The scenic area just outdoor of Columbus is extra than memorable hikes and Instagram-ready waterfalls Just a half hour or so from Columbus, Ohio’s Hocking Hills location, mentioned for its dramatic caves, miniature gorges, scenic waterfalls, and miles of first-rate hiking trails, is one of the maximum beautiful herbal regions in the Midwest—beautiful sufficient to attract extra than 4 million visitors every 12 months, it’s far said, in the main at some stage in the hotter months.

The first time I encountered the area, on one of these perfect summertime afternoons, I wasn’t a great deal worried about whatever other than the herbal splendor, ending the day with dinner in Columbus; the second one and 1/3 visits, same issue—part of the region’s attraction is how little of the artificial there is to look, both in and across the terrific Hocking Hills State Park.

The fourth visit, but I planned to live awhile, or even the maximum devoted nature lover can’t dine out at the scenery forever. Eventually, I’d need to consume something top with a bit of luck, which meant that eventually, I become going to run into Matt Rapposelli—that, or as a minimum, considered one of his menus.

Since the early 1980s, Rapposelli has suggested Southeast Ohio and one of the star chefs in a place he refers to as the “northern line of biscuit fanaticism.” He has embraced lifestyles on your step of Appalachia, celebrating the ramps and the morels of the springtime, cornmeal-dusted catfish, and luxurious fruit cobblers; in latest years, he opened one of the better informal eating places within the Hocking Hills, Lake Hope Lodge; nowadays, he’s Executive Chef on the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls.

In extra than thirty years, Rapposelli says he has visible dramatic modifications to the eating place scene—regrettably, he says, he visible too among the place’s conventional restaurants fall by using the wayside. Still, he says, there’s the reason for optimism—with the proximity to Columbus, more and more exquisite for its dining scene, and is bookended with the aid of two very extraordinary, as a substitute extensive towns which have an increasing number of to provide—Athens and Lancaster—things are beginning to pick up, especially within the smaller, however also pretty busy metropolis of Logan, roughly twenty mins via car from the place’s most iconic trails. With Rapposelli’s expert steerage, I’ve compiled a list of the first-class (and most exciting) places to devour and drink after you’ve worn yourself out hiking on the trails—something you must seriously bear in mind doing this summer. Or fall. Or anytime, sincerely.

The Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls

It would help if you drove past the location’s first-class hotel 100 times without even blinking—the actual magic is within the well-crafted cottage and yurt accommodations, expertly allotted in the surrounding area and forest, all inside taking walks distance of Kindred Spirits, the area’s great restaurant, in which Rapposelli has been in rate of the kitchen for about a year now. Originally, you dined within the 1840’s log cabin that is now the doorway and bar vicinity—the diminutive, adjoining kitchen remains, properly, the kitchen. However, they’re managing to show out sincere, quite memorable dinners, using nearby components wherein feasible. A perfectly-cooked bistro steak comes out topped quite liberally with a gorgonzola and thyme cream sauce, whilst a truly large (and delicious) latest special of blackened high rib simply should discover an everlasting home at the menu. If there may be a cobbler for dessert, order the cobbler. Breakfast is served right here, as nicely—in high season, they do lunch, too.