Exploring Northwest Florida
Exploring Northwest Florida
Hidden among the trees and tall grasses of Letchworth Love Mounds is a collection of plazas and as many as 28 smaller mounds that make up the oldest ceremonial mound complex in Florida. It is also one of the oldest mound complexes in the Southeast.
Built between 200 and 800 AD, it predates the other two Northwest Florida Indian mounds, Lake Jackson Mounds in Tallahassee and the Indian Temple Mound in Fort Walton Beach, by as much as 500 to 1000 years. Both of these others were built during the Fort Walton Culture (1200 to 1500 AD), but the Letchworth-Love mounds were built during the Weeden Island Culture, so named for a unique, high quality pottery style first discovered in 1923 on Weeden Island in Pinellas County.
The park is located on 188 acres between Tallahassee and the town of Monticello, the original 80 acres having been purchased from Larry and Rosa Letchworth in 1992. The focal point of the park is the 46-foot tall Great Temple mound, the tallest prehistoric, Native American ceremonial earthwork mound in Florida.
Letchworth Love Mounds is actually part of a larger mound complex that extends beyond the park boundaries and may have been the eastern capitol of an ancient Native American culture. The function of the complex is not known for sure, but it could be that it was built for ceremonial purposes. The mounds are considered sacred so much of the site has not been excavated. Some pottery shards have been found, and there is at least one burial mound recorded in 1972, but little is known of the people who lived here and built the mounds.
Once called the Miccosukee Indian Mound because of its proximity to Lake Miccosukee, the mound is built of an estimated 280 million pounds of dirt which was hand carried to the site in baskets weighing 20 to 230 pounds each. An interactive exhibit at the park shows just how heavy a basket of dirt used to build the mound would have been. It could have taken an estimated 14 million trips with a 20-pound basket to build the Great mound, which has platforms, an earthen ramp, and a pyramid-like peak.
The purpose of this Florida state park is to preserve one of the archaeological wonders of pre-Columbian Florida while allowing the public to view and use the site. The park opened in 1998 and a boardwalk, trails, restroom facilities, and an interpretive pavilion with picnic tables have been added. The picnic area and platform viewing area for the mound are wheelchair-accessible.
There is a 3D hands-on, interactive model of the mound with an audio narrative, a depiction of the people of the Weeden Island Culture, and a map of other mounds, native cultures and historic sites in the area.
The park offers picnicking, birding, and an interpretive trail that starts at the base of the ceremonial mound and winds past several smaller mounds. A spur trail with interpretive signage located just off the main trail passes by two mounds and the boardwalk leads you to an additional mound located at the park.
There is also abundant wildlife, so keep a look out for snakes and alligators on the ground as well as bald eagles and osprey soaring high above the trees.
4500 Sunray Road, South
Tallahassee, Florida 32309
Hours of Operation:
The park is open from 8:00 a.m. until sundown, 365 days a year.
Letchworth-Love Mounds Archaeological State Park is located in Jefferson County, approximately six miles west of Monticello. From Monticello, go west on U.S. Highway 90. Turn left onto Sunray Road South and go half a mile to the park entrance. From Tallahassee take U.S. Highway 90 east for approximately 15 miles past I-10, then turn right onto Sunray Road South and proceed half a mile to the park entrance.
$3.00 per vehicle. Please use the honor box to pay fees. Correct change is required. Limit 8 people per vehicle
$2.00 Pedestrians, bicyclists, extra passengers, passengers in vehicle with holder of Annual Individual Entrance Pass
Domestic pets are permitted in designated day-use areas at ALL Florida State Parks. They must be kept on a handheld leash that is six feet or shorter and be well-behaved at all times. Pet owners are required to pick up after their pets and properly dispose of their droppings. Service animals are welcome in all areas of Florida State Parks.
Places nearby that you might also be interested in visiting:
Lake Jackson Mounds State Park