Hocking Hills Winter Hike Tomorrow

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Outdoor enthusiasts will head into the Hocking Hills tomorrow for the 47th edition of the annual winter hike.

Thousands of hikers will assemble at the Hocking Hills Campground tomorrow morning to start a six mile hike through the park's winter wonderland.

The trail leads hikers from the the Old Man's Cave to the Cedar Falls.

Many tens of volunteers and naturalists are out preparing the trails for tomorrow, says park manager Chris Grupenhof.

"Right now, we have a lot of people that volunteer for the State Park that are out with the maintenance crews preparing trails, taking care of icy spots, getting the equipment and vehicles ready, preparing the buildings and getting ready for parking a lot of people. So we appreciate all the volunteers help. We couldn't do it without them," says Grupenhof.

One of the naturalists, who's done the hike 16 times, is Pat Quackenbush. During previous hikes he's had some memorable experiences.

"We've had some areas that suddenly had frozen up and it's quite amusing sometimes to watch. I've seen some human chains form to get folks to a slope or something that was covered with ice. There's usually a lot of laughing and stumbling. It's just kind of fun to watch and how everybody works together, has a good time out there and helps each other out," says Quackenbush.

Quackenbush says despite the cold weather, the hike is definitely worth it.

"You can't see frozen waterfalls and ice formations in August; that just doesn't happen. So it's the only way to do it," says Quackenbush.

But, hikers should not forget to make preparations.

"In this case that means layered clothing, good footwear and bring water or something else to drink. And as we learned a few years ago: make sure you carry that on the inside of your coat," says Quackenbush. "We had a guy walk up to me in Ash Cave and we had a good laugh because his water bottle hanging on his belt was frozen solid from sitting on the outside. So make sure you carry it on the inside if you're gonna do that."

Volunteer Joan Keppes from Athens has done the hike almost all 46 times.

"She said there might have been one or two for various reasons she's missed in the middle there but for the most part she's pretty much done them all," says Quackenbush.

Those who want to join can start the winter hike tomorrow morning at the Hocking Hills Campground between 9:00 am and 11:00 am.