Rodents move their whiskers to locate and identify objects. Cortical areas involved in vibrissal somatosensation and sensorimotor integration include the vibrissal area of the primary motor cortex (vM1), primary somatosensory cortex (vS1; barrel cortex), and secondary somatosensory cortex (S2). We mapped local excitatory pathways in each area across all cortical layers using glutamate uncaging and laser scanning photostimulation. We analyzed these maps to derive laminar connectivity matrices describing the average strengths of pathways between individual neurons in different layers and between entire cortical layers. In vM1, the strongest projection was L2/3→L5. In vS1, strong projections were L2/3→L5 and L4→L3. L6 input and output were weak in both areas. In S2, L2/3→L5 exceeded the strength of the ascending L4→L3 projection, and local input to L6 was prominent. The most conserved pathways were L2/3→L5, and the most variable were L4→L2/3 and pathways involving L6. Local excitatory circuits in different cortical areas are organized around a prominent descending pathway from L2/3→L5, suggesting that sensory cortices are elaborations on a basic motor cortex-like plan.