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Fort Hill Earthworks & Nature Preserve

One of the best-preserved prehistoric hilltop enclosures in North America
  • Address
    • Fort Hill Earthworks & Nature Preserve
    • 13614 Fort Hill Rd.
    • Hillsboro, OH 45133
    • Open in Google Maps
    Contact Information
  • Hours & more

    Park(Mon-Sun): All daylight hours

    Museum (May–Oct) Sat & Sun: 10 a.m.–5 p.m.
    Labor Day 10 a.m.–5 p.m.

    The hiking trails at Fort Hill State Memorial are closed for certain dates during the deer-hunting season in November through January each year. Please contact the site manager for additional information.

  • Historical Topics
    • American Indian History
    • Historic Preservation
    • Archaeology
    • Natural History
    Regions
    • Southwest Ohio
    Audiences
    • All Audiences

Visit

Fort Hill has what many call the best hiking trails in the state. Its fully mature forests harbor many rare or endangered wildflowers, hundreds of species of mushrooms and a high number of tree species. Birders will likely be able to check off several hard-to-find species.

You can hike to a stone and earthen-walled Hopewell hilltop enclosure at the top of Fort Hill. With a circumference of 1 ½ miles, it has 33 gateways and, on the inside, a large ditch. (You'll find a similar fort-style enclosure 50 miles away at Fort Ancient [link to Fort Ancient site page].) Fort Hill’s hilltop earthworks are accessible only by hiking to the top. Two trails terminate at the enclosure.

For archaeology enthusiasts, the well-preserved hilltop enclosure at Fort Hill is spectacular. But Fort Hill also has a second Hopewell earthwork: Circle Earthwork, in a field on the south side of the park, can be hard to see. A mown trail accessible from the Buckeye Trail leads to the Circle Earthwork. Average visit time: Allow 2+ hours


History

Fort Hill is one of the best-preserved examples of an ancient hilltop enclosure. Fort Hill was built by American Indians of the Hopewell Culture, who lived in Ohio approximately 2,000 years ago. Despite the name, Fort Hill was not an actual fort used for warfare, but more likely a ceremonial gathering place. Fort Hill is also a nature preserve, and the 1,200 acres are home to one of southern Ohio’s largest mature forests, with many towering old trees.

People of the ancient Hopewell culture (100 B.C.–A.D. 500) built the 1 ½ mile-long earthwork, as well as at least two ceremonial buildings and probably a village in the Brush Creek Valley. Lying at the western edge of the Allegheny Plateau, immediately south of the glacial boundary, this hilly area contains an impressive diversity of bedrock, soils, flora and fauna. There are 11 miles of hiking trails at the preserve, as well as a picnic area and latrines. A museum houses exhibits on the geology and archaeology of the area.

Learn more about Fort Hill at Ohio History Central, our online encyclopedia of Ohio history.

Learn more about the Fort Hill collection on Ohio Memory.

Fort Hill is managed locally by the Arc of Appalachia Preserve System.