Burnett Cutoff

Applegate Trail Region

Burnett Cutoff - 1848

By 1841 a trappers pack trail was in use from Oregon into California. In 1846 the Applegate Trail was opened. It left the pack trail near Ashland and turned eastward along the 42nd Parallel that separated Oregon from California. It wove around Klamath Lake, Tule Lake, and Clear Lake to the south end of Goose Lake. From there it turned southwest eventually meeting up with the main California Trail on the Humboldt River.

When the news of gold in California reached Oregon by sailing ships, the rush was on and Oregonians packed along the Oregon to California Trail to the gold fields.

Peter Burnett thought might be able to make the trip with wagons. At first following the Oregon to California Trail with wagons, and then the Applegate Trail as far as the east shore of Tule Lake, Burnett’s wagon train turned south into unknown territory. Burnett’s “road hunters” went ahead of the wagons searching for a route and came upon the wagon tracks of Peter Lassen’s wagon party at the Pit River near the southern end of Big Valley. The opening of the Burnett Cutoff that linked the Applegate Trail and the new Lassen Trail offered for the first time wagon travel between Oregon and California.