In San Antonio don’t just do the Alamo but also its four sister missions! You don’t need a car, you can do by Bus, Bike or even foot. It is only a few miles from one end to the other. You can start at the most famous, The Alamo, of at the furthest from Downtown, Mission Espada.
The San Antonio Missions Hike and Bike Trail is a linear park running along the San Antonio River. This park runs for miles and miles from Blue Star arts complex all the way down along the mission trail. The wide path easily accommodates bikers, joggers, strollers, and critter crossing! There is good signage along the way letting you know where things are. Important things like the nearest drinking fountains or where the rest rooms are. There’s always all kinds of wildlife along this trail. It’s hard not to run into long necked birds or turtles swimming around. There’s plenty of things to stop and look at long the way. This trail connects a long list of parks. Most of the ride is off the road, so no worries about traffic. It’s mainly flat with little to no major hills. The trail has connectors to all of the missions.
You will be hard pressed not too be touched by the age & beauty of these living Churches & Grounds. Several sites are currently operating as parishes for descendants of the native people. Several sites are currently operating as parishes for descendants of the native people and the local communities.
Recognized by the UN as a world heritage site in 2016, the missions are a key part of San Antonio’s history. Originally established as protective locations for native people the missions taught Spanish, agriculture and Catholicism to the original inhabitants. The missions of San Antonio are a main factor in the history of Texas and the core of the development of the city of San Antonio. In 1983, the San Antonio Missions National Historical Park was established.
Founded in 1690 as San Francisco de los Tejas near present-day Weches, Texas, this was the first mission in Texas. In 1731, the mission moved to the San Antonio River area and renamed Mission San Francisco de la Espada. The church was completed in 1756.
Mission San Juan was relocated in 1731 to its present location. In 1756, the stone church, a friary, and a granary were completed. A larger church was begun, but was abandoned when half complete. Mission San Juan was a self-sustaining community, within the compound, Indian artisans produced iron tools, cloth, and prepared hides. Orchards and gardens outside the walls provided melons, pumpkins, grapes, and peppers. Outside the mission walls native American farmers cultivated maize (corn), beans, squash, sweet potatoes, and sugar cane in fields irrigated by a system of aqueducts.
Mission San José, known as the “Queen of the Missions” is the largest and most fully
restored of the San Antonio Missions. It was restored in the 1930’s by the Works Progress Administration (WPA). A “New Deal” project to provide work to citizens in the Great Depression.
Of course, the last mission at the North end, is the most famous, The Alamo. The Alamo began its existence as Mission San Antonio de Valero. Founded in 1718 near the headwaters of the San Antonio River, the mission served several purposes. First, Spain needed settlements to defend against French encroachment into Texas.
At Mission Concepción you can visit the oldest unrestored church in the United States. Dedicated in 1755, it appears much as it did 0ver 200 years ago.
The Mission Trail is a great family outing either hiking or biking. The trail is wide and easy. I would recommend this as a mid to late Spring or mid to late Fall hike. I only say that because in the heat of summer, it would be HOT. Little of the trail is shaded and that might make a summer outing not as enjoyable.