Unknown to many, Ohio is home to the world’s largest effigy mound. The Great Serpent Mound in Adams County, Ohio, is surrounded by mystery, wonder, and tradition. It is a National Historic Landmark that should be on every Ohio Bucket List. Here are five fun things to do during a visit to Serpent Mound.
Where Is The Serpent Mound In Ohio
The Great Serpent Mound Historical Site is located in Adams County, Ohio. It was is along the plateau of Serpent Crater by Ohio Bush Creek. Not only is Serpent Mount the largest effigy mound in North America, it is the largest in the world.
Address: 3850 OH-73, Peebles, OH 45660
What Does It Cost To Visit Serpent Mound
There is an $8.00 parking fee only.
Be sure to check the hours as things can change quickly. As of this article, the park is not open on Mondays.
There are picnic spots, a shelter, and restrooms available.
Tip: There are not many additional attractions, restaurants, hotels, nor things to do outside of Serpent Mound. I recommend making the stop if you pass through the area or as part of a road trip. We stopped here during our road trip to Portsmouth, Ohio.
This would also make a great day trip if you live within a one-hour drive. Pack a picnic to enjoy at the park and enjoy the day!
See The World’s Largest Effigy Mound
What is Serpent Mound
Serpent Mound is a 1,348 foot-long effigy mound in the shape of a snake with a curled tail. An effigy mound is a mound in the form of an animal made of earth. These giant earthen sculptures may be shrines to honor the powerful spirits they represent.
Ohio’s effigy mounds were not typically used for burials. However, effigy mounds in southern Wisconsin and eastern Iowa were. Serpent Mound State Memorial is currently being operated on behalf of the Ohio Historical Society by the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System.
The Shape Of The Great Serpent
Serpent mound doesn’t represent any serpent; it represents the Great Serpent, the Lord of the World Below. The giant snake winds back and forth for more than 800ft and seven coils. The serpent’s head has an open mouth extending about a long hollow oval shape. Many believe that it represents the snake eating an egg, however other theories include the sun or the body of a frog.
Serpent Mound is a National Historic Landmark, a sacred site, and is a current nomination to be on the UNESCO World Heritage List.
Fun Facts About Serpent Mound
- The head of the serpent lines up to the western horizon during the summer solstice sunset.
- Some think the three primary curves of the Serpent’s body point to the Summer Solstice sunrise, the Equinox Sunrise, and the Winter Solstice Sunrise.
- No one knows the actual age of Serpent Mound. Radiocarbon dates reveal the mound is over 2000 years old.
- There is a theory that the Great Serpent is missing a coil.
- Serpent Mound was saved from destruction in 1885 by Frederic Ward Putnam, Professor of Archaeology. He played a significant role in ancient discoveries throughout Ohio.
Visit the Serpent Mound Museum
The museum is a short walk from the parking lot. The small museum consists of artifacts from the Adena Culture, The Fort Ancient Culture, along with detailed dioramas on burial mounds, effigy mounds, and more. A short video highlights different aspects of Serpent Mound. The museum has a cute gift shop as well.
Dive deeper into the history of the Adena people, the Hopewell culture, along other ancient American Indian cultures.
During your visit to the museum, it will help answer some of the popular questions such as:
Who Built The Serpent Mound
There are a few theories on who built this iconic effigy mound, but it is clear that it was built by the ancestors of modern-day Native Americans who lived in the region. Some argue that the Adena Culture built the mound nearly 2,300 years ago since it is the same culture that created the large burial mound on the east end of the parking lot. Others think it was the Fort Ancient people nearly 900 years ago as that culture built the small burial mound near the west end of the parking lot.
“Serpent Mound was purposefully built for a special, sacred purpose. I should think that anyone that views the Serpent will realize its sacredness and treat this place as they would any cathedral, synagogue, or mosque. When we see this place, this is our holy ground.” – Ben Barnes, Second Chief of the Shawnee Tribe.
Learn How Serpent Mound Was Built
It appears that both parts of this particular earthwork in Ohio were first outlined upon a smooth surface along the ridge of the hill. Then along the steeper portions of the hill, the base mixed with stones prevents the structure from being washed away by heavy rain.
Climb The Observation Tower To View Serpent Mound
Get an aerial view of the mound by climbing the observation tower. The observation tower is strategically located in a spot so that guests can view the entire Serpent. There are quite a few steep steps to climb, and there is not an elevator to get to the top. I highly recommend the climb to the top to get a full appreciation of the mound.
Discover Ancient Burial Mounds
Visit two burial mounds near Serpent Mound. One is located near the east end of the parking lot, the other near the west end.
The larger mound began with the burial of an important man more than 2,000 years ago. The community added more burials later, which increased the mound size. The large mound was excavated in the late 1880s and was deemed the work of the Adena culture that lived in Southern Ohio between 600 BCE and 100 CE.
The smaller mound is thought to be built by the Fort Ancient Culture. These burial sites are considered sacred and should be treated as such.
Go For A Hike Along The Great Serpent
Two different trails are ideal for a quick afternoon hike. The first is a paved trail that circles the Serpent. The path is easy to manage, as informative panels throughout and beautiful overlooks. Dogs can visit as long as they are on a leash.
The Nature Trail, aka Ohio Brush Creek Hiking Trail, is a 1-mile moderate hike that takes guests into the Ohio valley, past the river, and pops them back up by the Serpent. Keep in mind there are steep cliffs so keep small children close by.
Check Out Additional Earthworks In Ohio
Ohio is full of Ancient Earthworks. Ohio has one other well-documented effigy mound called Alligator Mound. Discover Ohio’s Ancient Trail to learn about the area’s rich history, earthworks, and more! The Ohio History Connection is a great source of information and guides to Ohio’s Earthworks.
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