The Geology of the Hocking Hills Region
— Hocking Hills State Park & Forest —
Here is where hikers can witness the power of water in the Hocking Hills. Looking
out from within this cave with its very steep waits and loose boulders, the actual
formation of a young sandstone gorge is taking place as the water slowly digs and
widens in the tight rocky gap below. this slow relentless process can take millions
of years to develop into a full sized rocky gorge.
This massive recess formed in the side of the Blackhand sandstone cliff wall is
another example of the power of water in the Hocking Hills. Caves like this are not
true caves. Instead, they are massive overhangs carved in the cliff walls through the
power of water erosion digging out the bedrock. Like its nearby neighbors of Old
Man's Cave or the massive Ash Cave, Whispering Cave and its 105 foot waterfall
are great examples of how water can carve out the softer layers of the sandstone.
As an added bonus feature, under the right moonlight, the quartz crystals in the
exposed bedrock make the cliff walls appear to have twinkling lights.
This cave's depth and size also contributes to a cooling effect that has allowed
several ice age era species of plants to thrive in the deep gorge environment.
Looking out from the cave, people can see what looks like a primitive forest with
short needled Eastern hemlock and the waxy-looking leaves
of the rhododendron
bushes covering the slopes and creek bank below. This is the same natural beauty
that inspired the local native tribes to use these recessed caves as temporary
shelters. Evidence of the earliest people, dates back to the end of the last ice age
in Ohio and continues right up through the historical tribes of the Shawnee,
Delaware and Wyandot. The wild abundance of natural resources to farm, hunt
and gather along with the milder climate made the gorges ideal locations for
these early inhabitants to camp.