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“Under-rated by most tourist guides” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Mission Trail

Mission Trail
San Antonio, TX (Far North Central)
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Ranked #15 of 328 things to do in San Antonio
Activities: Biking, Hiking
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Attraction details
Fee: No
Recommended length of visit: More than 3 hours
Owner description: A pedestrian route that starts at the Alamo and winds nine miles along the San Antonio River passing four other historical missions.
Kent, Washington
Top Contributor
137 reviews 137 reviews
31 attraction reviews
Reviews in 45 cities Reviews in 45 cities
95 helpful votes 95 helpful votes
“Under-rated by most tourist guides”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 7, 2010

This was listed under "Other Attractions" in most of the guidebooks I read, but I think this is a must-see in San Antonio. One of the Missions (San Jose) has been reconstructed to show the entire mission layout. The others have only the buildings that remain after nearly 300 years. All four have working Catholic churches. There is a visitor's center with an excellent orientation film and a museum. Each mission has explanatory displays. The missions are part of the National Parks Service. There is no public transportation to two of the missions, and the distances are too great for walking, so if you don't have a car and you want to see them all, and I highly recommend that you do, a tour is your only option. Even with a car, the route is not very well marked, and you could have a difficult time finding all the sites. We took a tour with Historic Texas Tours. They are smaller and more personal that the other tours offered in San Antonio. They have a 15 passenger van, so that is the maximum size of the group. It was only my husband and I and another couple on our tour. Shelly, our very friendly guide, has studied the history of the missions and had an amazing amount of information at her fingertips. She has a relationship with the NPS staff at each of the missions, and we got to see things that may not be available to other tour groups. She had no tour booked for the afternoon, so she stretched our 3 hour tour out to 4 hours to give us more time at each site. I wholeheartedly recommend Texas Historic Tours as a way to see the missions. We also went on the Foodie Tour with Shelly, and thoroughly enjoyed that too. Because they are small, if you are planning a trip during the busy season, I would recommend booking early so you don't miss the chance for these truly excellent tours.

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330 reviews from our community

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962 reviews 962 reviews
538 attraction reviews
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1,076 helpful votes 1,076 helpful votes
“A piece of Texas history”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed July 2, 2009

This is a worthwhile way to spend a few hours if you're ever in San Antonio and have some spare time. Most visitors flock to the Alamo and never venture out to see these other missions. They date back about 250 years and are in pretty good shape considering their age. They are part of the National Park Service and admission is free. However, unless you are in good shape and want the exercise, I would recommend driving instead of walking.

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Senior Contributor
44 reviews 44 reviews
4 attraction reviews
Reviews in 30 cities Reviews in 30 cities
25 helpful votes 25 helpful votes
“Something unique in San Antonio”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed January 4, 2009

The churches along this trail are unique and definitely worth a visit, even a short one. It's a quick drive from one church to another. The two most impressive ones are Mission Conception and Mission San Jose. It's amazing that such impressive structures could be built in the 1750's in the middle of nowhere. This attraction is unique to San Antonio and was a welcome break from the frantic scene at Seaworld and the Alamo Bowl.

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Senior Contributor
37 reviews 37 reviews
8 attraction reviews
Reviews in 21 cities Reviews in 21 cities
29 helpful votes 29 helpful votes
“Great Bike Ride”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 23, 2008

My husband and I just recently bicycled this trail from Mission San Jose to Espada to San Juan and then back to San Jose, where we parked our car. It is about 10 miles round trip and only a short portion from Espada to San Juan, if you wish to not back track on the previous trail, on a road. We enjoyed it immensely!

The surrounding area is ok....probably not the safest, but I never was fearful as the parking lot at San Jose seemed quite nice. I'd suggest going with a companion or group and not leaving valuables in your car.

San Antonio NEEDS to realize what a gem they have and try to protect and maintain these areas. Trash on the trail is somewhat of a problem as I didn't notice enough trash receptacles. Unfortunately, more and more people are not respecting our history and our beautiful parkland. At the time of our visit in early October 2008, Mission San Juan was closed due to recent vandalism. What a terrible shame!

A great driving and bicycle trail. Picnic tables were located at Mission Espada and, I believe, at the other Missions also so it's nice to eat outdoors and savor the beauty and peace.

You're welcome to view my photo album of our trip at this site:

I'd highly suggest doing this tour, via car or bicycle, on a cool day in the Spring or Fall. Summer with lack of shade could be pretty unbearable. Regardless, be sure to have water with you although there are water fountains and bathroom facilities at each mission.

After doing the round trip described above, we drove to Mission Concepcion as that would have added another 8-10 miles of round trip to our already 10 mile trip. Hopefully, soon the trail will be completed going north from San Jose to Concepcion and the Alamo and when so, we hope to do that loop starting at Mission San Jose. We prefer to ride on dedicated bike routes as we ride hybrid mountain bikes and going north, as of now, you have to ride on numerous roads.

But above all, please be respectful of these wonderful sites. Like the Alamo, these historic places demand our esteem not only for their history, but also for their functioning as still active churches.

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201 helpful votes 201 helpful votes
“great day trip”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 10, 2008

I wrote my review of this trail under San Antonio Missions National Historical Park. Sorry. If you love history, peace and nature you will enjoy the Missions. Rent a car. It is not walkable. Very easy drive.

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