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Hiking and Cycling the California Missions Trail

From Sonoma to San Diego

Guidebook to walking and cycling the 800 mile (1289km) California Missions Trail between San Francisco Bay and San Diego. The pilgrimage trail takes in 21 historic Spanish missions and can be completed in 50-60 walking days or 2-3 weeks cycling. With 1:100,000 mapping, route description and details of accommodation and facilities for each stage.


California's moderate coastal weather allows virtually a 12-month season, with no freezing temperatures or snow on the route. Watch for high summer heat in inland valleys and fog near the coast.


Metropolitan San Francisco, Los Angeles and San Diego; the seaside towns of Santa Cruz, Monterey, Carmel, Santa Barbara, Carlsbad and Solana Beach


This route is suitable for all levels of walkers, with no special gear necessary. Cyclists can cover 95% of the route on conventional or electric-assist street bikes, but mountain bikes are advised for a few specific mountain paths.

Must See

The trail visits 21 California missions, historic landmarks along this epic adventure that crosses the Golden Gate Bridge, traverses coastal mountain ranges, hugs the Pacific coast through charming beach towns like Santa Cruz, Santa Barbara and Carlsbad, and crosses vast farmlands in the Salinas Valley, the 'Salad Bowl of America'.
16 Jan 2023
15 Mar 2023
17.20 x 11.60 x 1.80cm

A guidebook to walking or cycling the California Missions Trail. The 802 mile (1291km) pilgrimage route from Sonoma to San Diego links 21 Christian missions founded by the Spanish over 200 years ago. It can be enjoyed by walkers of all abilities, or alternatively, 95% of the route is also suitable for road bikes.

The Missions Trail is described in 20 stages of between 16 and 60 miles (26–97km), with alternative options for cyclists. It can be walked in 50–60 days or cycled in 12–20 days.

  • GPX files available to download
  • 1:100,000 mapping plus larger-scale town maps for key locations
  • Handy route summary tables and pilgrim lodging listings help you plan your itinerary
  • Detailed information about refreshments and facilities along the route
  • Advice on planning and preparation
  • The history of the missions, as well as the story of the Native Americans who originally shaped the landscape

Table of Contents
The Reverend Sandy Brown Cicerone author SBROWN

By The Reverend Sandy Brown

Sanford 'Sandy' Brown is a long-distance walker and ordained minister who lives in Lucca, Italy. He was born in California and his great-grandparents migrated to San Juan Capistrano from Mexico in the 19th century. Inspired by The Pilgrimage by Paulo Coelho, he trekked the Camino de Santiago in 2008 and since then has walked over 15,000km on pilgrim trails in Europe and the U.S. He records his pilgrim adventures in his popular blog at In 2020, Sandy joined Cicerone Press as Associate Publisher for Caminos and Pilgrimages.

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