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Ohio State Parks

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USA Parks
Central Ohio Region
Great Circle Earthworks
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Great Circle Earthworks Great Circle Opening © Ryan Comisford
Great Circle Earthworks Great Circle Visitors Center © Ryan Comisford
Great Circle Earthworks Great Circle Bridge © Ryan Comisford
Great Circle Earthworks Inside the park © Ryan Comisford
Great Circle Earthworks Great Circle © Ryan Comisford
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455 Hebron Rd
Heath, Ohio   43056
(lat:40.0406 lon:-82.4286) map location

Phone: (740) 344-0498
The Great Circle Earthworks, formerly known as Moundbuilders State Memorial, was built by the Hopewell culture approximately 2000 years ago. The circle is nearly 1200 feet in diameter and was used as a vast ceremonial center by its builders.

The Great Circle is one part of the Newark Earthworks State Memorial, the largest system of connected geometric earthworks built anywhere in the world. Octagon Earthworks and Wright Earthworks are both additional local sites that preserve other features of this majestic remnant of prehistoric Ohio.
History of the Area
The Great Circle Earthworks, also known as the "Marietta Earthworks," is a complex of ancient Native American earthworks located in present-day Newark, Ohio. It is one of the largest and most intricate geometric earthworks in the world.

The construction of the Great Circle Earthworks began around 100 BCE and continued into the 1st century CE by the Hopewell culture, a prehistoric Native American civilization that inhabited the region during the Middle Woodland Period. The earthworks were part of a vast ceremonial complex spread across the Ohio River Valley region.

The Great Circle Earthworks cover an area of about 50 acres and consist of a circular enclosure, an earthen embankment, and a large ditch. The circular enclosure is approximately 1,200 feet in diameter and is connected to another smaller enclosure known as the "Octagon Earthworks" through a series of parallel walls and earthen causeways. These structures were all carefully aligned with astronomical alignments and aligned with the rising and setting of celestial bodies.

It is believed that the Great Circle Earthworks had various purposes, including ceremonial, social, and astronomical/cosmological significance. The complex likely served as a venue for large-scale rituals, astronomical observations, and gatherings of different indigenous groups. The exact rituals and cultural practices conducted within the earthworks remain a mystery, but archaeological evidence suggests that the Hopewell people were highly skilled in craftsmanship, trade, and social organization.

The Great Circle Earthworks were likely abandoned by the Hopewell culture by the 5th century CE. However, the site continued to be occupied by other Native American groups over the centuries, including the Fort Ancient culture and later tribes such as the Shawnee and Delaware.

In the 19th century, European settlers recognized the significance of the earthworks and began to study them. Notable figures, such as Ephraim George Squier and Edwin Hamilton Davis, conducted early surveys and excavations, helping to bring attention to the cultural significance of the site.

The Great Circle Earthworks are part of the Hopewell Culture National Historical Park and are listed as a National Historic Landmark and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The site attracts visitors interested in Native American history, archaeology, and astronomy, offering insights into the ancient cultures that once thrived in the Ohio River Valley.
Ohio does not have an annual pass and does not charge entrance fees to state parks.

1. Picnic at the Park: Great Circle Earthworks has a beautiful park area where visitors can spread out their picnic blankets and enjoy an outdoor meal surrounded by nature.

2. Riverside Picnics: The Licking River runs near the earthworks, providing a serene spot for picnickers to set up camp and relax with some food while enjoying views of the water.

3. Shelter House Area: There is also a shelter house available in case you prefer your picnic under cover or need protection from unexpected weather changes during your visit.

4. Grassy Fields: Spread across 120 acres, there are plenty of grassy fields within this historical site that make perfect spots for laying down your blanket and having lunch amidst greenery all around you.

5. Near Observation Deck: You could choose to have your picnic close to one of these decks so as not only do they provide seating but also offer panoramic views over Newark's ancient mounds which would be quite unique!

6. Picnic Tables Areas: For those who don't want to sit on ground,there are several areas throughout Great Circle Earthwork grounds equipped with tables & benches making it convenient place for family outings.

7. Bird Watching Spots: If you're into bird watching then pick any quiet corner inside this vast archaeological complex . With more than hundred species recorded here,you'll surely get company while eating !

8. Near Museum: After exploring museum artifacts why not refuel yourself right outside its premises? It's easy access plus saves time too!

9. Woodland Trails: Pack light snacks /refreshments before heading onto woodland trails surrounding main circle mound.Its peaceful environment will definitely enhance overall dining experience.

10. Sunset View Point: End day perfectly by planning evening snack session at sunset view point located towards west side.This way besides relishing meals,you'll witness mesmerizing sunsets turning sky into shades orange,pink & purple !
1. The Great Circle Trail: A 1-mile loop that encircles the entire earthwork, offering panoramic views of ancient Native American architecture and lush greenery.

2. Eagle Mound Pathway: This trail leads to a small mound shaped like an eagle in flight, providing hikers with insights into the spiritual beliefs of Hopewell culture.

3. Observatory Circle Track: An intriguing path leading towards this smaller circle believed to be used for astronomical observations by early inhabitants; offers glimpses of celestial alignments during certain times of year.

4. Octagon State Memorial Route: Hiking along this route reveals eight monumental gateways and walls stretching over half a mile long - remnants from Ohio's prehistoric past.

5. Fairgrounds Loop Trail: Winding through dense woods adjacent to Newark Earthworks site, it provides serene solitude away from main attractions while still being steeped in history.

6. The River Walkway: Follows Raccoon Creek as it meanders around perimeter mounds giving stunning water vistas coupled with rich biodiversity including bird species such as red-tailed hawk or blue herons.

7. Museum Connector Path: Links visitors center/museum directly to heartland trails allowing easy access between historical exhibits & outdoor exploration.

8. Serpent Mound Passage: Named after iconic Serpent effigy nearby,this pathway is perfect blend showcasing both natural beauty & archaeological wonders.

9. Wildflower Way: Best visited during spring when wildflowers bloom across landscape creating vibrant tapestry against backdrop historic earthen structures.

10. Hopewell Culture National Historical Park Trails: Network paths connecting various sites within park each revealing different aspects about life,culture,beliefs practices these mysterious people who left behind extraordinary legacy.

Visitor Comments, Memories and Reviews
October 17 by Jan T
park review stars; one to five My family lived on N. WIlliams St, not far from this park. We used to have family reunions and picnics there. I remember walking around the top of the mounds, recognizing the serenity of the mounds, if not the historic importance. I can even remember rolling down a mound or two with my brothers and cousins.
June 16 Great for the imagination by harry
park review stars; one to five My grandmother lived just two houses up Williams Street from the park in the middle of the last century. My brother and I, our cousins, our friends, all loved going to the mounds and imagining what it was like centuries before, hiking around the mounds, visiting the circle center. Although its history has changed since then, it still could be a great place for children with imaginations about pioneer days and earlier.
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1. Start by heading east on Interstate 70.
2. Take exit 129 for State Route 79 toward Buckeye Lake/Heath.
3. Merge onto OH-79 N and continue for about 7 miles.
4. Take the exit toward OH-79 Bus N/Newark/Granville.
5. Merge onto OH-79 BUS N/Heath Rd.
6. Continue straight onto N 21st St.
7. Continue onto Granville Rd.
8. Turn left onto Outville Rd.
9. Continue onto Hornets Nest Rd SW.
10. At the roundabout, take the first exit onto OH-16 W/South 2nd St.
11. Continue to follow OH-16 W.
12. Turn left onto Riverside Dr.
13. Continue onto W Main St.
14. The Great Circle Earthworks will be on your left.

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Ohio State Parks