The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail is a 2,200 mile long trail that follows the route of the forced westward migration of many American Indian tribes in the 1830s, including the entire Cherokee Nation. It is part of the National Trails System.
The Trail of Tears is the name given to the route followed by members of the Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek), Seminole, Chickasaw, and Choctaw nations as they were forcibly relocated from their homelands in the eastern United States to present-day eastern Oklahoma. The forced migrations were carried out by the U.S. government in the 1830s, in order to clear the land for white settlers. Those who walked on the Trail of Tears suffered from disease, starvation and death; 2,000-6,000 of 16,542 relocated Cherokee died on the trail. The Trail of Tears National Historic Trail commemorates their route and this tragic series of events.
The five tribes that were relocated also owned black slaves, and would bring their slaves with them on the Trail of Tears. These slaves were frequently mistreated by their masters, and were for the most part subject to even more brutal conditions than the Native Americans themselves.
The Trail of Tears encompasses several routes and destinations through the states of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Illinois, Kentucky, Missouri, North Carolina, Oklahoma, and Tennessee. Maps of the trail can be found here.
There are several parks and historic sites along the trail routes that commemorate and mark the trail.