Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
Geographic Location: north side of
Length: 2.5 miles
Difficulty: 2/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: December 2012
Overview: A double loop hike through reverting farmland surrounding several ceremonial mounds.
Park Information: https://www.floridastateparks.org/park/Lake-Jackson
Google Map: http://www.mappedometer.com/?maproute=146600
Directions to the trailhead: In
Tallahassee, take I-10 to US 27 (exit 199). Exit and go north on US 27. Drive US 27 north 1.9 miles to Crowder Road and turn right on Crowder Rd.; there is a traffic light at this intersection. Drive Crowder Rd. 1 mile to Indian Mounds Road and turn right on Indian Mounds Rd. Indian Mounds Rd. deadends at the park. Park in the only parking lot.
The hike: Located in a modern residential area northwest of
Tallahassee, Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park preserves 4 earthen temple mounds that are part of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex. The mounds date to 1200-1500 A.D. when the village at this location was a political, cultural, and religious center for the region. Two of the larger mounds lie in plain view adjacent to the park’s picnic area today.
The park contains some more recent history as well. The remains of an old grist mill owned and operated by Colonel Robert Butler in the early to mid 1800’s are located in the southern end of the park. The park itself was formed in 1966.
The parking area has two trailheads, one on the north end and one on the south end. The two trail systems never intersect, so you have to hike one complete loop before walking across the parking lot to hike the other. The southern loop is more interesting because it contains the mill remains, so I recommend starting there and hiking the northern loop if time and energy allow.
|Earthen temple mound near picnic area|
|Interpretive Trail trailhead|
The interpretive trail continues through the woods and soon crosses the stream on a small footbridge. Across the bridge, the trail curves left and climbs slightly to begin walking atop what appears to be an old dike. A metal interpretive sign talks about steepheads, or small steep-walled ravines that feature a cool, wet micro-climate that differs from that of the surrounding forest. Several of these steepheads can be seen along the trail here.
The nature trail begins on the other (north) end of the parking area to the left of the park entrance road. This trailhead is marked by a brown park sign bearing a symbol of a person walking a dog. The trail parallels the park entrance road for less than 0.1 miles to arrive at an intersection. Unlike the interpretive trail to the south, the nature trail system offers many overlapping trails, so many routes are possible. To get away from the road, this description will turn left here and climb gradually.
|Topping the hill|
1.3 miles into the hike, a side trail exits right at the edge of a meadow. Angle softly left to continue the loop. The trail soon intersects a gas line right-of-way as it climbs gradually. At the top of the hill, a blue metal disc nailed to a wooden post directs you to turn right and exit the gas line clearing.
|Grassy Nature Trail through meadow|
The grassy trail climbs slightly to intersect another wide grassy trail, where you should turn left. The wide trail undulates slightly before, 2.1 miles into the hike, it ends at the entrance to a service area. This intersection marks the closing of the loop. A left turn, a gradual descent, and then a right turn on the trail paralleling the park road will return you to the parking area to complete the hike.