West Tennessee Day Trip
In this series, we will cover exciting events and trips you can take advantage of, all in a day’s trip. There are so many hidden gems to discover!
Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park
460 Ozier Road Pinson, TN 38366
Pinson Mounds State Archeological Park is located between Jackson and Henderson, right in Madison County. There are 1200 acres to explore and many prehistoric Native American mounds, used for ceremonies and burial. The mounds were built by bringing baskets of soil around 1-500 AD. In addition to the visible mounds, there is also an interesting museum!
This was a great day trip! The drive from northern Fayette County took a little over an hour. We couldn’t have picked a better day to spend outside. The weather was a cool 75 degrees and there was a constant breeze. Wear comfortable clothing and appropriate shoes because you will be walking! I recommend that you pack a cooler with lunch and lots of water. There aren’t too many places to eat if you’re looking for a full-service restaurant, but there are a few little cafes and gas stations with hot food.
I am a transplant from Nebraska, so just the drive was breathtaking for me. There’s something so beautiful about driving down a highway, dipping up and down, passing trees. To me, that is magic. I grew up where there were trees, but never any woods or forests. And to me, just the woods here seem like a forest!
The State Park is easy to miss if you aren’t paying attention to signs. You pull into the park and you’re suddenly on a one-way road that takes you right to the picnic area and the museum. It was a little confusing at first because the front of the museum is under construction. I was told that they are making things more ADA accessible, which is awesome! I am not sure on all the details, but make sure you check out the Park’s social media or give them a call about more information regarding that project.
The museum introduced you to the history (as far as we know) of the mounds and how they came to be. It is so awesome to think back to how people lived so long ago. I have been to the Cahokia Mound in Illinois, but there was no museum and it seemed to be one big mound. Most people seemed to use the spot for exercise. The big one at Pinson is a little more winding, but we’ll get to that.
The museum itself is modeled after a mound!
There is a movie you can watch which explains the history of the site, but you can also ask any park ranger or employee at the gift shop for information. Everyone is very knowledgeable and kind, excited to share information about Pinson Mounds.
No one knows exactly what the point of the Mounds were. We can only take educated guesses, based upon excavation and science. On some of the mounds, certain colored sands and minerals were found from across the region, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf! It almost seemed like different groups or tribes came to the mounds for ceremonies or burials and left behind remnants from across the country.
Minerals found from various places
There are a few different trails you can take around the park. We didn’t have time to see everything and only took advantage of the inner loop. It is a good paved path, suitable for strollers, walkers, and wheelchairs. My favorite thing along the paved path was watching the dragonflies land and flutter around in front of us. The breeze was perfect, blowing the grasses to the side.
We made the choice to head to the Eastern Citadel, which is an earthwork, basically a large bank of soil, almost like a small, low wall. This was hard for me to picture how it was back when it was built, but still an interesting view. The trail itself is about .45 miles, a little winding, but a nice adventure. Make sure you grab a map from the Museum, because you can easily miss out on trails that take you to certain mounds.
After passing the Eastern Citadel portion, we came to a fork in the trail!
With advice from the museum employee, we made the trek further down to catch the Boardwalk Loop. This was amazing. There was hardly anyone else there, so it was peaceful and serene. I stood still enough to catch two different lizards with my camera! Yes, this is common everywhere, but like I mentioned before, I come from the land of no lizards. They were cute!
The Duck's Nest is a very notable mound! It got its name from its shape of course! The Boardwalk took you to the swamp!
My favorite part was the trail! You had to climb up and down. Part of me really felt like I was back in time, going through the woods.
Remember that I mentioned Cahokia? That is the largest man-made mound in North America, but Saul's Mound at Pinson is second largest!
View from the top! You can see the paved paths and the museum.
Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park is a great day trip for the family! Remember to pack lunch, sunscreen, and lots of water. Enjoy the quiet peace with the wind blowing your hair back on top of Saul's Mound. You're over 70 ft high!
For More Information...
Park Office / Museum
460 Ozier Road Pinson, TN 38366 731-988-5614
Summer Hours March 16th - Oct. 31st Daily 7am to 7pm
Winter Hours Nov. 1st - March 15th Daily 7am to 5pm Museum and office are closed on all state and federal holidays, Nov. – April
Click here to visit the official website!