Ohio’s landscape is rich in mounds and other earthworks built by prehistoric Native American cultures that we know little about today. What remains of these earthworks are in varying states of repair, so if you want to learn more it’s good to choose a destination with interpretive information and trails that offer quality hiking. Here are a few of the best earthworks hikes to get you started.
Serpent Mound is a bucket-list destination—not just for Ohio, but globally. This unique and spectacular effigy mound is in the shape of a snake with a coiled tail and a mouth opened around what looks like an egg. The quarter-mile-long mound is well preserved and maintained, plus it’s easy to view. You’ll be drawn to start at the overlook tower to get a proper vantage. Then walk the paved path that surrounds Serpent Mound. Check out the museum to learn more about the mound-building Adena culture. Take a short spur trail (by the conical mound near the handicap parking) to the statewide 1,400-mile Buckeye Trail—look for the BT’s trademark blue blaze. Try heading west for an out-and-back hike to the length of your liking. Less than 2 hours south of Columbus, hours and days of operation vary by season (call or check online to confirm as the site is mostly closed between late November and end of February and always closed on Mondays); $8 admission. More Info: ohiohistory.org
Highbanks Metro Park
A popular local Columbus option, Highbanks is known for many miles of trails, bald eagles and views of the Olentangy River. But it’s also home to Native American earthworks. Start at the Nature Center and check out the Adena room for more info about these prehistoric people and their earthworks. Then take the Dripping Rock Trail, including a spur to an Adena mound. From the Dripping Rock Trail, join the Overlook Trail, which takes you to the river overlook. Before arriving at the overlook, keep your eyes peeled for a long earthen embankment; these are the earthworks. Out and back, this option is about 2.5 miles, but more mileage is adjacent. Open 6:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. April 1 through Sept. 30; 6:30 a.m. to 8 p.m. Oct. 1 through March 31. More Info: metroparks.net