Hike the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, GA, exploring the park’s ancient Native American mounds and a wildlife-filled wetland.

georgia hiking trails: 2-4 miles 3.2 miles
(round trip)
? Your mileage may vary! Accuracy of your GPS device, weather conditions, and stops along your route will affect your own recorded distance.
georgia hiking trails: easyeasy to
moderate
?Our difficulty estimate, based on distance, terrain, elevation change, & ease of wayfinding. May vary daily due to weather, trail reroutes, downed trees, etc.
georgia hiking trails: dog-friendly Dog-
friendly
?Leashed dogs are allowed on this trail. We’ve loved hiking this route with our trail-loving Labrador Retrievers! Check out more of our favorite dog-friendly trails in Georgia for a great hike with your pup.

LOCATION:near Macon, Georgia

GEAR: Osprey Stratos 24 Backpack, our hiking gear list and Canon 6D Camera

WEAR: Our ultra-soft Atlanta Trails shirts and mountain logo hats

A trail network explores giant Native American mounds that rise from the banks of the Ocmulgee River near Macon, Georgia. The Indian mounds at the Ocmulgee National Monument are a remnant of the ancient, yet advanced, communities that thrived here for thousands of years. Originally inhabited by ancient Paleo-Indians, the land was later home to the mound-building Mississippian Culture. The park is an important historical and archeological site: Native Americans have inhabited these lands for 17,000 years.

Today, this 700-acre park, managed by the National Park Service, offers an excellent, educational outdoor adventure near modern-day Macon. The park’s network of trails explores many ancient, grassy Indian mounds, a wildlife-filled wetland on the banks of the Ocmulgee River, and a fern-filled forest. Near the park’s museum and visitor center, one trail ducks into the Earth Lodge, a domed ceremonial mound with a floor that’s over 1,000 years old.

Ocmulgee National Monument: hike to Native American mounds in Macon, GA

This 3.25-mile loop explores the highlights of the Ocmulgee National Monument park. The hike follows the Bartram Trail, meandering through a marshy habitat frequented by wildlife. Then the hike loops into the park’s historic areas, climbing to great views from the top of the Great Temple Mound, visiting the grassy Funeral Mound, and exploring deep trenches at the Cornfield Mound. And then, for a finale, the hike enters the park’s earthen-domed Earth Lodge to view the ceremonial mound’s interior. It’s a fantastic hike filled with natural beauty, a huge dose of Georgia history, and great opportunities to spot wildlife.

Hike the Ocmulgee National Monument in Macon, GA, exploring the park's ancient Native American mounds and a wildlife-filled wetland. #hiking #running #trailrunning #atlanta #georgia #travel #outdoors #adventure

Ocmulgee National Monument: the hike

This loop hike begins at the Bartram Trail trailhead at the southeast corner of the park’s visitor center parking area (view maps and driving directions). The hike descends, meandering through a beautiful, fern-filled, sunlight-dappled forest. The route follows the Bartram Trail, named after William Bartram, a writer and naturalist who explored the Southeast in the late 1700s and visited the park’s mounds on his journey.

The Bartram Trail exits the forest canopy at .25 miles, following the park’s road under a historic brick train overpass. The trail follows the road for a short distance before diving back into the forest, looping to visit the Southeast Mound, one of the smallest in the park. The hike crosses the park’s paved road and then veers left on the Loop Trail, exploring the grassy banks of Walnut Creek, an Ocmulgee River tributary.

Ocmulgee National Monument: hike through wildlife-filled wetlands and the reflections of the park's towering Native American mounds

The hike exits the Loop Trail, crossing two bridges and beginning the Opelofa Trail. Bordered by a wetland on both sides of the trail, the hike crosses an arched bridge, exploring the beautiful, grassy marsh.

The Great Temple Mound towers in the near distance, reflecting in the glassy, still waters of the wetlands. Wildlife frequents the marsh habitat; pause here quietly for a chance to view otter, egret, dragonfly, deer, turtles, beavers and the occasional alligator in the water-filled wetlands.

At 1.3 miles, the trail reaches the park’s River Trail, turning south to follow the River Trail’s extended boardwalk for an up-close view of the wetlands and Walnut Creek.

Reaching the end of the boardwalk, this hike doubles back on the River Trail, and veers left at the boardwalk’s end. The trail climbs the Great Temple Mound via a series of wood stairs and platforms, rising high above the surrounding river plain. The mound’s flat-topped summit is spacious, level and grassy, offering stunning panoramic views of downtown Macon, the Walnut Creek wetlands, and the surrounding grassy mounds.

Ocmulgee National Monument

The hike descends the Great Temple Mound, following a boardwalk and paved trail northbound, and crossing a park road before reaching the former site of a historic trading post. The hike veers left at the trading post location, crossing a bridge to explore the wildflower-covered Funeral Mound.

The route doubles back from the Funeral Mound and reaching the trading post site at 1.75 miles. The hike veers left to cross a bridge over train tracks before following a paved trail through a grassy meadow. Nearby, archaeologists found the oldest artifact at Ocmulgee National Monument: a projectile point in a fire pit that was carbon dated to 8,000 B.C.E.

Nearing the hike’s end, the trail explores the park’s Cornfield Mound and prehistoric trenches before doubling back to the Earth Lodge. A side trail dives between the stout posts of the earth lodge entrance to catch a view inside the dimly-lit ceremonial lodge. Ducking back out of the Earth Lodge, the trail hikes northeast, reaching the park’s visitor center and museum and completing the adventure.


Ocmulgee National Monument Map, Directions & Details

This map is not a substitute for official trail maps or topographic maps.

Driving Directions



Parking

This National Park Service monument park offers free parking and admission.


GPS Coordinates

32.841983, -83.602250     //     N32 50.519 W83 36.135

Elevation Profile

 
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Eric Champlin
Author

Eric Champlin is a writer and photographer who loves to hike, run, backpack, kayak and cycle the southeast. He’s the editor and founder of Atlanta Trails, Asheville Trails, and Trailful, digital magazines that highlight the South’s best outdoor adventures and top Southern-worthy outdoor gear. His mission? To inspire others to get fit outdoors and explore the South’s incredible scenic beauty.