Saturday, June 29, 2013

Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park (Blog Hike #411)

Trail: Weeden Trail
Hike Location: Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park
Geographic Location: east of TallahasseeFL
Length: 0.7 miles
Difficulty: 0/10 (Easy)
Last Hiked: December 2012
Overview: A flat nature trail touring several small Indian mounds.

Directions to the trailhead: East of Tallahassee, take I-10 to SR 57 (exit 203).  Exit and go north on SR 57.  Take SR 57 north to US 90 and turn right on US 90.  Drive US 90 1.2 miles to the signed entrance road for Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park on the right.  Turn right, drive down the entrance road, and park at the paved parking lot at the end of the road.

The hike: Located in a rural area east of TallahasseeLetchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park protects one of the tallest great temple mounds constructed by a people we know today as the Weeden Island people.  The Weeden Island people are linked together by a common type of pottery first unearthed on Weeden Island in Pinellas CountyFL.  The mounds at Letchworth-Love were constructed between 200 and 800 A.D., several hundred years before some of the other mounds located in this area.
            Established only in 1998, the small state park protects not only the temple mound but also several other smaller nearby mounds constructed by the Weeden Island people.  The park has no facilities except a restroom building, a small picnic area, and the single short nature trail described here.  The nature trail is quite new, as evidenced by the soft lightly-trampled ground that serves as the trail surface.  The trail was built in October 2011 by David Messler as an Eagle project, and it provides a nice walk past some of the smaller mounds east of the temple mound.
            Begin by walking the concrete path that heads southeast through the grassy picnic area.  The trail passes a small mound and a picnic shelter with some interpretive signs before arriving at the 50-foot great temple mound.  This land was farmed extensively after the mound was built.  The plow has taken its toll, but some of the mound’s detailed features are still distinguishable.  An interpretive sign at a wooden overlook platform helps you find the main features.
Great Temple Mound
            After viewing the mound, walk down some steps to the trailhead for the Weeden Trail, a small black plaque on a wooden post.  The trail heads into the pine woods, which has a dense understory of grass, meadow plants, and bushes.  The trail can be hard to see on the ground at a few points, but blue paint blazes on some trees keep you on the path.  Cleverly designed blue arrows also point the way.
Blue arrows on the Weeden Trail
            At 0.3 miles, the trail passes a small mound identified by another black plaque on wooden post.  Due to damage sustained from the plow, this mound would be hardly discernible from the surrounding landscape were it not for the sign.  Past the mound, the trail curves more left than right as it meanders through the woods east of the temple mound.  More smaller mounds are passed; there are a total of 20-28 mounds in this park.  Too soon the trail comes out at the east edge of the grassy picnic area, thus signaling the end of the hike.
Smaller Indian mounds

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