Located in the Hocking Hills region of southeastern Ohio, the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve is home to Ohio’s longest natural bridge, and of the 12 known natural arches in Ohio Rockbridge is the only one with a town named after it! The natural arch or bridge is 95 feet long, 3 feet thick, varies from 7 to 26 feet in width and arches 40 feet above the plunge pool of the waterfall behind it.
The bridge originated as a typical Hocking Hills alcove carved into the soft middle layer of Black Hand sandstone at the head of a short box canyon cut by a small tributary of the Hocking River. Wind, rain and percolating groundwater worked together for thousands of years, carving a deep cave-like recess in soft Black Hand sandstone. Gradually erosional forces worked along a natural joint plane some distance behind the brink of the cliff, and over the centuries this ongoing process widened the crevice. Today all that remains of the overhanging ledge is the narrow rock arch.
From the Nature Preserve’s parking lot it’s approximately a 1 mile hike to the Rockbridge natural arch. The trail is fairly flat at first and then goes up hill once you enter the woods. Photographically, the best time to visit is early morning or evening when the sun is lower in the sky. Since you’ll want to photograph the arch from below, the sky will be too bright during the mid-day hours and it will be almost impossible to get a good overall exposure. To capture the full length of the arch, a wide angle lens with a focal length in the range of 15 to 25mm is needed. Move around underneath the arch as many good compositions are possible from either side of the ravine. I would also recommend visiting in the spring when you’ll likely have a waterfall to include in your composition.
More information about the Rockbridge State Nature Preserve can be found at:
Ohio Department of Natural Resources – Rockbridge State Nature Preserve
Hocking Hills State Park – Rockbridge State Nature Preserve Trail Map
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