Housing / Land Use

Pinnacles Gateway Partners welcome de Anza Trail superintendent

Naomi Torres discusses the historic route that passes through San Juan Bautista.
Entrance to Juan Bautista de Anza Trail on Old Stage Road in San Juan Bautista.
Entrance to the Juan Bautista de Anza Trail on Old Stage Road in San Juan Bautista.

At the May 15 meeting of the Pinnacles Gateway Partners, Juan Bautista de Anza National Historic Trail Superintendent Naomi Torres spoke about the trail’s past, present and future.

Established in 1990 as part of the National Trails System, the de Anza Trail consists of 1,200 miles in the United States and 600 miles in Mexico. Travelers make their way along the route on foot, bicycle and horse, and at times even by car and train. Some of the trail goes through public lands like state parks; it is also part of the Bay Area Ridge Trail.

The portion in San Juan Bautista is a five-mile track that starts at Stagecoach Road and travels up to Fremont Peak State Park. Locals enjoy the hike year-round and several events take place there during the year, including the annual mid-spring moonlight walk hosted by REACH San Benito Park Foundation and BenitoLink.

With infectious enthusiasm, Torres recounted the history of the 1775-1776 de Anza Party’s journey from Culiacán in New Spain (Mexico), through Arizona to the San Francisco Bay in Alta, California to establish a mission and presidio. In doing so, Torres said, they brought a worldview different from the prevailing cultures of the peoples living in those lands. The party forged a new dynamic that changed the lands forever.

These days the trail is understaffed. Torres said she hoped to bring in more staff soon to work with local communities and help bring the trail to everyone; make more parts of the trail open to the public; and work with indigenous people and the American Indian Alaska Native Tourism Association to bring their perspective.

Torres spoke of the importance of keeping the history in our thoughts of the present and future.

“We acknowledge all of these layers of history and how it impacted different people,” she said, adding that her goal is to eventually have the entire trail open as public land.

Journals kept by Juan Bautista de Anza and Father Pedro Font as they traveled the trail are here.



Carmel de Bertaut

Carmel has a BA in Natural Sciences/Biodiversity Stewardship from San Jose State University and an AA in Communications Studies from West Valley Community College. She reports on science and the environment, arts and human interest pieces. Carmel has worked in the ecological and communication fields and is an avid creative writer and hiker. She has been reporting for BenitoLink since May, 2018 and covers Science and the Environment and Arts and Culture.