Cleveland hikers looking for something a little different will certainly find that in Ohio Caverns, located near West Liberty in Salem Township. We realize this is a trek from Cleveland, but trust usit’s well worth it. Ohio Caverns is the largest cave system in Ohio, with over 2 miles of passageways going down 103 feet, so don’t worry about not being able to use your legs. Beyond its size, the cave is also notable for being a work in progressaround 90 of its stalactite and stalagmite formations are still growing. As a member of the National Caves Association, Ohio Caverns draws tourists from all around.Dating the cave is difficult, but the Columbus Grey Limestone which composes the caverns is around 400 million years old. The most impressive formation in the cave, however, is much younger. Known as the Crystal King, this 5-foot-long, 400 lb. stalactite is staggering even on an international scale, and is somewhere over 200,000 years old. The caves themselves were discovered in 1897 by a farmhand who investigated a sinkhole after a heavy rain. The caverns were first opened by the farmer William Reams and known as Mt. Tabor Cave Tours. In 1922, Reams sold the caverns to the Smith brothers, who concentrated on uncovering the rest of the caverns.Besides the Crystal King, there are a variety of other formations in the cave which are also notable, whether for their color or composition. You’ll find formations blue, orange, white, and black, especially in the room known as the Palace of the Gods. The Palace also features rare “dual formation” combinations of iron-oxide and calcium crystals. Ohio Caverns is one of the only caves in the world, and the only one in North America, known to feature these combinations. The largest room in the cave is known as the Big Room, and includes the Good Luck Crystal. Tradition once held that touching this crystal brought good luck, but the human contact stained the crystal brown. Touching is no longer allowed, and the formation was saddled with the less-impressive moniker The Dirty Crystal.Most visitors will want to take one of the regular guided tours, which last 45 minutes and covers one mile. Historic Tours are available for groups of 10 or more who call in advancethese cover 1 miles and take approximately 1 hours. Ohio Caverns is located in a 35 acre park, featuring a shelter house and a number of picnic tables. Gem and fossil mining is available from prepackaged bags of mining “rough,” which may contain gemstones, fossils, and/or arrowheads.If you’d like to see what lies inside the heart of Ohioliterallythen plan a trip to Ohio Caverns. It’s getting better all the time.