Spruce Hill Earthworks

Black and white map of Spruce Hill in 1846
A drawing of Spruce Hill Earthworks taken from Ancient Monuments of the Mississippi Valley, c.1846.  Click this image for a larger version of the original Squier and Davis plate.

Squier & Davis

Prehistoric History

Spruce Hill is a small sliver of Ohio's geologic library, rich with a beautiful biodiversity, and laden with evidence of the prehistoric Hopewell culture. Even the trail that leads up to the storied plateau area contains geologic "windows" that allow us to see back in time. The sediment-washed trail has countless exposed layers of shale which date to almost 400 million years ago. Rippled sandstone, which dots the trail, is direct evidence that the area was once under the cover of a sprawling ancient sea. The lush woodland hillsides nurture rare and exotic flora and lively fauna of all shapes and sizes.

Mystery and Awe

Built primarily of stone, a low perimeter walls encloses the 140-acre plateau of the mesa-like ridge top. At intervals along the walls is evidence of mysterious burning that produced heat higher than an open fire can generate. Spruce Hill proper is a prominent feature in the Paint Creek Valley, once affording grand vistas of the surrounding floodplain below that included the geometric ceremonial complexes of nearby Baum Earthworks and Seip Earthworks.

What To Do

Spruce Hill Earthworks is not open to the public for daily visitation. Be sure to read the Ranger Recommendations on hiking the site when you are fortunate enough to visit. Ocassionally, the park co-hosts a guided hike with a ranger. Please check the park Calendar to see when the next hike is offered or you can Contact Us.

Present and Future

Read the 1998 Spruce Hill Summary Report that explored the feasibility of adding the site to the park. Spruce Hill Earthworks is owned by park partner, the Arc of Appalachia. Hopewell Culture NHP co-manages and provides interpretation of the site, together with the Arc of Appalachia.

A colorful field of spring flowers in full bloom
A sea of Goldenrod covers the plateau of Spruce Hill Earthworks in the spring.

NPS Photo / Tom Engberg

A rocky trail surrounded by trees
Exposed shale on the right side of the trail leading up to the plateau of Spruce Hill Earthworks.

NPS Photo / Tom Engberg

Last updated: July 28, 2020

Contact the Park

Mailing Address:

16062 State Route 104
Chillicothe, OH 45601


(740) 774-1126

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