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El Camino Real de California: A Hiker's Guide to the California Mission Trail

El Camino Real de California: A Hiker's Guide to the California Mission Trail [Paid] 2015-04-24

No permission to buy ($5.99)


Camino(s) past & future
HI! I'm about to embark on my first Camino de Santiago next Saturday and I am already thinking that I might NEED to do this Camino next Summer haha. I went to UCSB and would love to hike the 267 miles from SD to SB and spend some time in my beloved Santa Barbara before maybe continuing North a bit. Out of curiosity, how long did it take you to walk from SD to SB? Thank you so much for time!

Buen Camino!


New Member
Camino(s) past & future
El Camino Real de California
Camino Frances (2017)
I live just north of Santa Barbara in Buellton between Mission Santa Inez and Mission la Purisima.

I did the entire Mission Trail in sections and used the Amtrak to get me to and from my start and end points. If you follow the Mission Trail the way I have it laid out in the book, it will take you 16 days to reach Santa Barbara from San Diego doing it as a through-hike with no days off. This is about 17 miles per day, but I also describe options for splitting the days up into shorter hikes by adding additional travel days. If you look at the free sample that Amazon offers on-line for the book, you will see a section called "Camino Statistics" which has a table of the days and mileage estimates between each of the 21 missions.

I liked the southern section the best because it has much more infrastructure than the central section. It also has a lot of beach and off-road and/or segregated bike trails than either the central or northern sections. Once you get north of Santa Barbara, the Mission Trail becomes more challenging because it becomes so rural and lodging is more difficult to find so there are fewer options for shortening the days. Also, the stretch between Paso Robles and Soledad is best done in the winter or spring because of heat and limited infrastructure, particularly between Mission San Miguel and Mission San Antonio. The mountains to the west of Mission San Antonio near Big Sur block air flow to that valley and it is not uncommon for temperatures to climb over 100 degrees.

I suggest you join our Facebook group called California Mission Walkers (http://goo.gl/G5kf8j). Folks there are really friendly and offer a lot of advice and real time updates from people currently hiking it. It's a closed group, so you need to request permission, but no one has ever been turned down. Here are some additional free resources you might want to check out (a cut and paste from my book).

California Mission Walkers (http://goo.gl/G5kf8j): A Facebook group for people hiking the California missions. It is a closed group which means you need permission to join the group. It is a great forum for those seeking advice on routes and planning. You can contact the group leaders by email: californiamissionwalkers@gmail.com.

Walking El Camino Real de California (http://goo.gl/KGqNpf): An open Facebook group for mission hikers with general information on the missions and the El Camino Real.

On a mission: Hiker gains ample aches and insights along 800-mile trek on California’s El Camino Real (http://goo.gl/hlPHm1): An article by Maggie Espinosa published in the San Diego Union-Tribune on January 3, 2015. A wonderful article in which she describes her personal journey of discovery in completing the ECRT.

Walk California's El Camino Real (http://goo.gl/AJfmk1): A website by Stephanie Dodaro with useful background, route suggestions, and resources for hiking the El Camino Real. Stephanie is one of the early hikers completing the ECRT.

Edie’s Mission Walk (http://goo.gl/iO5WrX): A Facebook page chronicling one women’s celebration of life. Having survived six years with late-stage cancer, she decided to celebrate her victory by walking the 850 mile El Camino Real. A very touching story.

Notes from the road (http://goo.gl/w8C1YG): One man’s experience hiking the El Camino Real in 53 days with many interesting photos.

California Coastal Trail (http://goo.gl/GGcUXc): A comprehensive web site dedicated to hiking the CCT and to furthering its development. It is a useful resource for those sections of the ECRT that coincide with the CCT.

Mission Walk HD (https://goo.gl/Q4rnHR): Here's a video scrapbook put together by my good friend Maggie Espinosa from her journey to the 21 Missions. Maggie is a travel writer living in San Diego. She and I shared many, many miles together hiking the missions.

Buen Camino, or as we say on the Mission Trail, Siempre adelante! - A quote from Father Sera, Always forward!

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