Hocking Hills State Park is located about an hour southeast of Columbus Ohio.
I run about 35 miles a week in and around central Ohio, and at least half a dozen marathons a year. Nothing comes close to the feeling I get every time I run the 20K at Hocking Hills.
The course is marked all year around, and it uses rural roads as well as well maintained trails. The start of the run is at the park lodge. As you head out of the parking lot you go up a hill through a cabin area, and then off onto some rolling rural roads. At about the 3-mile mark you come to Steel Hill. Its almost a half-mile to the top, and its extremely steep. Your legs WILL remember this hill in the morning. Steel Hill breaks a lot of people, but more often runners find something deep inside that they did not know was hiding. An inner strength that not only powers them to the top but brings then back to battle the hill again. My favorite part of the run is just ahead. The next two and a half miles is a state park trail through a forest of pine trees. I cant put into words the feeling I get every time I run here, but I think this is as close to Heaven on Earth as it comes. Its an inner peace that I just cannot describe. (And its flat!) The last challenge of the run is around Rose Lake, and over Old Mans Cave. One piece of advice I can give is to print a map from the web site. (http://www.hockinghills.com/indianrun/topo.htm) I have to admit (even though its hard) that I have gotten lost more than once. The trail around the lake is still marked, but it is used a lot. Without a map its hard to tell the correct path to take. Follow the lake on your left side, and then head up hill to the wooden A-frame bridge over Old Mans Cave. All thats left is about a mile or so up hill to the lodge. Its the same park entrance road that you drove in on so it will look familiar. Pure adrenaline will power you to the finish.
The first time I ran Hocking Hills was in the fall of 99, and that is one of the best memories that I hold on to. A few times a year I am drawn back to push it just a little harder than last time. I really like to run wild, and its a great place to run alone. Hocking Hills is a memory that changed my life, and it will last forever. 17:17