The National Park Service manages the Juan Bautista
de Anza National Historic Trail in partnership with agencies, organizations
and private landowners in California and Arizona.
The national trail starts in Nogales, Arizona, and travels
to San Francisco, California, and east around the San Francisco
Bay for a distance of 1,200 miles. Each year, thousands of visitors
relive a portion of the epic story that tells of the first overland
colonizing expedition from Mexico to California.
It was in 1776 that Commander Anza led a group of almost 300 settlers,
soldiers, and their families across the Sonoran and Colorado Deserts
in search of a better way of life along the edge of the Spanish
Empire. These settlers to Alta, California, represented a broad
range of the ethnic groups and cultures that lived along the Spanish
frontier. Coming mostly from what is now northern Mexico, these
first non-indigenous settlers to California were descended from
Spanish settlers, Indian groups from Mexico, and freed African slaves
that had migrated across New Spain. This melting pot of cultures
marked a new page of history for San Francisco in 1776.
Today, visitors to the Anza Trail follow in the footsteps
of these early pioneers. They hike the hundreds of miles of recreational
trail that follow the historic route. Others explore history by
visiting the dozens of historical sites and missions that are associated
with the Anza Trail. Still others explore the rural trail segments
on horse back or on mountain bikes in landscapes that have stayed
virtually the same since the Anza expedition. No matter where they
go or what they do on the trail, visitors today feel and see the
legacy of the descendants of this epic story.
- Over half of the members of the Anza Expedition were children
- none of whom died during the nine-month expedition from Tubac
to San Francisco.
- Today, visitors to the trail can hike, ride, or bike on almost
300-miles of recreational route along the Anza Trail.
- Over two-dozen different state parks and five national parks
partner with the Anza Trail to manage and interpret segments of
the historical route.
- Anza and the expedition's priest wrote extensive daily journals
describing the many different Native American tribes they interacted
with along the way. Today, they offer a colorful picture of life
in California and Arizona at the end of the 18th century.
- Get away from the roar of traffic and discover a little bit
of wilderness along the Anza Trail in downtown Los Angeles. The
Anza Trail follows the Los Angeles River for five miles and then
the Rio Honda for another seven as they meander through the city.
An 80-yard long mural depicting the Anza Expedition as well as
images from the local indigenous tribe adorns the walls of the
flood canal along the trail as it passes by Griffith Park. This
is a particularly lush segment of the river corridor as artesian
springs have broken into the river channel, creating a dense canopy
of cottonwoods, willows, and California fan palms. Shorebirds
and other aquatic life are visible along this completely accessible
segment of the trail. Bikers, hikers, and equestrians are all
welcome along this segment of the trail corridor.
- The Anza Trail passes through Santa Monica Mountains National
Recreation Area a 150,050 acre recreation area on U.S. Highway
101. An off-road recreational route for the Anza Trail is marked
within the park. It includes the Native American Culture Center
at Satwiwa, the Satwiwa Native American Indian Natural Area and
Rancho Sierra Vista. For more information contact Santa Monica
Mountains National Recreation Area, 805-370-2300.
- Channel Islands National Park: Off U.S. Highway 101 in the vicinity
of the Ventura Marina. The visitor center is located along the
coast where the Anza expedition traveled. It provides interpretation
of the Chumash culture and may provide interpretation of the Anza
expedition in the future. For more information call the Channel
Islands National Park at 805-658-5700.
- Hikers and bikers in the Bay Area can take the local BART train
right to the beginning of a particularly pleasant segment of the
Anza Trail. Running from Bay Point to Oakley, this 17-mile segment
of the trail, coined the Delta de Anza, follows irrigation canals
and takes users through orchards, vineyards, and pastureland east
of San Francisco. The trail segment here is fully accessible and
can be used year round.
- The southern Arizona segment of the Anza Trail from the border
in Nogales to Tucson offers a tremendous number of different venues
to explore the trail. The National Park Service has developed
rural trail segments on private property along the Santa Cruz
River corridor. Traveling north along the river, the six-miles
of trail from Tumacacori National Historical Park to the state
park at Tubac Presidio is exceptionally good for bird watching.
These segments are primarily for hikers and equestrians. Farther
north, as the river channel enters Tucson, miles of paved trail
along the river channel are completely accessible and open to
all users. The best time to visit all of these Arizona segments
is from the fall to the spring to avoid the summertime heat.
- Tumacacori National Historical Park is located 18 miles north
of Nogales, Arizona or 45 miles south of Tucson on Interstate
19. Dating from 1691, this mission (now a national park) hosted
Father Font for several days while Anza completed preparations
for his colonizing expedition at Tubac Presidio. Call the Tumacacori
National Historical Park for more information, 520-398-2341.
The National Park Service is working with Mexico's Instituto
Nacional de Historia y Antropologí (INAH) to define and interpret
the Anza Trail in the Mexican states of Sinaloa, Sonora, and Baja
California Norte. This winter, INAH and the NPS will mark portions
of the Anza Trail in Baja California and begin to distribute guides
in Spanish for the Mexican portion of the trail. Eventually, trail
visitors will be able to drive the Anza Trail auto route following
a continuous trail that takes them through both countries along