Sunday, May 16, 2010

Shawnee Lookout

On a recent fantastic Spring Saturday, I drove down to the extreme southwest area of Ohio where Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky meet. I stayed on the Ohio side and visited the Hamilton County Parks area known as Shawnee Lookout.

There are three hiking trails, none of which are difficult and in fact except for a few up and down ridge hills, are pretty much clear and in places have gravel to make this a family-oriented walking experience.
What is amazing about the park and what attracted me were some of the views you can get of where the Great Miami River meets the mighty Ohio. There is a lot of history in this area. It was the hunting grounds of the Shawnee Indians in the 18th century before it was invaded by the European settlers. Before that it was the living and burial areas of the early Hopewell cultures. There are a number of burial mounds that are somewhat obscured by overgrowth. The longest single trail is about 2 miles.

The history of the area is most fascinating. The area has been the site of a number of digs by the University of Cincinnati archeology department. The Lookout area was the largest continuously occupied hilltop settlement established by any Native American group. According to the digs, the Hopewell who occupied the area over 2000 years ago are seen to be a direct
link to the Shawnee who inhabited the area in the 18th century. One of the trails in the lookout take you to the ancient Miami Fort, thought to have been built by the Adena Hopewell possibly as a ceremonial site rather than a military one. As you walk around the lands of the fort, you can see remnants of the ancient walls. The location sits atop a hill over the area where the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers meet.

Just down the hillside on land that is now where the Duke Energy power plant exists was the location of Fort Finney. This Fort's importance was the location of a meeting between the Shawnee and the new American government in 1786. A treaty was reluctantly agreed to by the Shawnee over their homelands after they indicated they were going to war against the Americans over the land which had been promised previously was Shawnee territory. However, under threat of superior military power, the Shawnee were forced to agree to be subverted within the American land. The tribe found it had no authority over its own lands.

The vistas from the various trails are spectacular. Off one trail, you can see the floodplain formed by the Great Miami where it meets the Ohio.
The area is home to over 80 species of fish, 500 species of moths and butterflies as well as multiple birds.

The three trails are all easily accomplished within a day. The park also has other features for families including the log cabin of Micajah Duncan built out of split Oak logs for his home in Elizabethtown, Ohio nearby. The cabin was moved here for preservation.

The Shawnee Lookout Park is worth a look especially if you want to walk the trails among history.


  1. The Hopewell sites are pretty amazing, we've been to several here in Indiana and in Ohio but most are the focal points of well developed parks now. That has to be, I suppose, everything else got bulldozed away or plowed. Angel Mounds in southern Indiana is a good example, the mounds that weren't included in the park were actually scraped away and used for fill dirt in highway construction. We've been to Serpent Mound in Ohio, but I'd never heard of the Shawnee Lookout and it's history. History's everywhere, we just buried most of it.

  2. Thanks for the comments. I know in Shawnee Lookout I found they had marked a number of burial mounds, but they are not very accessible due to being sort of buried in the wooded surroundings. I kind of liked that which meant to me that though archaeologically accessed, they haven't been removed from their natural surroundings and made, as you say, "focal points."

  3. I used to hike these trails when I lived in the Cinci area. Thanks for the wonderful pictures. They bring back memories of my youth!

  4. Hi Jim,

    I couldn't find a way to send you a PM so I thought I'd try it here. I'm interested in any information that you may have regarding the Miami Fort and the recent excavations of Shaunee Lookout.

    Any contact information with UC's archeological society would be greatly appreciated. I am interested in the ancient history of this site and how it relates to others in this area. You may email me at Thanks