Monday, July 27, 2009

Williamson Indian Mound

There is nothing more eloquent in Nature than a mountain stream, and this is the first I ever saw. Its banks are luxuriantly peopled with rare and lovely flowers and overarching trees, making one of Nature's coolest and most hospitable places. Every tree, every flower, every ripple and eddy of this lovely stream seemed solemnly to feel the presence of the great Creator. Lingered in this sanctuary a long time thanking the Lord with all my heart for his goodness in allowing me to enter and enjoy it.
- John Muir, A Thousand-Mile Walk to the Gulf

Though I wasn't near a mountain stream, I was hiking once more in a nearby favorite haunt - Indian Mounds State Park. It was nicely isolated as I could be alone with my thoughts as I traversed the rocky stream of the park amidst the weathering limestone cliffs that make up many of the parks of Greene County, Ohio.
Indian Mounds State Park is where the Williamson Indian burial mound is located. This is a burial site for the Adena culture which pre-dates the later Miami and Shawnee tribes which settled in the area.

The trails are relatively easy to hike, though like other Greene County parks that follow a gorge, the remnants of early glaciation, there are paths along the upper cliffs and trails which follow the stream bed. The latter are more difficult as there are many rocky outcroppings which make it more difficult to walk without taking care. The upper trails, though full of small rock outcrops and tree roots, are only moderate and I have actually seen a jogger once in a while along the upper trails, though how they keep from twisting an ankle, I do not know.

The park is rarely visited even during nice days such as my recent visit. With the hotter summer days, the flowers are fewer as the greenery of the nettle plants prevails. There were a few summer flowers in bloom usually nearly as tall as my chest that dotted the trail mostly of the upper paths. These Asters were seen near the beginning of the hiking trail.

Indian Mounds State Park begins with a long cleared road, then forks either toward the Adena burial mound, or across a wooden bridge along the cliff trail toward the Cedarcliff Falls. I first chose to visit the quiet splendor of the Williamson burial mound.

The Williamson Mound was built between 500 BC and 100 AD. The mound is about 30 feet in height and 140 feet in diameter. Since my last visit to the site, it seems the parks department has decided to let the open area in front of it go to prairie as it now has a mowed walk area toward the mound, but the rest of the ground is covered in high grasses.

Being alone with my thoughts as I moved along the lower trail, the summertime is a wonderful time to watch the water spiders swiftly move across the still water. I think I passed maybe one or two other people the several hours I spent there. The trail along the stream and below the cliffs runs about 1.5 miles culminating in the Cedarcliff Falls.

The falls appear to be natural though the rock face under the falling water is invisible. Traveling along the highway, one can stop and park near the falls and choose to just visit that area, or hike the trail in the opposite arrangement. A bridge at this end takes one across to the upper trails. About a quarter a mile down, you can choose to go down the steps of the the cliff to hike the stream trail. This is a nice diversion for a light hike and especially if you are one who likes to be away with only nature and your thoughts.