After I spent the weekend palling around with archeologists looking at the Newark Earthworks, during A Mound Walk, and after having Jeff Gill (the Docent of the Day) mention and point out Salisbury Hill (his name for it), I got to wondering if it was accessible to the general public.
So I went into my usual anal-compulsive research mode, and ended up exploring it on Tuesday.
OK, first thing you have to do is have this youtube video playing in the background as you read the rest of this entry.
It’s simply required. (Yes, I know it’s a different hill with a different spelling.) So do it.
As you may be aware, I’ve mapped a lot of hiking places in south central Ohio. Most of them are on my website, here. This blog entry, while describing my hike, will also give you a bit of a feel for how I go about preparing for such mapping.
First I looked online to see if I could find who owned the property. It turned out that it was owned by the city of Heath, so it was almost assuredly public property. I also needed access, since it butts up against the Licking River, and is otherwise bounded by fancy subdivisions that probably would not appreciate folks wandering through. (I did see that there is locked-gate access through one of the subdivisions. However, my mapping suggested the easiest way in was just to wade the Licking River.)
Google Maps (satellite view) also showed me that there was a parking lot just across the road from Heath High School, so that looked like a decent place to start my exploration. Finally, I laid my property boundary information onto the bare bones topo map for the area, and I was ready to go.
Here’s a fairly broad topo map that shows were Salisbury Hill is located relative to the Great Circle Mound.
There are decent hills all around Heath and Newark, but the middle is mostly flat land, which make the surrounding hills more impressive, with the hills giving a great view of what is/was below.
So, it was off to the parking lot.
Oh, it’s like a forest preserve (or maybe a forry preserve). That should make it easy to visit. (It also probably means that a more official name for the hill is not Salisbury Hill, but Forry Hill. Whatever.) There was another sign that said that this was the trail access point for the reserve.
The idea while hiking was for me to use my topo map to see where I was relative to the topography, and I would also use my knowledge to mark on the map just where the trails went.
Crossing the Licking River was of course easy. (By the way, you might like to read one of my earlier entries: How the Licking Got Its Name.) That’s one thing that bare feet are best at. The only thing I needed to be careful of was that there was a lot of shale around, which is very claylike and hence slippery (also needed to look out for slippery algae on the slippery shale).
You can see a shale wall on the left there, along with the shale bottom.
I then saw the old road which has obviously cut deeply into the shale.
By the way, the topo maps shows that as a new road, but it’s really pretty hard to believe with that much cutting into the landscape. More on this later.
Back in the woods I had to make a few sharp turns, and then I found this old path heading up the hill.
It did lead to the top. Looking around, I did not see any particular signs of mounds, with the exception of something that looked more like it was part of an old building. At the time, I didn’t know just what shape of mounds to look for, or where they might be located. I since located (Google!) a map (see Figure 12 in LiDAR Assessment of the Newark Earthworks). There was this old structure on top, though.
From the top, despite the trees blocking a lot of the view, you can see why Native Americans would have considered the site special: because they considered the sight special. Here’s what I could see through the trees, looking across the valley.
From here, there were all sorts of possibilities on trails to follow, so follow them I did. I think there is only one trail I did not manage to follow and place on my topo map (though you can see where it touches where I did hike—in purple). Anyways, here’s the result (click for full-size version).
I ended up hiking a total of about four miles.
Shale is one of the more challenging natural surfaces for bare feet. It breaks fairly easily and leaves these chips on the surface. This is what much of the trail looked like.
My soles are still feeling a bit like hamburger.
While hiking I also came across a fair bit of knotweed. During the Mound Walk, Jeff Gill told us how this was one of the staples of the Native American diet (particularly pre-corn).
Those are small flowers, with small seeds. But they do taste good, and the seeds have a crunchy texture with a good oil content. I imagine that collecting them in the fall was a task perfect for children. After all, they are much closer to the ground, and their eyes are still good enough to spot the things.
Yes, I nibbled a few along the way.
Finally, right near the end, I took one more little side route: that blue trail on the left side of my topo map that heads up the smaller hill next to Salisbury Hill.
I found an old mill stone near the top.
You can also see some old red bricks and a bit of foundation in the rear there.
This is a case in which pulling out an old topo map provides some additional information. My current map (base map: 1961, revised 1982) shows nothing there, but if you go back to the 1906 topo map, you see this.
You can see the dwelling marked right on top of the hill. You can also see that the old road I started out on really is old (even though my newer map shows it as a revision in 1982). No wonder why that road bit so deeply into the shale.
I descended off the back side of the hill into a little gorge/valley, and I got this shot.
I’m not much of a photographer, but every now and then I accidentally get a shot I really like. This is one of those.
Tuesday was a thoroughly enjoyable day. Exploring a new place is something I don’t get to do very often, but it is something I really enjoy. It was just a little side benefit of my interest in following up on finding out more about the Newark Earthworks.