1026. Hart Grove Creek Campground and Crossing

Engraved stone sign for Hart Grove Creek including several National Historic Trail logos.
Hart Grove Creek sign

This picturesque valley was the campsite of the infamous 1846 Donner Party…and thousands of other emigrants during the heyday of the overland trail system. Wild game and fish plentiful in this lush valley system of fords and streams leading into the Big Blue River, unlike many stretches of the trail that lay ahead. 


As travelers moved west, scouts sometimes had to venture more than a mile from the established trails to forage for wild game because the noise and commotion of so many wagon trains moving west day-to-day forced animals to stay clear of the noise and commotion of the trail and the hunters set on supplementing their supplies with game.


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Hiram O. Miller, enroute west with the infamous Donner party, wrote on May 14, 1846, “Camped at ‘Heart Grove’ Jackson County…twenty two miles from Independence on the Big Blue." For miles out of Independence, travelers had been following a series of high hill-side ridge lines. At this point, some diarists noted they were “coming off the ridge.”


Hiram O. Miller, enroute west with the infamous Donner party, wrote on May 14, 1846, “Camped at ‘Heart Grove’ Jackson County…twenty two miles from Independence on the Big Blue." For miles out of Independence, travelers had been following a series of high hill-side ridge lines. At this point, some diarists noted they were “coming off the ridge.”


Today, Hart Grove is one of many historic trail sites incorporated into a metro-wide, interconnected, 1,273-mile long hiking, walking and biking system called the “MetroGreen Regional Greenway System.”


Metro Green Parks


Santa Fe National Historic Trail


Kansas City Trail Plan (pdf)