Yes, if you know where to look you can still see the remnants of the crater from Cedar Trails.

I We have had many requests for information on the Meteor Crater of which Cedar Trails sits on the rim and is visible from the hiking trails.

The following information is from the Adams County Travel and Visitors Bureau along with the publication "Country Living" February 2008

A meteor hit Adams County and left a six-mile-wide crater

300 million years ago.

Mark T. Baranoske is a Geologist with the Ohio Division of Geologic Survey in Columbus.  He was the lead scientist on a project designed to determine the origin of an anomaly in the rocks covering a rough circle six miles across in Highland and Pike Counties, but mostly in Adams County. The first to discover the huge feature was as early as the 1830's and was called a "sunken mountain". 

Geologic Survey scientists spent years researching the subsurface geology of what has commonly been called the Serpent Mound cryptoexplosion, or the crypto volcano site.  The Native American effigy site has nothing directly to do with the geologic event of astral origin with the new scientific findings.

You can visit and still see the remnants of this earth shattering event.  There are several places where parts of the crater are still visible and apparent to the eye, once you know what to look for.  You will enter the crater along ST 73 between Locust Grove and Louden (Cedar Trails Nudist Retreat) you will enter the crater (traveling west on SR 73) once you pass Seaman Road and exit the crater as you approach Louden Road - an area which includes Serpent Mound State Memorial.  Because the famous ancient earthwork lies inside the crater, the area was Federally-designated the Serpent Mound Crypto-explosion natural national landmark.

The meteor crater was given this special federal designation by the Department of the Interior because it is considered a "nationally significant natural area" and is only one of 23 such designations in the state of Ohio, and one of only 587 designations nationally.

Adams County also has additional Natural National Landmark area:  Buzzardroost Rock-Lynx Prairie and The Wilderness.  Another nearby Natural National Landmark located just north of the crater is the Fort Hill State Memorial designated such in December 1974.

The meteor crater was originally given the title of "crypto-explosion" because geologists originally did not know what the origin of the strange geologic feature was.  But, in 2005, an international team of geologists and geophysicists, announced the findings of conclusive evidence from the meteor impact.  The researchers revealed that, after analyzing dozens of core samples that were collected throughout the crater area, there was a layer of iridium crystals at approximately 1,412 ft below the ground which formed as a result of the tremendous heat generated in the meteor's impact.  They also found microscopic cracks in quartz similar to what has been found at nuclear bomb explosion sites, as well as find "shatter cones" - rock fragments left after the explosive impact occurred.

You can see some of these "shatter cones" fragments on display at the House of Phacops rock and fossil shop located at the intersection of SR 41 and SR 73 just outside the crater.  The best place to view the crater (from the inside) is at Serpent Mound State Memorial, where if you look to the south from the parking lot - the ridge you see in the distance is the rim of the crater itself.  There are displays about the crater at the museum there.  You can also see some evidence of the force of the impact if you drive north from SR 73 on ELMVILLE ROAD, as you are coming to Cedar Trails nudist Retreat, just before you reach the Brush Creek Bridge, look to your right in the farm field-the 10-15 foot ledge running east/west is a significant geologic fault that was created by the impact.

Much of the area for viewing the crater is on private land such as: Cedar Trails Nudist Retreat which has hiking trails to take you to the rim of the crater.  The north/west side of the Cedar Trails Property sits right on the ridge and is visible for viewing. There is also a lookout point that allows view of the other side of the rim in a distance.

Maybe the Mound Builders put their effigy there, moved simply by its beauty.  It is pretty enough after all. It is well worth coming to see.


 Frequently Asked questions




Tour of the Grounds


Serpent Mount State Park

The Great Serpent Mound of Ohio, the Largest Earthen Effigy in the World

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The Great Serpent Mound is a 1,300-foot long and 3-foot high prehistoric effigy mound located on a plateau of a crater along Ohio Brush Creek in Adams County, Ohio, and is the largest surviving prehistoric effigy mound in the world. Resembling an uncoiling serpent, the mound is steeped in mystery and controversy. Despite over a century of research, there is no conclusive evidence about what it represents, when it was built, and what its true purpose was, though various astronomical alignments suggest it may have functioned as a type of calendar.

The Serpent Mound conforms to the curve of the land on which it rests, with its head approaching a cliff above a stream. It winds back and forth for more than eight hundred feet and has seven distinct coils, ending in a triple-coiled tail. The serpent head has an open mouth extending around the east end of a 120-foot-long hollow oval feature, which is generally viewed as an egg, although other interpretations suggest it is the sun, the body of a frog, or merely the remnant of a platform. To the west of the effigy, is a triangular mound measuring approximately 32 feet at its base and long axis. The Serpent Mound is believed to have been laid out all at once, with a layer of clay and ash, and reinforced with stones.

An illustration of the Serpent Mound. Image source.

Thousands of years ago, Native American peoples populated the Ohioan landscape with mounds and massive earthworks. Initial research attributed the effigy to the Adena culture, which flourished from 1000 BC to 100 AD. The Adena culture are well-known for building burial and effigy mounds, many of which are located near the Great Serpent Mound. However, radiocarbon dating on pieces of charcoal found within the Serpent Mound established that people worked on the mound around 1070 AD. Thus, the mound may have been built by the Fort Ancient peoples, who lived in the Ohio Valley from 1000 CE to 1550 CE. Nevertheless, the testing is not conclusive as it only reveals that 1000-year-old charcoal was found within the mound. This could have ended up there long after the effigy was originally built.

Interpretations of the Serpent Mound

The most predominant theory is that the Serpent Mound represents a giant snake, which is slowly uncoiling itself and about to seize a huge egg within its extended jaws. However many theories abound suggesting various interpretations. For instance, some think it may represent an eclipse, or the phases of the moon. Others have speculated that it represents the myth of the horned serpent found in many Native American cultures. In 1909, local German Baptist minister Landon West proposed another unusual theory: the serpent was writhing in its death throes as punishment for tempting Adam and Eve in what West believed was the original Garden of Eden.

There are serious suggestions that the serpent is intimately connected with the heavens. Several writers have suggested that the serpent is a model of the constellation we call the Little Dipper, its tail coiled about the North Star.

Various alignments of the serpent correspond to astronomical features, such as alignments of the sun and moon. In 1987 Clark and Marjorie Hardman published their finding that the oval-to-head area of the serpent is aligned to the summer solstice sunset, suggesting that one of the effigy’s purposes was to mark the turning of the year so that planting and gathering and hunting could be planned.

William F. Romain has suggested an array of six lunar alignments corresponding to the curves in the effigy's body. If the Serpent Mound were designed to sight both solar and lunar arrays, it would be reflect the consolidation of astronomical knowledge into a single symbol.

Generations of researchers agree with the theory that the Serpent Mound holds astronomical significance, but the intent of those who built the serpent, and how it was used still remains a mystery.

Many scholars believe the Serpent Mound was used in religious ceremonies. When settlers first discovered the mound, there was a fire-scorched stone monument in the egg-shaped head, which has led some to suggest it was used as an altar of some sort – possibly sacrificial, based on the ceremonial knives unearthed among the blackened stones and a number of headless skeletons discovered in gravesites nearby. Whatever its true purpose, the Serpent Mound attests to the ingenuity of its creators. As the Ancient Ohio Trail website so aptly states: “The genius of its designers remains apparent: this blend of beauty, familiarity, abstraction, power, precision, and mystery, make Ohio’s Serpent Mound one of the great, iconic images for all of human antiquity.”

Featured image: The Serpent Mound. Photo source. By April Holloway


Serpent Mound – Ohio Historical Society

Serpent Mound – Arc of Appalachia Preserve System

Serpent Mound, the World’s Most Famous Earthen Effigy – The Ancient Ohio Trail

Crazy Theories Threaten Serpent Mound, Demean Native Heritage – Indian Country Media

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