Clark’s Hill is a triple-bonus sort of place, interesting geologically, geographically, and historically. Plus, it provides one of the finest overlook views of the Missouri River valley that can be had. Hike up the hill to stand in the footsteps of Lewis and Clark.

Clark’s Hill is above the present confluence of the Osage River on the left and the Missouri River, at the tip of the triangular patch of yellow grain in the distance where the two rivers come closest together. The hill now adjoins a peninsula that is the former Big (or Dodd’s) Island. The thin white line is a road on the levee that separates the rivers. Most bottomland along the channelized Missouri River is now in row crops.
Photo by Jim Wark

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark camped here in 1804, and again on their return trip in 1806. On the morning of June 2, 1804, Clark left the riverbank camp and climbed the hill, which he estimated to have been one hundred feet high.

William Clark would have seen a much wider Missouri River than visitors see today. 
Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Today, the park provides an easy walk to the top of the high riverside bluff via a trail through the woods. The trail offsets the steepness of the climb by making a few switchbacks, trading length for slope. Along the way, visitors pass by five Native American burial mounds along the edge of the bluff.

The hill is densely wooded today, but in a few open, sunny clearings, wildflowers can be seen. In winter, eagles sometimes fish the rivers lying just below. Although the valley is always on view, the best look at the rivers themselves is in the wintertime, when the surrounding trees are bare.

Photo Courtesy of Missouri State Parks

Up and down both rivers, the dense bottomland forests are mostly gone now, and a patchwork of crops and plowed fields recedes into the distance. But the hill itself remains the same, as do its five burial mounds, there for a thousand years. 

Zebulon Pike led an exploration party by this hill and up the Osage River at nearly the same time as Lewis and Clark were returning down the Missouri River from the northwest in 1806. The two parties missed each other by a month.

Clark’s Hill/Norton State Historic Site
Osage Hickory St, Osage City
13 acres
Cole County
• Osage Trail (0.5 mi)

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