An initiative is underway to develop the California Missions Trail, an 800-mile walking and cycling route that connects the 21 Missions from Sonoma to San Diego. To walk this route of the missions is a journey in time that begins with the footsteps of the Native Americans, traces historical expeditions, and continues today with pilgrims, hikers, and bikers. This footpath of the past, however, has been altered to accommodate human development, leaving a mission to mission pedestrian route, at best, informal. Those who wish to journey between missions have cobbled together a route of existing trails, sidewalks, and roads, relying either on their own navigational tools or anecdotes from previous users.
To achieve our goal, we are forming the California Missions Trail Alliance (CMTA), a cross-boundary, multi-county coalition, that will lay the groundwork for a sustainable heritage trail that captures the present-day enthusiasm for walking and cycling holidays, as well as being complementary to the motorized route made popular at the dawn of the automobile age.
It is anticipated that through regional chapters, the CMTA will certify trail segments and provide a platform for the state, regional, and local governments, private landowners, organizations, corporations, and individuals to create and advocate for a continuous and unified recreational trail tied together by 21 California Missions.
Following this incredible journey through California’s past and present is spiritual for some, inspirational for others, and educational for all. In its own way, each reach of the trail celebrates the beauty of the California landscape, increases visitor awareness of American Indian and Spanish Colonial history and culture, and promotes tourism-based economic development.