above is part of the information display for Raven Rocks at the beginning of the trail. 

Raven Rocks Gorge Panorama, Belmont County

It’s only a few hundred feet from the parking area through the woods to Raven Rocks, where a short set of steps takes you down into the gorge. I made the panorama shown above from the bottom of the steps with my iPhone 11 Pro. You can get a sense of the scale of Raven Rocks from the photo below, which includes a group of hikers on the trail through the gorge.

Hikers at Raven Rocks, Belmont County

For more information about Raven Rocks, visit their website.

   

   

   

 

   

 

           

 

 

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