News Column

Road Trip! Destination: Ohio's Hocking Hills region

June 2, 2013

YellowBrix

June 02--If you like the folksiness and quirkiness of down-home Appalachian music, wait until you see people perform it using an old-fashioned washboard as a percussion instrument, using spoons and gloves with cymbals to bring out the washboard's sound.

The 14th annual Washboard Music Festival -- June 13 to 15 in Logan, Ohio -- offers three days of concerts with bands using washboards, banjos and accordions to make melodies. But don't go just to the area, about 50 miles southeast of Columbus, for the festival. Logan is called the "Gateway to a Scenic Wonderland" because it's surrounded by the picturesque Hocking Hills region.

You can find plenty of outdoor activities and natural wonders to explore, along with a quaint town, an oddball museum, a railroad and more.

Logan is about 175 miles southwest of Pittsburgh, via Wheeling, W.Va., and Zanesville, Ohio, on Interstate 70.

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at kgormly@tribweb.com or 412-320-7824.

Get to the point

When you first drive into the area, stop at the Hocking Hills Regional Welcome Center on State Route 664. Here, you can get a bundle of information and materials to guide you on your trip. While you're there, check out the little, quirky Paul A. Johnson Pencil Sharpener Museum, said to be the only museum of the sort in the world. The late Rev. Johnson accumulated his collection over 20 years, and gathered some 3,400 pencil sharpeners made out of wood, metal, plastic and glass. The sharpeners come in all kinds of shapes including Disney characters and antique automobiles. Admission is free.

Details: 800-462-5464 or www.1800hocking.com

Clean fun

If you come on the weekend of the Washboard Music Festival, June 13 to 15, you'll get free entertainment around the heart of downtown Logan. The festival starts that Thursday with a kickoff concert and auction from 6 to 10 p.m., followed by performances from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. More than a dozen washboard acts -- like Arnett Howard and the Creole Funk Band -- and other folksy groups from around North America will perform. Local artists display and sell their folk and fine arts and crafts. You can get drinks at the beer garden and festival-style foods at booths. A Children's Fair offers amusement rides, face painting, a petting zoo and a train that circles the festival.

Columbus Washboard Co., which is 115 years old and still produces washboards every day, will offer free tours. Details: www.washboardmusicfestival.com

Music in the park

If you are in Logan any other time during the summer months, you can get free musical entertainment from 7 to 8:30 p.m. Fridays. Go to the gazebo in Worthington Park, which is in Logan's Town Center, for Music in the Park. A different band appears each week in genres including bluegrass, gospel, country and Western swing.

If you like history and old houses, take a historical walking tour through central Logan. You can see up to 23 buildings on this self-guided tour, including the county courthouse and municipal building, businesses and private residences. Details: www.scenicwonderland.com

Outdoor adventures

Outdoor lovers will dig the Logan area, which lures visitors with the multilocation Hocking Hills State Park. Rather than being one park, six nature areas around Logan are part of the park, which includes towering cliffs, waterfalls and deep gorges. Notable areas in the park include Ash Cave, a recess cave with a 700-foot rim, and Cantwell Cliffs, with a sandstone cliff that towers over a gorge 150 feet below. Stop by the Hocking Hills State Park Visitors Center, on State Route 664, before starting your adventure, so you can get information and directions.

Details: www.1800hocking.com/ohiostateparkhockinghills

If you like swimming, beaches and boating, you can go to Lake Logan, which is surrounded by hiking trails.

Details: www.scenicwonderland.com/lakelogan.htm

If you like aerial adventures, try ziplining. You can take a three-hour ziplining tour through Hocking Hills Canopy Tours, for $89 to $109.

Details: www.hockinghillscanopytours.com

Vintage rail trip

For a scenic railway trip with the family, look into the Hocking Valley Scenic Railway, with its headquarters in Nelsonville, about 12 miles southeast of Logan. In vintage train cars pulled by a diesel locomotive, you will take in the view of the historic, industrial Hocking River Valley between Nelsonville and Logan. The sights include the historic town of Haydenville, what's left of the once-thriving Hocking Canal, the remaining brick kilns of the Nelsonville Brick Co., and the winding Hocking River. Tickets for scheduled train trips -- including the weekend Noon Haydenville Train and 2:30 East Logan Train -- are $10 to $17.

Details: 740-753-9531 or www.hvsry.org

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(c)2013 The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.)

Visit The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (Greensburg, Pa.) at www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib

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