The Cherokee Trail about 900 miles long and is part of the California Trail system of trails. The trail starts around Salina, Oklahoma running through Kansas, Colorado ending at Fort Bridger Wyoming. At Fort Bridger the immigrant could chose to go to Oregon country, or south to Salt Lake and on to California.
In 1849, Lieutenant Abraham Buford, escorting the mail from Santa Fe to the east, turned south at McPherson, Kansas, to follow the recently blazed Evans/Cherokee Trail to Fort Gibson, Oklahoma, and then connected with another trail to nearby Fort Smith, Arkansas. Starting in 1850 the trail was used continuously by gold seekers, emigrants and cattle drovers from Arkansas, Texas, Missouri, and the Cherokee Nation. In 1850, a member of a wagon train en route to California discovered gold in Ralston Creek, a tributary of Clear Creek north of present day Denver. Stories of this discovery led to further expeditions in 1858, and the subsequent 1859 Colorado Gold Rush. In the 1860s portions of the trail from northern Colorado to Fort Bridger in Wyoming were incorporated as part of the Overland Trail and stage route between Kansas and Salt Lake City, Utah.