Migration Routes

17th-Century Routes

Albany Post Road

New York

This route followed the Wickquasgeck Trail through present day Manhattan, New York. In 1669, the route was proposed into a functioning postal route. This route was approved and served as a link between New York and Albany. US Highway 9 follows the original route.

Buffalo Trail

North Carolina, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, South Carolina, Georgia

This route began as a buffalo migration along the mountainous regions to the natural salt licks in Kentucky. These lands were prime hunting grounds for the Cherokee, Catawba, Saura, Sapona and many other tribes. The route was later used as portions of a migration trail leading families west of the Blue Ridge mountains for settlement.

Chinklacamoose Trail

Pennsylvania

This route traveled into western Pennsylvania. The road was widely used by fur trappers and mountain men. Details about this road can be found in a presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Colonial Western Pennsylvania.

Great Shamokin Path

Pennsylvania

This path was very popular along the Susquehanna River. Travel began from the Shamokin Village and led north to present-day Milton. To learn more details, view the presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Colonial Western Pennsylvania.

Farm Highway

Massachusetts and Connecticut

The Farm Highway is also known as old Route 108. This highway traveled from Boston Post Road into Connecticut near Sheldon. The road was actually built on the south side of Mischa Hill on December 7, 1696. It is considered to be one of the oldest highways in Connecticut. The road is approx. 12 miles in length.

Keowee Trail

South Carolina

The Keowee Trail is one of the oldest routes in the South Carolina area. It spans a time period of over 300 years of history and migration. The road began as a footpath with the Native Americans and developed into a well-maintained trading route between the tribes and the early residents of colonial South Carolina. The route begins in present day Charleston and travels in a northwesterly direction across the entire state. It’s history dates to the late 17th century and continues today in many areas along our modern highways. The road joins other early routes together such as the Congaree at Ninety-Six. Be sure to visit The Keowee Trail-The Splendor of An Old Road by Piedmont Trails to learn more.

Kittanning Indian Trail

Pennsylvania

Kittanning was one of the most important villages located in western Pennsylvania. This path led to the village along the Alleghany River. Out of all of the 17th-century trails, this was the most popular traveling east to west. To learn more details, view the presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Colonial Western Pennsylvania.

Occaneechi Trail

Virginia, north carolina, south carolina and georgia

This trail dates much older than the 17th century and the name derives from the Occaneechi tribe of Native Americans. The route begins at Petersburg, Virginia and extends in a southwesterly direction to Augusta, Georgia. This route was used for trading purposes with the inland Native Americans prior to the 18th century. As the road grew, it became known by other names such as the Trading Path and the Fall Line Road. The original route was approximately 500 miles and joined other routes, such as the Great Wagon Road, as colonial traveling changed for the next generation.

Thigpen’s Trace

Virginia, NOrth Carolina, South Carolina and georgia

This road dates to 1704 during Queen Anne’s War. The route used as a military supply line gets its name from the creator, James Thigpen. Military routes were roads wide enough to accommodate wagons, and this road served its purpose for many years after the war. Captain Thigpen accepted the responsibility to cut the road running approximately 460 miles. Later, remnants of the road appear in various maps naming it the Indian Trading Road and The Trader’s Path. An excellent reference for portions of this road can be found on Edward Moseley’s North Carolina map dating to 1733. Several segments of this road date before the 18th-century and was used primarily as routes connecting the Cherokee and other tribes with each other. The evidence of these earlier segments is documented within several trading journals and early explorers. Piedmont Trails recently discovered documents stating that the Thigpen’s Trace was originally targeted for the Mississippi River. We are currently working on the exact ending location by Thigpen and his men.

Trading Path

Virginia, NOrth Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia

The Trading Path is remnants of the original route known as Thigpen’s Trace. This route later became known as one of the most popular trading routes used between the Native villages and the well-known traders from Virginia and South Carolina. To have a better understanding about the origins of this path, view the presentation entitled The Trading Years by Piedmont Trails.

Wickquesgeck Trail

New York

This route actually predates the 17th-century and traveled through present-day Manhattan.

18th-Century Routes

Allegheny Road

Maryland

The Great Wagon Road Project is currently plotting this route through the Alleghany Mountains in Maryland. We are also looking for any connections from the original route to the GWR. Subscribe to Piedmont Trails and stay up to date with the latest developments.

Big Sandy Trail

West Virginia and Kentucky

This route was also a main water route leading into eastern Kentucky from present-day West Virginia. To learn more about the origins and other details, view the presentation entitled Early Kentucky Roads by Piedmont Trails.

Braddock’s Road

Maryland and pennsylvania

The origins of this route actually began with Nemacolin’s Path, listed on the page. The military road came into existence in 1755. The Braddock construction offered improvements along the ridgelines and helped to open new territory in Ohio and the central Midwest. Piedmont Trails is currently working on the exact improvements made by Braddock and his Virginia militia men.

Boone Trail

North Carolina, Tennessee and Kentucky

This is the famous Daniel Boone Trail leading from the Yadkin River Valley to eastern Tennessee and Kentucky. Several segments of this trail connect to the original Gist’s Road circa 1744/45. Piedmont Trails has discovered some fascinating details concerning the Boone Trail and will be sharing these soon.

Cape Fear Road

North Carolina

This road was petitioned in Rowan County during the mid-18th-century. The origins began in the Wachovia tract belonging to the Moravian settlements and traveled southeast to reach present-day Fayetteville. The road was highly used for marketing and business transactions during the colonial period. To learn more about this route, visit The Origins of the Cape Fear Road in North Carolina .

Conococheague Road

Maryland

This road actually connects to the Great Wagon Road near the town of Keedysville. We have traced the original parcel to George Gordon and his home in 1738. The road separated from the Great Wagon Road just east of present-day Keedysville, Washington County.

Dry Ridge Trace

Kentucky

This route was one of the earliest paths in the Kentucky frontier. To learn more details, visit the presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Early Kentucky Roads.

Fall Line Road

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and georgia

The Fall Line Road separates from the King’s Highway at Fredericksburg, Virginia. Modern day maps pinpoint the main route as Highway 1. Travelers who traveled southward prior to 1750 would have access to this route. This particular path provided a much easier trail that allowed wagons to pass through versus steeper sections of The Great Wagon Road and the extension Upper Road. The road ended in Augusta, Georgia and spanned a period of growth between 1735 through 1760. The route arrived in present day Raleigh by the mid 1740’s and reached Cheraw, South Carolina by early 1750’s. It further extended into Georgia just prior to 1761.

Flour Gap Road

Virginia and North Carolina

This route became a popular road in 1750 when Christopher Gist traveled from present-day Wilkesboro, NC to Roanoke, Virginia in one day. The road connected to Mulberry Fields Road in what was then known as Rowan County. Traveling north, it reached the VA state line at the area known as Flour Gap. This was originally a mill route that traveled to the southern Virginia mining camps to deliver flour and other goods. Read the article entitled Digging Deeper Into Flower Gap, Virginia by Piedmont Trails to learn more.

Forbes Road

Pennsylvania

During the year of 1758, Forbes Road was established from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania to Fort Duquesne located in western Pennsylvania. The road became a major military route during the French and Indian War. Present day location would be very similar to the Pennsylvania Turnpike along Interstate 76. Years later, this route would be used to reach the upper northwestern territory. The road was named after John Forbes, a general with the British force.

Gist’s Road

North Carolina, Virginia, Tennessee and Kentucky

The route was named after Christopher Gist who was a trader, hunter, and scout in North Carolina and Virginia. He settles his family near present-day Wilkesboro near the Yadkin River before 1750 and visits with the remaining Saponi tribe in the area. Many portions of Boone’s Trail followed Gist’s Road into Tennessee and Kentucky. The Great Wagon Road Project discovered the route from the original manuscript of Gist’s journal and letters.

The Great Wagon Road

Great Wagon Road

Pennsylvania, Maryland, West Virginia, Virginia, North carolina, south carolina and georgia

The Great Wagon Road extends from Lancaster, Pennsylvania to Augusta, Georgia. This is a distance of over 800 miles over rough terrain and mountainous landscapes. The road originally began as a footpath named The Great Warrior’s Path and used by the Native Americans for many generations. The road formation began prior to the 1740 decade and by 1744, families began traveling the route to the southern colonies. The route passed through the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia and extended into the Carolinas. This particular road was the most traveled route during the 18th century and allowed the passage of tens of thousands of families to migrate to other areas for settlement. To learn more about this fascinating road, be sure to visit The Great Wagon Road Project by Piedmont Trails.

Hickey’s Road

Virginia

Lunenburg County Court of Virginia ordered a road cut and cleared from Stanton River to the Mayo Settlement at Wart Mountain. The road order dates June 5, 1749, and John Hickey was living in the vicinity between Falling Creek and Little Roanoke. Hickey’s business quickly became a primary supplier for families traveling into North Carolina and points south Hickey’s wagons, often traveled along the road carrying supplies and goods to his store. Later the route became known as Hickey’s Road. To learn more, read John Hickey’s Ordinary by Piedmont Trails.

King’s Highway

New York, massachusetts, pennsylvania, new jersey, delaware, virginia, north carolina and south carolina

The King’s Highway began as a riding trail for mail service between Boston and New York. The road was originally known as the Boston Post Road and travels the same route of the present-day Massachusetts Turnpike. By 1750, the connection of several post roads in this area joined together and formed the King’s Highway from Massachusetts to Charleston, South Carolina. By the time of the American Revolutionary War, the highway reached Maine and southward to Georgia. For more information about the King’s Highway, be sure to visit the First Major Route of the Colonies: The King’s Highway by Piedmont Trails.

Lancaster Road

Pennsylvania

This road originated as early as 1725 and follows the old Philadelphia Pike or US Highway 30 and PA Highway 340 from Philadelphia to Lancaster. Lancaster was formed in 1727 as a result of this road. The earliest western migrations out of Philadelphia had little to no access to the Susquehanna River without first traveling to the mouth of the river located in Maryland. This original route later connected to the Great Wagon Road leading into Maryland, Virginia, and later the Carolinas.

Matthew Moore’s Road

North Carolina

This route dates to the late 18th-century and began at the home of Matthew Moore in present-day Stokes County. The area was later known as Moore’s Springs, a popular traveling destination during the summer months for 19th-century families. After locating the road by researching the Great Wagon Road, Piedmont Trails is currently identifying the exact route from Stokes County into the eastern sections of Forsyth County. Subscribe to the website to stay up to date with the latest discoveries on this route and many others.

Nemacolin’s Path
Pennsylvania

This route is located in the western sections of Pennsylvania and the Alleghany Mountains. To learn more about the route and other details, view the presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Colonial Western Pennsylvania.

New Garden Road

North Carolina

This route is located in present-day Greensboro, Guilford County. The Great Wagon Road Project first discovered the route in 2020 and we are currently proving the original path dating from the 1750 decade. The updates as of 2022 are definitive points proven near the Battle of Guilford Courthouse and leading north to the Old Field Creek area and west of present-day Kernersville.

Old Cherokee Path

Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina

This trail was used by the Cherokee for centuries before the early settlers arrived during the mid 18th century. A mountainous rough trail leading from the southern border of Tennessee near present day Bristol and traveling south through the western mountains of North and South Carolina. The path was primarily used as a trading and hunting path for the Native Americans and followed the local creeks and streams through various gaps of the terrain. Entering into the South Carolina boundary, the trail turned towards the southwest into present day Pickens and Oconee counties. This was not an easy trail to travel but the proof of these early families migrating to the area as early as 1750 reminds us all that settlements in forbidden territories were occurring. The road was not officially opened for new settlers until the year of 1777.

Raystown Path

Pennsylvania

This road can be located in the western sections of Pennsylvania. Learn more by viewing a presentation given by Piedmont Trails entitled Colonial Western Pennsylvania.

Ridge Road

North Carolina

This route began as a migration route leading from the foothills of present-day Wilkes County to the western mountains of North Carolina. Large portions of the original route can be found along NC State Highway 18.

Road To the Dan

North Carolina

This route traveled from the Yadkin River area to north above the Moravian settlements and Wachovia. The road was first discovered with the Great Wagon Road Project in 2019. The origins of the road are still unknown in 2022, but the path has become clearer as early deeds and surveys point to the correct topography on the ground. Later years, the locals would refer to this route as the Morgan Bryan/Bryant Road. Subscribe to Piedmont Trails to stay up to date with the latest developments.

Santa Fe Trail

Missouri, Kansas, Colorado, New Mexico

One of the oldest and longest trails leading west from the Missouri River. Piedmont Trails is currently mapping the original route and will have updates on this and older connecting routes soon.

Sherrill’s Path

North Carolina

This local road traveled from the Yadkin River to the Catawba River in 1748. The Great Wagon Road Project is currently researching the connections between this route and the GWR. To learn more about Sherrill’s Path, read the article entitled Sherrill’s Path in North Carolina by Piedmont Trails.

Skagg’s Trace

Kentucky

This route dates to the 18th-century in present-day Kentucky. To learn more details, view the presentation entitled Early Kentucky Roads by Piedmont Trails.

South Carolina Road

south carolina

This route began from Charleston during the year of 1731 and extended in a northwestern direction to Greenville. This particular route traveled through the center of the state which greatly aided in the population growth of the 18th century. It merged with various other roads such as the Great Wagon Road, Fall Line Road, Trading Path and the Catawba Trail. This route was used often during the American Revolutionary War and was well maintained along the coastal area.

Taylor’s Pass

Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia

This road traveled through the eastern sections of Tennessee south to central Georgia to the present-day state of Alabama.

The Mountain Pass

Tennessee, Alabama

The road traveled from upper Alabama to the southern sections of Tennessee.

Turkey Foot Road

Pennsylvania

Upper Road

Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia

This road emerged from inland settlements extending from Fredericksburg, Virginia to joining the main route along the Fall Line Road otherwise known as the Old Trader’s Path. The road travels parallel to the Fall Line until it reaches the mid section of North Carolina. Here the road joins the older route and near the Charlotte area both roads join together with the Great Wagon Road traveling south into the South Carolina area. It was these groups of roads that impacted these areas the most during the 18th century. Evidence shows this route in use by 1740 and less than 10 years later, the road was wide enough to accommodate wagons safely through the Virginia interior.

Wilderness Trail

virginia, tennessee and kentucky

The history of the Wilderness Trail is fascinating with its detailed stories, the adventurous settlers’ biographies and the actual setting of the landscape. All of this combined allows us to have a better understanding of why this trail was so popular during the late 18th century. Portions of the trail were discovered by Abraham Wood during the 17th century. The trail links to the Great Wagon Road in the Shenandoah Valley of Virginia. Wood traveled the area as early as 1650. He documented this experience with vivid details. This trail ended at the capital of the Cherokee Nation, Chota. The road became very active due to Daniel Boone’s expedition through Cumberland Gap and into Kentucky during the later years of the 18th century. At times, this trail was no more than a narrow path through the wilderness. Many early settlers would carry all of their items because the trail was not wide enough for the passage of wagons. US Highway 25 and State Highway 150 closely follows the original route of this trail.

19th-Century Routes

Bozeman Trail

Montana and Oregon

This route connected Montana to Oregon and originated during the year of 1863. Piedmont Trails has just discovered new details about this route and an older route connection. Subscribe to the website to stay up to date with the latest developments.

California Road

Missouri, kansas, colorado, utah, wyoming, idaho and california

This road holds origins dating early 1811 by mountain men who traveled and hunted the area for many years. Some of these early travelers were Kit Carson, Jebediah Smith, Thomas Fitzpatrick, Joseph Walker and Peter Ogden. The initial trail began in present day Missouri and traveled west to northern California. The beginning half of the route follows the Oregon Trail and Mormon Trail. The second half splits from these trails in present day Idaho and continues west to California. This road was very active with pioneers during the early 1840’s and covered approx. 3,000 miles.

Georgia Road

Georgia, Tennessee

The Georgia Road, also known as the Federal Horse Path Road, was first recognized as a major route during 1805. Once a trail with the Cherokee, it traveled from Savannah crossing the state to the upper northern sections and reaching into the Tennessee area. The route later became the federal recognized post road for these areas and a toll road for many migrating families during the period. The discovery of gold during 1828 allowed this route to be the primary link to the areas where the gold was located. By 1845, many sections of the road were no longer in use due to more modern roads and the construction of the railroad. The road came into existence by way of the Treaty of Tellico which included the use of two routes joining together and forming the Georgia Road.

Michigan Road

Indiana

This route crosses the entire state from southeast to northwest and connects the Ohio River to Lake Michigan. The road quickly became a major route after a treaty was signed with the Pottawatomie tribe in October of 1826. From this moment, the road was finalized and maintained. The original route can still be traveled today allowing the rediscovery of history and genealogy along the way.

Oregon Trail

Kansas, Nebraska, Wyoming, Idaho, Oregon

This route consisted of 2,170 miles with sections of dating to 1811. Portions of the original route can be seen in Wyoming and Idaho capturing the actual wagon wheel ruts within the terrain. Piedmont Trails discussed this route during a presentation entitled Western Migration 1846-1856. A follow-up was also given on the Piedmont Trails podcast entitled The Old West Forts-Episode#34.

Platte River Road

Nebraska

This route was adjacent to the original Oregon Trail dating 1846. Piedmont Trails has discovered new evidence about the origins of this route and will be making an announcement soon.

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