Last weekend, I spent a very enjoyable three days getting to know Hocking Hills, Ohio (about 50 miles south of Columbus). Brimming with rustic natural beauty, these rolling Black Hand sandstone hills are alive with the sights and sounds of flora and fauna galore. My group did a foraging hike, a wildflower hike and a ghost hike, in addition to rappelling, ziplining, Segway-ing (Seguing???) and a whole lot of eating. Hey, you’ve got to keep up your strength for all that adventure, right?
First up was a lovely gourmet dinner at the Inn and Spa at Cedar Falls, where each night I snuggled into the adorable Honeysuckle cabin kitted out with a gas fireplace and a Jacuzzi tub. There are no TVs in any of these accommodations, but who cares when you can climb into your cushy bed after a full day in the fresh air and fall asleep to rain hitting the roof and animals skittering across the big wraparound deck.
But I digress…. the acclaimed food and beverage program here delivers a surprisingly upscale experience for a cozy little country inn. Terry, one of the owners, curates an impressive wine selection that, together with the chef-driven cuisine, culminates in outstanding meals. From the spring seasonal menu, I sampled the asparagus/cress salad with fennel and a poached egg, a broth redolent of morels and ramps, and housemade ravioli filled with smoked duck.
For dessert, the Creamsicle crème brulee satisfied my sweet tooth, and my penchant for childhood nostalgia.
Other notable meals included lunches comprised of a tasty Reuben and onion rings at Rocky Boots café within the sprawling outfitter store, and addictively smoky bacon-wrapped burnt ends with sweet cornbread muffins and whipped honey butter at Millstone BBQ.
Barbecue’s big in this neck of the woods, and Lake Hope Lodge is a good spot to sample some. High on a hill overlooking a gorgeous vista, the lodge smokes meats that show up in some unexpected preparations, like this brisket-and-blue salad.
To wash it all down, Hocking Hills Moonshine brews some potent hooch using a family recipe that’s been around for generations. If the original white lightning’s not to your taste, they also offer some ridiculously delicious flavored variations in shades of raspberry, blackberry, green apple and peach tea.
On our last morning, Chef Moe’s on the Go of Columbus food truck fame saw us off with sumptuous cinnamon rolls, bacon, potatoes, fruit and breakfast stromboli.
To learn more about this enchanting little corner of Ohio, visit explorehockinghills.com.