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Hubby and I recently visited the Etowah Indian Mounds State Historic site in Cartersville, Georgia. The Etowah Indian Mounds site consists of 54 acres that include historic mounds and a defensive ditch.
History of Etowah Indian Mounds
The Etowah Indian Mounds is the largest Native American settlement in the Etowah Valley. The knolls were used from around 900-1550 A.D. as a platform dwelling to the chief/priest, an elite mortuary ground, and temple areas.
The site was visited by Spanish explorer Hernando De Soto and in a very short time, the town’s population decreased due to European diseases like smallpox and measles.
The Etowah fled and survivors joined nearby groups and became known as the Creeks. Eventually the lad was passed out via the Georgia Land Lottery. In 1964, the site became recognized as a Registered National Historic Landmark.
The Historic Site Trail
The trail begins inside a nicely air-conditioned museum. (We saved the museum for last). Outside we followed a walking trail that allowed us to walk up to all three different Indian Mounds. The first Mound was crazy tall.
It is a 63-foot (about 6 stories high) knoll that was likely used as a platform for the home of the priest-chief.
This mound housed the Etowah chief and his family. The chief presided over ceremonies that took place in the plaza below. The view is magnificent. At the top, you can see the outline of the entire site.
Next was Mound #2. Mound #2 was also a temple platform. The second mound is where nobility was probably buried in elaborate costumes accompanied by items they would need in their after-lives. Most likely a lesser chief or priest lived on top of this mound. This mound is not fully excavated however remnants of a large building, possibly belonging to a council house, was found.
Mound #3 was a burial mound. This mound was completely excavated and reconstructed. Approximately 350 burials were unearthed. This mound was built in layers and most of the artifacts found in the Etowah Historic Indian Museum were found in this mound.
Etowah River Walk
There is a nature trail that begins near the river and follows the river downstream for a few hundred feet. If you follow the trail, you will walk past the defensive ditch, and end up back at the museum. While walking, expect to see plenty of trees such as walnut, birch, hickory, and oak. We also saw the cutest baby deer.
There are also a few plants such as privet, honeysuckle, paper mulberry, and mimosa.
Everything was so peaceful and serene. Word of advice: make sure you wear sunscreen and use plenty of bug spray!
Etowah Indian Museum
The museum inside may be the best part of the visit. There are a ton of cool artifacts and replicas. Inside the museum, we viewed native artifacts and replicas of headdresses, jewelry, pots, and weapons. After walking through the museum, you can catch a short film about Etowah history. There was so much to learn about.
The Etowah Indian Mounds are located at 813 Indian Mound Rd. SE, Cartersville, GA. The perimeter trail is 1 1/8 miles and the river walk nature trail is 5/8 mile. Leashed dogs are allowed on the outside grounds.
You can find out more information about the Etowah Indian Mounds at the Georgia State Parks website.
Here are a few of the items I recommend if you plan to visit:
- Women’s Hiking Shoes or Men’s Hiking Shoes
- Camel Water Bottle
- If you plan on taking your dog, this hiking pack is awesome
- Fitbit Activity Tracker – I logged over 10,000 steps at the Trail
Want to check out some of our other travels? We recently visited cool places in Helen, Georgia.
All photos © Mike Mason 2019