Of the 2170 miles of the Oregon Trail, approximately 300 miles of ruts remain. Swales created by thousands of wagon wheels and the trampling of draft animals are deep in some areas, shallow in other places. Much of the trail has disappeared due to natural erosion, and development of farms, highways, cities and towns. In some places, the Oregon Trail, or Emigrant Road as it was generally called in the 19th century, was later used by automobiles. Other places to easily see Oregon Trail rut segments on public land in eastern Oregon:
The Oregon Trail route followed the easiest grades wherever possible. Here the trail came from the southeast across Virtue Flat. It headed northwest towards Baker Valley and the divide in the low hills to the north. In any place where level open ground permitted, wagons spread out rather than follow single file. There are three sets of ruts through this segment, however the second and third sets are very faint.
It is permissible to walk in the trail ruts on public land, but please help preserve the trail for others to see by avoiding any activity that might erode or damage the ruts. If following rut traces, please get permission before crossing from public land to private land. Close any gates you open, and pack out litter.
Keeney Pass - Six
miles southeast of Vale on Lytle Boulevard, there is a BLM interpretive site with paved trail and parking area. Deep double swales mark where wagons claimed the summit. For and five sets of ruts gradually merge into one.
Blue Mountain Crossing - From I-84, exit 248, about 16 miles northwest of LaGrande. Open only during the summer season. Managed by the USDA Forest Service, this park has some of the best preserved ruts in Oregon. Paved trails provide easy access to deep ruts in the forest floor.
Echo Meadows - Five and a half miles west of Echo on Highway 320, then half mile north on a gravel road. A BLM interpretive site provides parking, informational panels, and a paved trail to deep, clear ruts. Surrounded by developed farmland, this small section preserves the look and sounds of a meadow as experienced by the pioneers.