By Cristi McKee | Photo: Cristi McKee
When sitting atop the platform that overlooks Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park, it is difficult to picture a time that this land encompassed a vivid southeastern socio-religious complex instead of a quiet, peaceful green expanse.
Once, in approximately, 1200 A.D. to 1500 A.D., this state park was the home of Lake Jackson Indians. Most likely the ‘Southeastern Ceremonial Complex,’ or the political/religious complex of these Native Americans, the park now serves as a preservation setting for 6 out of 7 earthen temple mounds. However, only 2 of these mounds are available for public viewing. These mounds may not look like much, but tribal leaders or “royalty,” and important cultural items and ancient Native American tools are buried there.
The park features a small, interpretive pavilion that teaches park-goers more about the history and culture of Lake Jackson Indians. Picnic tables are located under the pavilion for a spot to eat, relax, and learn about the history of the park. A small bridge arches over a fast-moving creek, and flights of stairs lead up to the main platform that allows park-goers to oversee much of the entire park.
In terms of hiking, there is a .75 mile interpretive trail that leads hikers past an early 1800s Grist mill in Butler Mill Creek, which belonged to Colonial Robert Butler (the first land Surveyor General of Florida). Additionally, there is a 2.2 mile trail one can hike if a bit more experienced with rougher terrain.
Wildlife viewing and birdwatching is also common at Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park. Birds, deer, and even foxes can be seen depending on the time of day. The park is overall a very serene and quiet expanse, with shady areas to sit in and observe the flora and fauna. More information, including directions and park hours, can be found here.