In 1858, this ancient path, which had been used by Indians, explorers and mountain men as a short cut to the Snake River country was developed by Frederick Lander in to an alternate route on the Oregon Trail. What is commonly called the Lander Trail or Lander Cut-Off starts 9 miles to the southeast at Burnt Ranch (directly behind this sign), crosses the Sweetwater River 6 miles to the northwest, and continued along Lander Creek for 13 miles to the Continental Divide at Little Sandy Creek, the headwaters of the Pacific Ocean. From there it travels west across the Green River Valley, the Wyoming Range, and the Salt River Range before entering present-day Idaho. The Cut-Off rejoins the original Oregon Trail near Fort Hall.
This wagon road was favored by travelers for many reasons. The cut-off save as much as 7 days travel compared to the old route though Fort Bridger. avoided the expensive ferries across the Green River to the south, and bypassed the 50-mile waterless desert of the Sublette Cut-Off. Its longest waterless section was only 10 miles, and it had access to abundant grass and firewood. The Lander Cut-Off was used by an estimated 13,000 emigrants its first year, with 9,000 of them signing statements of support for the road at Fort Hall. While use dwindled after completion of the trans-continental railroad in 1869, the trail was still used by emigrants into the 20th century and played a role in the settlement of the Upper Green River Valley.