The storyline of "Broken Trail" follows a man and his nephew as they team up to drive horses for sale across the country. The duo encounter a variety of unique individuals on their journey, including a group of Chinese girls and a hired killer named "Big Ears."
The plot of "Broken Trail" follows Prentice Ritter, a cowboy played by Robert Duvall, He sets out to inform his nephew, Tom Harte, played by Thomas Hayden Church, that this estranged mother has died. Prentice also reveals that he is the recipient of Tom's mother's property, though he feels it should rightfully be Tom's. As a compromise, Prentice urges Tom to journey across the country with him to sell 500 inherited horses. He also promises to give Tom 25 percent of the profit, to which Tom agrees.
Early in their journey, Prentice and Tom rescue a group of five Chinese prostitutes from a man named Billy Fender. The travelers soon run afoul of Ed "Big Ears" Bywaters, a notorious criminal who is determined to take the girls for himself. They eventually defeat Ed and his gang, with Prentice beating Ed to death with a heavy mallet. At the end of the story, Tom marries Sun Fu, one of the Chinese girls, and Prentice retires to live in peace.