Prizm News / October 3, 2017 / By Andrew Newman

Sleep in a modern yurt, take a calming hike and enjoy a getaway close to home.


By Andrew Newman

Shinrin-yoku is the Japanese practice of forest-bathing. It’s the bathing of one’s mind and spirit rather than one’s body.

For those seeking to escape the constant turmoil of city life, nothing quite matches the fresh air of the outdoors. Immersing oneself in the contemplative majesty of nature is not only a great adventure for a weekend, but also a necessary healing of the spirit.

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At the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls in Southeast Ohio’s Hocking Hills, everyone can find all the comforts of home while still managing to discover the peace and beauty of the outdoors. Located on the border of Hocking Hills State Park, the Inn boasts log cabins, cottages, rooms at the bed and breakfast, and yurts.

Yurts are new here. Traditionally homes of nomads across the grasslands of Central Asia, yurts are round tents that support a sweeping roof without a central pole. The modern yurts at the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls come with a lavish bed (or beds), a full bathroom, a beautiful central skylight, and heating and air conditioning for any time of year.

Before making our way to the Inn, we decided to make the most of our day at Hocking Hills and trekked the small distance to Cedar Falls. The hike between Cedar Falls and another waterfall, Old Man’s Cave, is of modest difficulty but easily the most rewarding and visually stunning journey.

Beginning at Cedar Falls, visitors encounter massive moss-covered boulders and old-growth trees that transport hikers to another world as they follow bubbling Queer Creek on their way to Old Man’s Cave. While not a loop, visitors can take the same hike back to Cedar Falls or choose a slightly different path instead and visit picturesque Rose Lake.

The first impression of our yurt was excellent. Modern design harmonized beautifully with ancient heritage. The rocking chairs were of particularly impressive craftsmanship, and the bed was utterly sublime. We were delighted to be greeted with a couple homemade cookies instead of mints. The room did come with a beautiful new gas log stove, but unfortunately we could not get it working (likely user error).

Kindred Spirits is the on-location restaurantbuilt off of the original Watts cabin, circa 1840. The seasonal menu is the first designed by Executive Chef Abby Cole and showcases a hearty take on succulent high- end dishes. On our way to be seated, we cut through the intimate and bustling kitchen and watched with admiration as Chef Abby prepared dishes in front of us. The ambiance of Kindred Spirits wraps guests in a precious warmth from a half-remembered era of log cabins and grandmothers’ quilts.

The Rosemary & Parmesan Crème Brulée caught our eye as a starter and proved to be a delicate and spreadable dish served with crispy salted crostini. The perfectly plump Pistachio Crusted Scallops were a delight. And the Pan Roasted Filet Mignon was cooked with precision and integrity. We also tried the hand-stuffed Pumpkin Ravioli and another pasta dish, Chicken Paprikash, and were moved by the depth of flavor, especially from the ravioli. For dessert, we tried the Wild Berry Cobbler and Chocolate Mousse and were perfectly content.

That night, the oft-times forgotten stars bloomed in radiance from the inky black. The best view of the magnificent night sky is found on the cozy patio attached to our yurt facing away from the lights of the Inn & Spa at Cedar Falls. We enjoyed ending our evening there in quiet contemplation.

There exists an assumption that the LGBTQ community and rural Ohio are somehow incompatible. There is a warning half-heard, repeated over and over, that rural life is unsafe for us. And while we wholeheartedly advocate for personal safety and awareness at all times, every member of the staff was absolutely affirming, and we spoke with several other members of the LGBTQ community while there.

Donnie, who is hoping to buy a house locally with his partner of five years, helped serve us our complimentary breakfast. Misty graciously checked us out of our room and saw us off. And hikers Linda and Heidi were an absolute pleasure to get to know, after they finished taking selfies together at Cedar Falls.

Andrew Newman is a freelance writer.

Bob Vitale
A Toledo native and graduate of Toledo Public Schools, Bob has worked as a local government and politics reporter for The Columbus Dispatch, as a Washington correspondent for Thomson Newspapers and as editor-in-chief for Outlook Ohio. He has a bachelor's degree in journalism and political science from Ball State University and a master's degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Illinois-Springfield.