Fort Hill Trails

Ohio Birding Day Hikes

Fort Hill Trails
The trails through Fort Hill are a section of the Buckeye Trail. A total of eleven miles of hiking trails exist at Fort Hill, offering some of the best hiking in the entire state of Ohio. Because of the relatively long length of the preserve’s three trails, they are best suited for hiking enthusiasts. Hikers, please note backcountry trail conditions. It is wise to dedicate approximately one hour per mile in order to leisurely and safely enjoy Fort Hill’s backcountry trails. The trails are generally primitive in nature, being narrow, uneven, and traversing rolling hills that can sometimes approach steep. After a rain or in the spring after winter snowmelt, the paths can be muddy, so please be prepared with proper footgear. Before coming in the fall/winter, sure to check dates the hiking trails are closed for the deer management hunt. Fort Hill is a protected natural area. Regulations require that hikers remain on the trails. Harvesting or disturbing plant and animal life are not permitted. Fishing is not permitted. Dogs are allowed but must be kept on a leash at all times.

For a short hike, take the 2.2-mile Fort Trail through the central area of the the earthworks.

The Buckeye Trail Association website outlines a 6-mile hike using the Fort, Deer, and Gorge trails, with options to lengthen or shorten the hike.

The TrekOhio website has a 5.5-mile hike which includes going through the Keyhole Arch to Canby’s Trail.

About Fort Hill Earthworks and Nature Preserve
Park & Hiking Trails: Open daily, dawn-dusk. Museum: Open Saturdays, May-October, 12-5pm. Free of Charge. There are no parking fees or entrance fees to visit Fort Hill or the Museum. Donations to the non-profit Arc of Appalachia Preserve System help keep Fort Hill open to the public without admission fees.

The major earthwork at Fort Hill is an ancient earthen-walled enclosure constructed on top of a large flat-topped ridge. The earthen-stone wall has a circumference over one and a half miles, its span interrupted with at 36 definite constructed openings, and three more possible constructed openings. The wall itself ranges from 6 to 15 feet in height, averages 30 feet wide at its base, and encloses 35.3 acres. It was built to follow the natural contour of the rim of the hill and is bordered on the inside wall by a substantial ditch. The total length of the embankment has been surveyed at 8,619 feet.

Fort Hill boasts a stunning natural area of 1300 acres, sheltering one of the largest and oldest contiguous forests in all of Ohio. It is estimated that the park preserves over 800 vascular species of plants within its boundaries, an outstanding remnant of the temperate deciduous forest that once covered nearly all of the eastern United States, and in earlier times, sheltered as many as 100,000 species of plants and animals. In 2015 Fort Hill was officially inducted as part of the Old Growth Forest Network.
From Fort Hill (Arc of Appalachia) webpage

Fort Hill is a nature preserve containing one of the best preserved prehistoric hilltop enclosure in North America. The Hopewell Indians (100 B.C.-A.D. 500) constructed the 1.5-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 1200 acre preserve, as well as a picnic area and latrines. The museum houses exhibits on the geology and archaeology of the area.

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 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-wall Hopewell hilltop enclosure at the top of Fort Hill, with a circumference of 1.5 miles, with 33 gateways and a large ditch on the inside of the fort. A similar fort-style enclosure can be found at Fort Ancient, 50 miles away. Fort Hill’s hilltop earthworks are accessible only by hiking to the top, with two trails terminating at the enclosure.

For archaeology enthusiasts, the well-preserved hilltop enclosure at Fort Hill is spectacular. But Fort Hill also has second Hopewell earthwork. Circle Earthwork, in a field on the south side of the park, can be hard to see. A mown trail leads to the earthwork from and it is accessible from the Buckeye Trail.
From Fort Hill (Ohio History Connection) webpage

Restrooms on site.