This IBA includes a region of the state known for its distinctive rough topography of hemlock gorges, sandstone cliffs, rock shelters, and waterfalls. Several state parks and state nature preserves are included in this region, including Cantwell Cliffs, Rock House, Conkle's Hollow, Crane Hollow, Old Man's Cave, Cedar Falls, and Ash Cave. The Hocking State Forest provides over 9,000 acres to the IBA land area.
Distinctive is the regular occurrence of mature hemlock-hardwood forest in ravines. The uplands are a variable mix of mature mixed oak forest, northern-affinity plant species, planted and native pines with some pitch/Virginia pine on trails, successional areas, and small-scale agriculture.
Hemlock ravine specialists are abundant. The hemlock gorges and mature hardwood uplands have an excellent mix of mature forest avifauna - e.g. Hermit Thrush, Blue-headed Vireo, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Magnolia Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Canada Warbler, Cerulean Warbler, Blackburnian Warbler, and Worm-eating Warbler. Pine Warblers are in healthy concentrations, above average for the state. Northern Parulas numbered perhaps 30% of state population in 1991, though they may have dropped to closer to 25% today with expansion to the northwest.
Development for tourism is rather benign, being based around the natural surroundings, but does fragment the forested areas along roadways. Franklin County Metro Parks, The Nature Conservancy, and Hocking Hills Land Trust have protected significant areas.