Looking for a dog-friendly "nature vacation" spot within a half-day's drive from Cincinnati, we discovered Hocking Hills (an easy 2-1/2 hour drive). Then, thanks to TripAdvisor, we discovered that Old Man's Cave Chalets (OMCC) offers several pet-friendly lodging options at fairly reasonable prices. We chose "The Settler" cabin, and loved it so much we wanted to stay longer than the 3 days/2 nights we were there with our 2 dogs (Sept 29-Oct 1, 2008). It sits atop a little hillock and faces west, so you can watch beautiful sunsets -- and deer in the meadow -- from the large hot-tub that sits on the generously-sized, covered front deck.
We found the pictures and descriptions from their website were true-to-life. The kitchen and bathroom had been fairly recently remodeled, with good-quality appliances/fixtures, and tucked away behind doors in the bathroom were even a nice, new , front-load washer & dryer. (These came in handy to rinse the hot-tub chemicals from our swimsuits, then give them an air-fluff so they'd be dry & ready to pack in the morning.) The fact that this cabin sat up a bit also allowed us to get 2-3 bars on our cell phones (Cincinnati Bell/AT&T). The cabin had a DirecTV dish, and a TV with built-in DVD and VHS player. (Husband was happy.)
The management of the properties is excellent. The front-office folks are friendly and helpful, and the office itself is surprisingly nice. When we first arrived at the cabin, we noticed how clean and thoughtfully-appointed it was, and how it didn't have any musty or "cabin-y" odor. in spite of its being surrounded on 2 sides by dense woods. But then we flushed the toilet and it began overflowing -- not a good omen for the remainder of our stay, we feared! But we called the office -- which was at least a 5-minute drive from this cabin -- and they said they'd send someone right out. Sure enough, not more than 10 minutes later, a nice guy arrived, apologized for the inconvenience, and fixed the problem & cleaned up the water. We never had a problem again (we suspect the previous guests had flushed something they shouldn't have), but knew if we did, that we'd be taken care of quickly.
The cabin is in a great location -- within a few minutes' drive from the 3 most popular hiking areas: Old Man's Cave, Ash Cave, and Cedar Falls. The OMCC front office will give you some helpful basic maps & guidance when you check in. And if you stop at one of the 2 Hocking Hills Visitors Centers on your drive in, you can also pick up a larger area map and other helpful tips based on what your interests and needs are. If you have a few weeks before your trip, go to the Hocking Hills website, and request a free visitor guide -- it will arrive in about 10 days (or you can pick up a copy at the Visitor Centers).
If you bring a dog or two, OMCC charges $30/dog (per-stay, not per-night). This is kind of steep for a short stay like ours, but not too out of line with what other "pet-friendly" places charge. Most of the hiking areas allow dogs too (but not Conkle's Hollow or Rock House). There's no leash-length restriction, so you could use a Flexi, but I would strongly advise against it. Use a standard 6-foot leash instead, because some of the trails (especialy at Old Man's Cave and Cedar Falls) can turn abruptly hazardous -- you wouldn't want your pooch charging after a squirrel and dropping off one of the steep ledges! Also, you may come to spots where you will need your hands for balance as you navigate through some tricky areas, and you'll appreciate the simplicity of a basic, wrist-loop leash instead of the bukly complexity of a Flexi contraption.
If you &/or your dog need easy trails (no steps or steep grades), the best are at Ash Cave -- there is a 1/4 mile, paved "handicap-accessible" trail -- and at Old Man's Cave, where among the many hiking options, there is a 2-mile long trail that connects to the Ash Cave area. The sign at the trailhead there warns that this trail is "moderately strenuous" but that's only if you follow it all the way & back. We ambled pokily along it for about 40 minutes then just turned around and walked back, and it was a very easy, peaceful walk on a wide, fairly flat, path.
We will definitely return to Hocking Hills, and will stay at OMCC's Settler cabin again. Two thumbs -- and 8 paws -- up!