This 2,044-acre area, which was purchased in 1988, takes its name from an old Indian trail running across the southeast portion of the area.
Under the Indian removal Act of 1830, the Cherokee were removed from their native lands in the southeastern United States and forcibly moved to Oklahoma. Peter Hilderbrand's detachment of 1,766 Cherokees separated from other groups in Crawford County and traveled through the White River Trace Area in March 1839. They later rejoined the main trail at Marshfield.
The White River Trace later became a major route for settlers traveling west. Nearby Mt. Hermon Cemetery began with graves of these early travelers.
White River Trace is about 80 percent open ground consisting mainly of native warm-season grasses and early successional plant types.
Management of the area has produced quality upland wildlife habitat, especially for bobwhite quail and other grassland bird species, such as grasshopper sparrows and dickcissels. This type of habitat is uncommon on the Salem plateau and the area provides a unique, recreational and wildlife viewing opportunity for this part of the state.
Before 1988, the property was used for a large beef cattle operation, resulting in little plant diversity, primarily fescue, and relatively poor wildlife habitat.