California Trail

CaliforniaCalifornia National Historic TrailCarson TrailBeckwourth TrailHenness Pass RoadCalifornia RoadCentral RouteWalker-Chiles PartyCalifornia Emigrant TrailCalifornia wagon trail
The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California.wikipedia
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Oregon Trail

OregonOregon National Historic TrailGreat Migration of 1843
After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming.
The eastern half of the trail was also used by travelers on the California Trail (from 1843), Mormon Trail (from 1847), and Bozeman Trail (from 1863), before turning off to their separate destinations.

Salt Lake Cutoff

Salt Lake Alternate Trail
From Salt Lake the Salt Lake Cutoff (est.
The Salt Lake Cutoff is one of the many shortcuts (or cutoffs) that branched from the California, Mormon and Oregon Trails in the United States.

Westward Expansion Trails

Emigrant TrailEmigrant Trailsother emigrant trails
The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California.
Three of the Missouri-based routes—the Oregon, Mormon, and California Trails—were collectively known as the Emigrant Trails.

Mormon Trail

MormonMormon Pioneer National Historic TrailMormon Pioneer Trail
After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming.
From Council Bluffs, Iowa to Fort Bridger in Wyoming, the trail follows much the same route as the Oregon Trail and the California Trail; these trails are collectively known as the Emigrant Trail.

Platte River

PlatteNebraskaNebraska River
After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming.
The river valley played an important role in the westward expansion of the United States, providing the route for several major emigrant trails, including the Oregon, California, Mormon and Bozeman trails.

City of Rocks National Reserve

City of RocksCassia Silent City of Rocks
1848) went north and west of the Great Salt Lake and rejoined the California Trail in the City of Rocks in present-day Idaho.
California Trail wagon trains of the 1840s and 1850s left the Raft River valley and traveled through the area and over Granite Pass into Nevada.

California

CAState of CaliforniaCalifornia, USA
The California Trail was an emigrant trail of about across the western half of the North American continent from Missouri River towns to what is now the state of California. About 1000 mi of the rutted traces of these trails remain in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California as historical evidence of the great mass migration westward.
These new arrivals used the Siskiyou Trail, California Trail, Oregon Trail and Old Spanish Trail to cross the rugged mountains and harsh deserts in and surrounding California.

Fort Bridger

namesake historic fortBridgerFort Bridger State Historic Site
The first was Jim Bridger's Fort Bridger (est.
It became a vital resupply point for wagon trains on the Oregon Trail, California Trail, and Mormon Trail.

Carson City, Nevada

Carson CityOrmsbyCarson City, NV
The route went south from Salt Lake City across the Jordan River to Fairfield, Utah, then west-southwest past Fish Springs National Wildlife Refuge, Callao, Utah, Ibapah, Utah, to Ely, Nevada, then across Nevada to Carson City, Nevada.
By 1851 the Eagle Station ranch along the Carson River was a trading post and stopover for travelers on the California Trail's Carson Branch which ran through Eagle Valley.

California Gold Rush

Gold RushForty-niners49er
After the discovery of gold in January 1848, word spread about the California Gold Rush.
Of the approximately 300,000 people who came to California during the Gold Rush, about half arrived by sea and half came overland on the California Trail and the Gila River trail; forty-niners often faced substantial hardships on the trip.

Green River (Colorado River tributary)

Green RiverGreenGreen River Basin
1842) in present-day Wyoming on the Green River, where the Mormon Trail turned southwest over the Wasatch Range to the newly established Salt Lake City, Utah.
Below there, it flows through open sage covered rolling prairie where it is crossed by the Oregon, California and Mormon emigration trails and then further south until it flows past the town of Green River and into the Flaming Gorge Reservoir in Southwestern Wyoming, formed by the Flaming Gorge Dam in northeastern Utah.

Humboldt Sink

Sink
At the end of the Humboldt River, where it disappeared into the alkaline Humboldt Sink, travelers had to cross the deadly Forty Mile Desert before finding either the Truckee River or Carson River in the Carson Range and Sierra Nevada mountains that were the last major obstacles before entering Northern California.
The sink and its surrounding area was a notorious and dreaded portion (called the Forty Mile Desert) of overland travel to California during the westward migrations of the mid-1800s, which were largely undertaken along the California Trail.

Fort Hall

Old Fort Hall
Just past present-day Soda Springs, Idaho, both trails initially turned northwest, following the Portneuf River (Idaho) valley to the British Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Hall (est.
Soon after Fort Hall, the Oregon and California trails diverged in northwesterly and southwesterly directions.

Humboldt River

HumboldtHumboldt River ValleyHumboldt Valley
From there the trail followed along a series of small streams, such as Thousand Springs Creek in the present state of Nevada until approaching present-day Wells, Nevada, where they met the Humboldt River.
In 1841 the river (then known as Mary's River) first became the route of the California Trail with the Bartleson-Bidwell Party, later to become the primary land route for migrants to the California gold fields.

South Pass (Wyoming)

South PassSouth Pass, Wyomingroute
South Pass, the easiest pass over the U.S. continental divide of the Pacific Ocean and Atlantic Ocean drainages, was discovered by Robert Stuart and his party of seven in 1812 while he was taking a message from the west to the east back to John Jacob Astor about the need for a new ship to supply Fort Astoria on the Columbia River—their supply ship Tonquin had blown up.
The historic pass became the route for emigrants on the Oregon, California, and Mormon trails to the West during the 19th century.

Portneuf River (Idaho)

Portneuf RiverPortneufPortneuf Range
Just past present-day Soda Springs, Idaho, both trails initially turned northwest, following the Portneuf River (Idaho) valley to the British Hudson's Bay Company's Fort Hall (est.
The valley of the Portneuf provided the route of the Oregon Trail and California Trail in the middle 19th century.

U.S. Route 50 in Nevada

U.S. Route 50US 5050
(Today's U.S. Route 50 in Nevada roughly follows this route.) (See: Pony Express Map ) In addition to immigrants and migrants from the East, after 1859 the Pony Express, Overland stages and the First Transcontinental Telegraph (1861) all followed this route with minor deviations.
In addition to the trails of the Pony Express and Lincoln Highway, this portion parallels the Carson River branch of the California Trail.

Carson River

CarsonCarson ValleyCarson River Valley
At the end of the Humboldt River, where it disappeared into the alkaline Humboldt Sink, travelers had to cross the deadly Forty Mile Desert before finding either the Truckee River or Carson River in the Carson Range and Sierra Nevada mountains that were the last major obstacles before entering Northern California.
In the 1850s and 1860s, the river was used as the route of the Carson Trail, a branch of the California Trail that allowed access to the California gold fields, as well as by the Pony Express.

Kansas

KSState of KansasKansan
About 1000 mi of the rutted traces of these trails remain in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California as historical evidence of the great mass migration westward.

Independence, Missouri

IndependenceIndependence, MOIndependence †
The future Oregon/California wagon trail had minimal improvements usually limited to partially filling in impassable gullys, etc.. By 1836, when the first Oregon migrant wagon train was organized in Independence, Missouri, a wagon trail had been scouted and roughed out to Fort Hall, Idaho.
Independence is known as the "Queen City of the Trails" because it was a point of departure for the California, Oregon, and Santa Fe Trails.

Nebraska

NEState of NebraskaGeography of Nebraska
About 1000 mi of the rutted traces of these trails remain in Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Nevada and California as historical evidence of the great mass migration westward.

Sweetwater River (Wyoming)

Sweetwater RiverSweetwater
After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming.
In southern Natrona County, it passes Devil's Gate and Independence Rock along the Oregon, California and Mormon Trails, and empties into the North Platte as the Sweetwater arm of Pathfinder Reservoir.

North Platte River

North PlatteNorthNorth Platte Valley
After it was established, the first half of the California Trail followed the same corridor of networked river valley trails as the Oregon Trail and the Mormon Trail, namely the valleys of the Platte, North Platte, and Sweetwater rivers to Wyoming.
Following the fur traders, the major emigration trails established along the north and south banks of the North Platte River were the Oregon (1843–1869), California (1843–1869), Mormon (1847–1869) and the Bozeman (1863–68) Trails.

U.S. Route 50 in California

U.S. Route 50US 50Highway 50
The Johnson Cutoff, from Placerville to Carson City along today's U.S. Route 50 in California, was used by the Pony Express (1860–61) year-round and in the summer by the stage lines (1860–69).
The earliest roads used by Europeans to cross the Sierra Nevada into California were branches of the California Trail.

Emigrant Gap

Emigrant Passthe Truckee route
They were caught by early winter snows and abandoned their wagons near Emigrant Gap and had to hike out of the Sierras after being rescued by a party from Sutter's Fort on February 24, 1845.
Emigrant Gap is a gap in a ridge on the California Trail as it crosses the Sierra Nevada, to the west of what is now known as Donner Pass.