Staying with us at Big Pine Retreat? Check out 21 Horse Cave...
21 Horse Cave (Chapel Cave) and Long Hollow Waterfall/Caves
We recommend utilizing GPS to help you navigate the trail from Big Pine Retreat to 21 Horse Cave.
The hike from Delaware, Mingo and Wyandot cabins to both 21 Horse Cave and Long Hollow is about 1 mile in length and takes around 40 minutes, one way. Both the cave and hollow reside peacefully in a secluded corner of Hocking State Forest east of Conkle’s Hollow and northwest of our cabins. This is a seldom hiked area, used mostly by horseback.
The majority of the hike uses a bridle trail, so they are a bit rugged in spots. Bridle trails are always open to foot traffic, so you are allowed to hike them at any time. The trails are wide so if oncoming horses are encountered, there’s plenty of room to step aside.
21 Horse cave (also known as Chapel Cave) is a large recess cave formed by erosion along a fracture joint in the bedrock. The shape of the cave is not unlike that of a chapel, hence one of its names. Evidently at some point in history someone—perhaps a horse thief–figured out 21 is the maximum number of horses the cave will hold. If you visit, take note of the colorful striations of ancient sediments on the rock face.
The trail to 21 Horse Cave:
Follow our “Buckeye Trail” towards Hockman Road. You will pass our marked Hidden Hollow trail early on, which will be to your right.
As you proceed on the Buckeye Trail, watch for the orange ribbon path, which will be on your left, and is about a ¼ mile from your cabin. This orange ribbon path takes you directly thru state forest and will connect with the orange bridle trail. The orange ribbon path is about ¼ mile in length.
Once you connect with the orange bridle trail, you will proceed downhill, which will be to your left. You will know you are on the orange bridle trail because: the orange ribbon path dead ends into the bridle trail AND the orange bridle trail is marked by orange and white hashes on various trees. This part of the trail is well hiked and easy to walk, although the elevation change is significant.
Eventually the orange bridle trail will empty into the creek in the lower end of the hollow. At this point, you will turn right and follow the creek north, towards the cave. This part of the trail is rugged and in wet months, can be very muddy. Since horses visit this area, the path is not clearly marked. By following the creek, you find your way. . High sandstone cliff walls rim the hollow most of the way but dense hemlock growth on the hollow floor often obscures views of the rocks above.
Continuing up the hollow from the junction, in approximately .2 mile the trail will fork again at another junction. Taking the right fork will take you on a side trail uphill to Chapel Cave in a few hundred yards. Before arriving at this side trail, you’ll probably notice from below a wooden fence defining the edge of the trail to the cave before arriving at the intersection where the trail forks.
After visiting the cave, head back down the same way to where the trail forked and go right to continue hiking up the hollow. It won’t be long before you realize you are boxed in and have reached the head of Long Hollow. If the weather has been wet, a 90′ low-volume waterfall usually trickles over the cliff edge.
Return the way you came, going all the way back to the first trail junction. Remember to go left to continue on the hike back up the orange bridle trail. You will begin an ascent that will soon take you along the top of the cliffs, actually passing over the top of Chapel Cave and then very near the top of the waterfall you just visited.