First waterfall: Angel Falls
Height: 10 feet
Crest: 30 feet
Difficulty to reach: Easy to Moderate
Water flow level: High

Located in the isolated forests of Lake County, Hell Hollow Wilderness Area is as wild its name suggests. The preserve is part of the Lake County Metro Parks system and protects 838 acres of the Paine Creek Valley. While the complete isolation Hell Hollow offers you is enough to make the park worthy of visiting, the abundance of waterfalls that can be found within its borders make Hell Hollow an absolute must see for any Ohioan. While over a dozen notable waterfalls can be found in the park, four of the park’s best waterfalls are located in the downstream portion of the park and can all be visited on a four-mile out and back hike. No trail will take you to these waterfalls, so you’ll have to make the journey off-trail, following the unreliable path of past explorers. 

  • Address: Hell Hollow Wilderness Area, Thompson, Ohio
  • Heights (in feet): 10, 20, 30, 20
  • Crests (in feet): 30, 10, 40, 10
  • Difficulty to reach: Very Hard, Off-trail
  • Water flow level: Moderate flow

Angel Falls in low water

Continuing downstream for about a third of a mile, you will reach the confluence of Paine Creek and a prominent tributary stream. Follow this stream up for about 200 yards to find yourself at the base of a massive 30-foot waterfall. If you haven’t had too much difficulty getting to this point, I suggest you scale the ridge just to the right of the falls to view the 20-foot Secret Falls located just above this waterfall. Thanks to its moderately narrow crest, Secret Falls flows nearly year round 

Begin by parking at the address listed above. Take the Beechridge Loop Trail out of the lot in a clockwise direction. A short walk through a forest of hemlocks will take you to a 130-foot overlook of the Paine Creek Valley. Here, you will leave the Beechridge Loop Trail and begin on the Wildcat Hollow Trail by descending into the valley via 262 wooden steps. Once you’ve reached the base of the stairs, follow the trail downstream. The Wildcat Hollow Trail will end, but a very obvious worn path continues. Roughly a half mile from the overlook you will come across the ten-foot Angel Falls on Paine Creek, the largest waterfall on this hike in terms of volume of water. 

Second waterfall: 20-foot falls
Height: 20 feet
Crest: 10 feet
Difficulty to reach: Difficult
Water flow level: Low to Moderate flow

Hell Hollow Waterfalls

Third and Fourth Waterfalls: 30-foot falls and Secret Falls
Heights: 30 feet, 20 feet
Crests: 40 feet, 10 feet
Difficulty to reach: Difficult
Water flow level: Moderate flow

Immediately following Angel Falls the path you’ve been following will become much more rugged, and you’ll have no choice but to scramble to higher heights to avoid falling into the creek. Half a mile later an unnamed 20-foot waterfall will come into view on the left side of the creek. Although in high water this is one of the most scenic waterfalls in Northeast Ohio, summer heat can turn this waterfall into no more than a trickle. 

Getting back to your car:

To return to your car from here, you have two options: Either descend the ridge and backtrack the way you came or ascend the ridge on the opposite side of Secret falls, hike through the upland forest for a quarter of a mile (frequently check your gps to make sure you stay on park land) then turn right onto Trask Road when you exit the forest. Follow Trask Road for ¾ of a mile then stay right onto Brockway Road and follow it for a mile, then turn right onto Leroy Center Road and follow it for ¼ of a mile to find yourself back at the park’s entrance. Although this route is probably a bit longer in terms of distance than just backtracking, it saves time and energy because you get to walk on a road instead of the side of a valley.