California Trail

Many feeder branches of emigrant trails crossed the states of Iowa and Missouri.

The California Trail of about 3000 miles began near Kanesville, later named Council Bluffs, and Omaha, Nebraska.  Sections of the trail were discovered and developed by American Fur Traders like Kit Carson and Jebediah Smith.

To retrace a portion of the California Trail:

  • Begin east of Council Bluffs on Highway 92, driving west towards Council Bluffs
  • Turn south on 240th Street / County Road L-45
  • Turn west on Aspen Road to Dumfries Avenue
  • Turn south (left) on Dunfries Avenue to stop at a historic marker commemorating the beginnings of the California Gold Rush Trail
  • Return north to Pioneer Trail and turn west toward Council Bluffs
  • Keep right on Wabash Avenue / Harry Langdon Blvd.
  • Return to Highway 92

Getting across the Missouri River became easier mid-19th century by using steamboats and ferries to the Nebraska side of the river.

California Gold Rush Trail Historic Site

Pioneer Trail & Dumfries Avenue, 8 miles SE of Council Bluffs
Council Bluffs, IA 51503

Trail Map

More Trails to Explore

Mormon Trail

Explore the route traveled by 70,000 Mormons from 1846 to 1869.

Stars and Bronze Tribute Trail

Pay tribute to the “Eagles of Honor”, the Freedom Rock, and other projects to Honor veterans and other public figures.

Wabash Trace Nature Trail

Take an amazing trip through Southwest Iowa, home to the Taco Ride.

Lewis and Clark Trail

Follow Lewis and Clark’s great journey west.

West Nishnabotna River Water Trail

Float along this 27-mile water trail ideal for canoes, kayaks, and tubes.

All Trails

Go back to our full list of trails!