On the eve of the American Revolution, Spain sought to control the Pacific coast of today's United States against British and Russian incursions. Juan Bautista de Anza, a third-generation frontier soldier of New Spain, shepherded 198 emigrants and their escorts and 1,000 head of livestock on the first overland colonizing expedition from Sonora, Mexico into Alta, or Upper, California. This expedition led to the founding of the Presidio of San Francisco and missions San Francisco de Asís (Mission Dolores) and Santa Clara de Asís.
The national trail commemorates the route followed by
the Spanish commander in 1775-76. Along the trail route, the visitor can experience the varied landscapes similar to those the expedition saw; learn the stories of the expedition, its members, and descendants; better understand the American Indian role in the expedition and the diversity of their cultures; and appreciate the extent of the effects of Spanish colonial settlement of Arizona and California.
The National Park service offers a map
of the historic route and interpretive sites along the trail.