Named after one of the first surveyors to document its existence, Pinson Mounds State Archaeological Park encompasses 1,300 acres of land, with 15 Native American mounds, used for both burials and ceremonies. Since the 1970s, a series of trails have been carefully planned and wound throughout the spaces between each earthen mounds, connecting them all with a 6.3-mile hike through the complex. An on-site museum displays a replica built to resemble the typical Chickasaw mound and houses artifacts from weapons to clay pottery, offering a glimpse into the civilizations predating Tennessee’s modern history.
What Makes It Great
Pinson Mounds is one of only two state archaeological parks in the state, making it a rare experience to walk through its collection of earthen mounds and consider their significance. Its accessibility is a key factor in its ability to welcome curious visitors of all ages and levels of ability—two of its trails (1.3-mile Hudson Branch Trail and the two-mile Mounds Great Outer Loop Trail) are paved to ADA-compliant standards.
There is another paved trail, the 1.3-mile Mounds Inner Loop Trail, as well as two natural surface trails (one-mile Nature Trail and .7-mile Earthworks Trail) that are a little more difficult and have a moderate rating. The trails can be mixed and matched to meet the time constraints and level of activity desired by each visitor, or link them all up for a 6.3-mile trek. They trails wind through a trio of habitats, from a cypress swamp and beech-oak slopes to oak and hickory-covered hills.
Most importantly, the park’s dedication to preserving Native American lands and presenting educational opportunities about Native American life are what make it a must-see destination. Often hosting special events from lecture series to musical events featuring Native speakers and artists, the park offers both an archaeological and human perspective on those who called the area home long before the area’s 18th century settlers arrived.
Who is Going to Love It
A fantastic place for anyone with a thirst for knowledge about human history and culture, Pinson Mounds offers a fascinating look into important facets of America’s distant past. It also an interesting place to get in a decent hike on a variety of surfaces and environments.
Directions, Parking, & Regulations
From the park entrance on Ozier Road, go past the ranger station, group camp and first picnic shelter. Park in the lot alongside Picnic Shelter #2 and proceed to the museum to begin your walking tour of the park.