California Missions Trail Guidebook

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California is the star of the guidebook, The California Missions Trail: From Sonoma to San Diego. Jam-packed with all the information a walker or biker needs to know about this epic route, the full-color, official guide unveils this spectacular 800-mile route in all its glory — from its coastal mountain ranges, tall forests, and vast farms to its quaint towns, rugged coastline, and vibrant cities.

On the road to Mission San Antonio
Sandy Brown on the road to Mission San Antonio

Created in collaboration between Cicerone Press — one of the foremost publishers of outdoor guides in the world — and the California Mission Walkers, California Missions Foundation, and the Santa Barbara County Trails Council, the book features over eighty full-color maps, fifteen detailed city maps, twenty elevation profiles, over 100 accommodation listings, detailed walking and biking directions, and important historical and cultural information that tells the fascinating story of the places and people that made California what it is today.

With a collection of international pilgrim trekking guidebooks already to his credit, the book’s author, Sandy Brown, sees this volume, the California Missions Trail: From Sonoma to San Diego, as a way to celebrate his native state. Over 150 years ago, Sandy’s family emigrated from Mexico to California, settling at Mission San Juan Capistrano in Southern California, and Sandy spent his early childhood in the San Diego area. So far, this labor of love has led him on three journeys over the route’s entire span, accumulating over 2,400 miles on foot and by bicycle as part of his research. In the fall of 2023, Sandy will cycle from Sonoma to San Diego.


CMT BookcoverThe route begins in Sonoma, a site important to California history and home to the newest of the twenty-one Missions from the Spanish era. From there it is organized in a southbound, Mission-to-Mission format. Hotel, hostel, and camping information is provided at walkable or bikeable intervals. As it guides the walker along the way, the book shares background information about geology, Indian history and culture, first contact with Europeans, the Spanish and Mexican eras, the inclusion of California into the United States, and much, much more. As the route spans its 800-mile scope along sidewalks, bike trails, country roads, highways, and dirt pathways of California, readers have at their fingertips all they need to have an unforgettable deep, rich, and rewarding experience.

Table of Contents:

  • General Introduction — what makes the California Missions Trail special
  • History of California 
  • Planning your walk or ride
  • Where to begin? How do I get there?
  • Where to end? How do I get back?
  • When to walk?
  • Where to stay?
  • What to eat?
  • How many days should I allow for the walk?
  • How to prepare and pack
  • How to use this guidebook
  • Section 1: Sonoma to Santa Cruz | Bay Area
    • Stage 1: Sonoma to San Rafael
    • Stage 2: San Rafael to San Francisco
    • Stage 3: San Francisco to San Jose (Fremont)
    • Stage 4: San Jose (Fremont) to Santa Clara
    • Stage 5: Santa Clara to Santa Cruz
  • Section 2: Santa Cruz to San Miguel | North Central Coast
    • Stage 6: Santa Cruz to San Juan Bautista
    • Stage 7: San Juan Bautista to Carmel
    • Stage 8: Carmel to Soledad
    • Stage 9: Soledad to San Antonio de Padua
    • Stage 10: San Antonio de Padua to San Miguel
  • Section 3: San Miguel to Ventura | South Central Coast
    • Stage 11: San Miguel to San Luis Obispo
    • Stage 12: San Luis Obispo to La Purisima (Lompoc)
    • Stage 13: La Purísima (Lompoc) to Santa Ines (Solvang)
    • Stage 14: Santa Ines (Solvang) to Santa Barbara
    • Stage 15: Santa Barbara to Ventura
  • Section 4: Ventura to San Diego | South Coast
    • Stage 16: Ventura to San Fernando
    • Stage 17: San Fernando to San Gabriel
    • Stage 18: San Gabriel to San Juan Capistrano
    • Stage 19: San Juan Capistrano to San Luis Rey (Oceanside)
    • Stage 20: San Luis Rey (Oceanside) to San Diego
  • Appendix A Stage planning tables
  • Appendix B Useful contacts, links, and apps
  • Appendix C Bibliography and further reading

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