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Can you believe there were once thousands of Indian mounds in Ohio? Today there are over 70 that you can visit.
If you love history, you may set a goal to visit all of them. But if that thought leaves you overwhelmed, leave it to us. We’ve done a bit of research and pulled together a list of mounds that we consider “must-see” so you have someplace to begin. Now, let’s get started!
Who Built the Mounds in Ohio?
Long before American pioneers came to what was then the “Northwest Territory” in the late 18th century, Native Americans called this place home. What we now know as Ohio was home to several Native groups, including the Erie, the Kickapoo, and the Shawnee people. Other groups that inhabited this area include the Cherokee, Mohican, Miami, Wyandot, and Seneca. Prior to these groups, the Hopewell people inhabited much of what is now Ohio. Around 2,000 years ago, the Hopewell people built ceremonial mounds in many places.
What is the Purpose of Indian Mounds?
Mounds were built in many versions and for many reasons. The most common are the burial mounds, and effigy mounds, which resemble an animal shape.
Has Anything Been Discovered in the Mounds?
Some of the mounds in Ohio are known to be burial sites. There are also ceremonial mounds while the purpose of other mounds remains a mystery. Some of the excavated mounds have uncovered pottery fragments, food, jewelry, stone, flint, etc.
What are the most popular Mounds to Visit in Ohio?
The Great Serpent Mound in southern Ohio may be the best-known mound in the state. Other popular places to see mounds are the Hopewell Culture National Historic Park and Newark Earthworks.
The Ohio Historical Society has a ton of information about the mounds for those who are serious about learning some of the histories of the state before it became Ohio.
In 2008, a list of 14 Ohio mounds collectively known as the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks was submitted to UNESCO for consideration as a World Heritage Site.
How Many Indian Mounds are in Ohio?
It is believed that Ohio is home to over 70 Indian Mounds that the public can access. These mounds were built by the Adena and Hopewell native American cultures. Some of the historic sites sit on private property and are inaccessible, but a number of the earthen mounds are visible in public parks and lands.
Use this list of mounds in Ohio to plan a few Ohio road trips this summer!
Must-See Indian Mounds in Ohio
1. Alligator Mound
Bryn Du Drive Granville, Ohio
This is a great example of an effigy mound built to resemble an alligator. This mound near Granville is not too far from Columbus and is now set in a housing subdivision. It is not as prominent as other Ohio mounds, but you can still make out the shape of the animal, as it is 250 feet long. It is not known who built this mound or why they built it, but experts now think it may represent a possum or a cougar rather than an alligator. The mound is best seen by climbing a short hill nearby.
2. Buffington Island Mound
56890 Ohio River Scenic Byway Portland, Ohio
Set on an island in the Ohio River, Buffington Island State Memorial is an important spot for several reasons. Of course, there is a Native American mound here that is 25 feet tall and 125 feet in diameter. The State Memorial also commemorates the site of the only significant Civil War battle in Ohio.
The park is open every day from dawn to dusk.
3. Cross Mound Park
11615 16th Rd SW Stoutsville, Ohio
Like many of the mounds in Ohio, the origins and exact dates of this one are unknown. This mound is unique in that it is shaped like a cross, with arms that are 45 feet long and three feet high. It appears to be oriented to the compass points of north, south, east, and west and may have been part of a Hopewell road connecting other Indian mounds in Ohio. The park is open daily from sunrise to sunset.
Note: Though not strenuous, there is a bit of a walk required to reach the mound. Park in the Cross Mound Park parking area, cross over the WPA Pedestrian Bridge (which is worth the trip to the park by itself: and follow the trail to the mound).
4. Enon Adena Mound
Mound Circle Drive Enon, Ohio
This mound near Dayton has been attributed to the Adena people and is the second-largest conical mound in Ohio. It stands 28 feet high and 110 feet in diameter. Also known as the Knob Prairie Mound, not much is known about this mound, but it is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The mound is owned by the city of Enon and is located downtown where anyone can see it.
5. Fort Ancient
6123 State Route 350 Oregonia, Ohio
This historic park in Southwest Ohio sits on the shore of the Little Miami River near Lebanon. In addition to being Ohio’s first state park, this important historic site is also part of the Hopewell Ceremonial Earthworks, nominated to be one of Ohio’s first UNESCO World Heritage sites.
Fort Ancient State Memorial encompasses over 100 acres and is the largest prehistoric hilltop enclosure in the United States. Later, settlers assumed this was some kind of fort, hence the name Fort Ancient. The site includes four mounds arranged in a square, a museum, gift shop, and hiking trails.
6. Fort Hill Earthworks & Nature Preserve
13614 Fort Hill Rd. Hillsboro, Ohio
This nature preserve near Cincinnati is home to ancient earthworks covering just over 35 acres. There are two walled enclosures on the property, both of which are estimated to be around 2000 years old. The site is very similar to Fort Ancient, which is only 50 miles away.
Besides the earthworks, the preserve also has fantastic hiking trails, with many different tree, plant, and bird species. The public park is open daily during daylight hours but check ahead in the fall for deer hunting dates.
7. Gnadenhutten Native Burial Mound
S. Cherry St. Gnadenhutten, Ohio
In 1782, a tragic massacre took place that killed hundreds of Christian Native Americans. To see the mound today you will visit Gnadenhutten-Clay Union Cemetery, one of the oldest cemeteries in Ohio. This burial mound contains the remains of around 500 people, with the mound 3’ by 10’.
Today, you can visit Historic Schoenbrunn Village, which includes the mound and restored village buildings. There’s also a small museum where you can learn more about the Gnadenhutten Massacre.
8. Hartman Mound
The Plains, Ohio
Just outside Athens, The Plains is home to Hartman Mound. At 40 feet high, and 130 feet in diameter, this is the largest and best-preserved example of the Wolfe’s Plains mounds. At least 30 mounds and earthworks have been discovered on this unique mesa that sits above the Hocking River. The mound has never been excavated, but it is presumed to be a burial mound, like many similar mounds in the region.
The site is on private property but is well-marked so you can stop and observe from a respectful distance.
9. Highbanks Metro Park
9466 US-23, Lewis Center, Ohio
This popular metro park outside of Columbus is a very popular hiking spot. However, it’s also home to two important Indian mounds. Known as Mound I and Mound II, these mounds are also attributed to the Adena culture. Mounds of this type are often assumed to be burial mounds. An earthwork structure from a different culture and time period has also been located on this site.
In addition to the mounds, the park has a lovely bluff overlooking the Olentangy State Scenic River, with many hiking trails through the surrounding woods.
10. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park
State Route 104 Chillicothe, Ohio
This Ohio Indian mound site is part of the National Park Service and comprises six individual sites of mounds and earthworks in Ross County. The mounds are believed to be from anywhere between 200 BC and 500 AD. The six sites are spread around the town of Chillicothe and include Seip Earthworks, Hopewell Mound Group, the Mound City Group, Hopeton Earthworks, and High Bank Works.
The latter site is not open to the public, but the others can all be visited in one day. Several sites have hiking trails and ranger programs, including a Junior Ranger program at the Mound City Group visitor center. The National Historic Park is open every day from sunrise to sunset.
Story Mound State Memorial is another preserved mound in Chillicothe, just five minutes from the National Historic Park.
11. Indian Mound Reserve & Peterson Park
2750 US Rt. 42 E. Cedarville, Ohio
This park east of Dayton is home to many fun things to do and see, including the Williamson Mound and the Pollock Works. These historic Native structures have been preserved and protected within the park. The Mound is nearly 30 feet tall and covered with overgrowth; it is thought to have been built for defensive purposes, offering a strategic high vantage point. The Pollock Works are made of 25-foot limestone walls.
Don’t miss Cedar Cliff Falls when you visit this Ohio park.
12. Miamisburg Mound Park
900 Mound Rd. Miamisburg, Ohio
At 65 feet tall, this is one of the largest conical mounds in North America. Located on the southwest outskirts of Dayton, this mound is also on the National Register of Historic Places. Attributed to the Adena culture, and is believed to be a burial mound.
Today, the mound is part of a town park, and you can climb to the top of the mound for spectacular views, especially at sunrise or sunset.
13. Mound Cemetery
5th St & Scammel St. Marietta, Ohio
This city cemetery was established in 1801 around the existing burial mound of the Hopewell culture. The Great Mound is attributed to Hopewell Culture, and is thought to date back to 100 BC to 500 AD. In the late 18th century, Marietta was settled as part of the Northwest Territory and the cemetery was created around the mound, protecting it.
This cemetery also has the highest number of American Revolutionary War officers in the country. You’ll also find a geocache or two here.
14. Newark Earthworks
455 Hebron Rd. Heath, Ohio
This Ohio site contains the largest surviving Hopewell earthwork complex in North America. There are three sections of mounds at this site, which include the Great Circle Earthworks, Octagon Earthworks, and the Wright Earthworks. It is speculated that the Octagon Earthworks was used as a lunar observatory.
The Earthworks sites are open daily during daylight hours, and guided tours are given on Fridays and Saturdays. There is also a museum on-site, however, it is currently closed until further notice.
15. Serpent Mound Historical Site
3850 OH-73 Peebles, Ohio
The Serpent Mound in Adams County is the largest effigy mound in the world. The serpent-shaped mound is over 1,300 feet long and three feet tall. The mound is believed to have been created by the Adena people around 800BC to 100AD, based on some burial mounds found nearby. However, because no artifacts were left inside the Serpent Mound Ohio, it’s difficult to know who built the mound and why. Even more interesting is the fact that this mound is set on the edge of a prehistoric meteor crater.
Today, visitors can stroll around the mound and learn more about the practice of effigy mounds. The site is closed on Mondays, but open every other day until 5 pm and is free for Ohio History Connection members.
16. Shrum Mound
3141 McKinley Ave. Columbus, Ohio
This burial mound has been encompassed by Campbell Memorial Park in Columbus. Attributed to the Adena culture, it is estimated to be around 2,000 years old. Informational plaques help tell the story of Ohio’s mounds, and you can climb the mound for beautiful views of the river and surrounding areas.
The mound is open during daylight hours year-round.
17. Zaleski Mounds
Near the intersection of Broadway Street and Webb Hollow Road Zaleski, Ohio
The Ranger Station Mound, located within the Zaleski National Forest boundaries, is the largest of a series of three remaining mounds located in Zaleski. The group of mounds is believed to have been built by the Adena culture between 800 BC and 200 AD. Originally the group consisted of six mounds but three were destroyed before being added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974.
Two other smaller mounds remain in Zaleski. The Markham Mound is on private property but the Methodist Church Mound can be seen behind the Zaleski United Methodist Church.
Have you visited any of the mounds listed here? Or seen any other mounds in Ohio that should be added to the list?