Lake Jackson Mounds Archaeological State Park
The Lake Jackson Mounds State Park contains two earthen mounds available for public viewing. Once part of the Southeastern Ceremonial Complex which was the largest ceremonial center of the Fort Walton Native American culture, the mounds surrounded a large population center that served as the capital. Originally the complex contained seven mounds, a large plaza, and multiple residences and was built and occupied in stages from 1000 – 1500AD. The largest remaining mound is Mound 2, which measures 36 feet high and 272 x 372 feet at its base.
Though I did not spend much time learning about the Fort Walton Culture this visit, it should be noted that this was a highly organized society, with trade extending throughout the southeastern region of the United States. In addition, the mounds themselves were highly engineered structures, with each layer of earth capped in clay for stability. Some of the remaining mounds reveal postholes indicative of palisades or structures on the top.
The state park also includes a few miles of level trails that were quite pleasant to walk in the bright sun.