Salpetre Cave State Nature Preserve is yet another great place in the Hocking Hills to visit should you feel the need to escape the crowds at the state parks. Small in size, only 14 acres, this preserve is undoubtedly large in beauty. In my opinion, this is one of the most fascinating areas to explore in the Hocking Hills for those who are into caves and rocks and just downright interesting geology. This work of Mother Nature is all enveloped in a wonderful hemlock forest and little known to unsuspecting passersby on nearby Big Pine Road.
Multiple recess caves are actually found in the preserve. A couple are well in excess of 100′ feet in depth, making these the deepest recess caves in Ohio. The deep caves are wide and the ceilings several feet high so it is possible to walk the entire depth of each cave. Be sure to take a flashlight. We found cave crickets at the back of the deepest cave. Even on a 25-degree day as when we visited, the temperature deep in the cave was significantly warmer. Saltpetre, used for gun powder, was mined here in the past, hence the name, and can be seen as a white substance on the ceiling of some of the caves.
As mentioned, Saltpetre Cave Nature Preserve is located on Big Pine Road, east of Conkle’s Hollow. I’m not going to disclose the exact location because a permit from ODNR is required before visiting. You’ll receive directions with the permit. It will take a few days to receive a permit so plan ahead. Here is a link to the permit page on ODNR’s web site: http://ohiodnr.com/tabid/1981/Default.aspx.
Below are a few pics that certainly do not do this preserve justice. (Most of the other pics I took during our visit did not turn out too well.)