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First Annual Saint Junipero Serra Walking Pilgrimage

Santa Barbara Mission to San Buenaventura Mission Basilica
24-25 July 2021
35 miles


Come join us in honoring the life and holiness of St. Junipero Serra by walking in his footsteps along El Camino Real (The Royal Road) for this first annual event.  This 35 mile stretch of the California Mission Trail is considered one of the most beautiful and pleasant mission-to-mission treks.  The route for the pilgrimage was selected to balance safety, beauty, and the opportunity for a public witness to our faith and the goodness of our beloved saint and "father of California."  This event is fully supported with your camping gear transported, a following support vehicle, meals supplied along the way, and hydration and snack breaks provided.  This allows you to focus on the beauty of your surroundings, prayer, singing, camaraderie, and time with the friars and priests as you walk.  We will be camping in Carpinteria at St. Joseph's Church with an evening meal, Eucharistic Adoration time, confession, and singing around the campfire.


Even if you are not planning to walk the entire 2 days, all are welcome to join us for any part of the trip.  We especially recommend the departure from Mission Santa Barbara down State Street to the ocean at the foot of the pier, approximately 3 miles of gentle downhill walking.  We also recommend joining us for the final walk and glorious procession from Surfers Point through downtown Ventura to the San Buenaventura Mission.


Only those officially registered will have access to the meals provided. For more pilgrimage details see FAQ.

Our chaplain is Fr. Nathan Cromly, CSJ of Eagle Eye Ministries. We will be joined by Franciscan Friars of the Renewal from their new friary in Oakland, San Junipero Serra Friary!


The Pilgrimage

Two glorious days of walking in the footsteps of St. Junipero Serra along the route of the historic and iconic El Camino Real.
24-25 July 2021


Day one starts at the Santa Barbara Mission, whose exquisite beauty has earned it the title "Queen of the Missions." Mass will be offered at the Mission with the Franciscan Friars at 8 am and the pilgrimage will begin at 9:30 am. We will descend from Santa Barbara's Upper East, walking past the cloistered  Monastery of the Poor Clares and Our Lady of Sorrows Church before striking State Street for a promenade to the ocean past the shops and sidewalk cafes.  We reach the beach at the foot of the pier and the iconic dolphin fountain.  We will turn down coast on the bike and pedestrian trail among the towering palm trees.  Our first stop will be at the Cabrillo Pavillion with clean restrooms and water and snacks provided.  We will continue on the bike path along the "bird estuary" at the foot of the Santa Barbara Zoo, past the Santa Barbara Cemetery, and reconnect with the coast and descend off the scenic bluff top bike trail to the Butterfly Lane Beach.  We will continue past the storied Biltmore Hotel and wend our way among quiet neighborhood streets to Santa Ynez Rd. We will cross over the 101 freeway and turn right into quiet and shaded residential streets and parallel equestrian trail.

We will turn right onto Sheffield Dr. for a brief stretch before turning left at the Ortega Hill bike path.  Walkers will have the option of ascending on a relatively short and steep trail to the dramatic Pacific Ocean view at the top or continuing on the short bike path parallel to the 101 freeway.  The routes will converge again on the edge of downtown Summerland on Ortega Hill Rd.  We will continue another block to Evans Rd and turn right and pass under the 101 freeway again to Lookout Park on the bluffs above Summerland Beach.  Lunch will be provided there as we take an hour long lunch break.  The beach can be reached by a short path for those who may want to rest their feet in the surf.

After lunch we pass through the main commercial district of Summerland on Lillie Ave and turn right unto Padero Lane and cross back over to the ocean side of the freeway.  Padero Lane is a beautiful shaded lane that passes by many grand gated properties that have direct beach access.  It bends back under the freeway at Santa Claus Lane and ends at Via Real where we will turn right and walk past the greenhouses and nurseries of Carpinteria before the more densely settled areas of town.  We will turn right on Santa Ynez Ave and again cross over the 101 freeway and turn left on Carpinteria Ave and pass through the commercial district to Linden Ave.  For the last time of the day we will cross back over the freeway toward the mountains and walk four blocks to our destination for the night, St Joseph's Catholic Church.  

Hikers will retrieve their camping gear, which will have been transported, and set up their tents for the night.  Dinner will be served and there will be a Holy Hour with Eucharistic Adoration and confession. Fr. Nathan will speak on the life of St. Junipero Serra and evangelization.  The evening will end with singing around a camp fire and night prayer.



We will arise with the morning light, have breakfast, and break camp.  Gear will be transported to Ventura for later pick up.  We will proceed back over the freeway on Linden Ave and continue through the downtown to the beach.  We will turn left on the pedestrian trail at Carpinteria State Beach and follow 4th St through the campgrounds.  A Chumash Indian village once occupied this area and the modern city was named for the carpenter shop on the banks of the creek we will cross over.  Here the Chumash built their ocean going canoes from which they greeted the early Spanish explorers, including the Catholic missionaries.

As we continue down coast we will utilize the Carpinteria Bluff trail and pass by the Tar Pits Park and the Seal Sanctuary and enjoy the beautiful ocean and island views on the way to the Rincon Beach area.  Between the Hwy 150 overpass and the Bates Rd exit we will be on the wide shoulder of Hwy 101 south, a legal use due to the lack of alternatives.  We will have a rest stop at the Rincon State Beach parking lot with water and snacks.

We will enter the bike and pedestrian trail that runs right above the ocean and provides sea breezes and island views for 4 miles.  We will pass La Conchita and through Mussel Shoals. Conditions permitting, we may get a chance to walk for a stretch on the beach.  The trail ends at Pier Shoals Beach where we have a lunch break.  We next cross under the 101 freeway and strike the old Pacific Coast Highway, the iconic Highway 1.  We will be on the wide shoulder of this beachfront road for most of the way into Ventura, passing Hobson Beach, Faria Beach, Mondo's Beach, Solimar Beach and their corresponding beachfront communities and surf spots.  This stretch includes the Rincon Parkway, with prime ocean front RV camping space, providing a high level of exposure for our witness in the footsteps of St. Junipero Serra!
When we reach Emma Wood State Beach we will walk up the gentle slope to the bluff top, welcoming the shade of the Montery Pines and the view of Ventura before us.  This would be a great place for family and friends to join us for the last few miles to the Mission, bouying us with their fresh energy and encouraging us for the final push.  We will utilize the bike and pedestrian trail along the coast and bend under the freeway for the second to the last time. The trail then parallels Main St and crosses over the Ventura River before bending to the right and following the river out to its mouth and bending left to Surfer's Point.  We will process south from Surfers Point along the boardwalk to the Crowne Plaza Hotel.  We will turn left and head up California St. 3 blocks to Main St. where we turn left on the now pedestrian plaza and walk the final 3 blocks to enter the doors of the Mission to the joyous tolling of bells and wafts of incense!  Mass at the mission will be followed by a celebratory dinner. 

NB The route and itinerary are subject to changes.  Those will be posted as possible on this website.