Northern California Chapter

The regional chapter for Northern California, centered on the San Francisco Bay Area, was established in January 2011. Broadly stated, the purpose of this local chapter is to keep members connected to the Camino and to introduce new people to the phenomenon.  We accomplish this in a number of ways, such as social events, walks, mentoring future pilgrims and serving as a local host for hospitalero training through American Pilgrims.

NorCal Chapter events will be listed here and on our Facebook group. If you live in the area, request to join the group at:

We can also pair you with an experienced pilgrim who can answer your questions on how to prepare and what to expect. Contact chapter coordinators Laurie Ferris and Guy Joaquin at to be added to the NorCal chapter email list or to be connected with a mentor.


Diablo Foothills Hike
Saturday, May 19, 2018, 8:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Looking to do some Camino training? Curious what a 20k (kilometer) day is like? How about testing out your pole skills? Then this hike with the Northern California Chapter might be for you. Starting in Shell Ridge Open Space, we'll take the Briones to Mt. Diablo Regional Trail and skirt through Diablo Foothills Regional Park before entering Mt. Diablo State Park. Sticking to the foothills, we'll tackle a series of up & downs with elevation gains of up to 500 feet, covering about 11 miles. After lunch, we'll loop back with a visit to Old Borges Ranch. With native oaks and rolling hills the entire way, we'll also pass some interesting rock formations maybe under the watchful eyes of hawks and foxes. 

Get an early rise and meet us by 8:30 AM for sign-in and briefing at the Shell Ridge Open Space trailhead at the end of Marshall Drive in Walnut Creek. Indian Valley Elementary School at 551 Marshall Dr. ( is located adjacently. We expect to arrive back at the trailhead around 4:00 PM. Led by chapter coordinator, Guy Joaquin. No RSVP required. 

Getting There 
By Car: From northbound 680 (after the 680/24 interchange), take the Ygnacio Valley Rd. exit in Walnut Creek. Turn right onto Ygnacio Valley Rd. and head east. Turn right onto Homestead Ave. then left onto Marshall Dr. From southbound 680, take the N. Main St. exit in Walnut Creek. Turn right onto N. Main St. and head south. Turn left onto Ygnacio Valley Rd. and continue with the same directions above. There is free, street parking at the trailhead and surrounding neighborhood. 

Carpooling: If you want a ride or can give one, post a message to this event listed on our Facebook Group page. Suggested meeting point is the Walnut Creek BART station. (Alert: There is major construction at the station. Here's info and a map on the New Passenger Pick-up/Drop-off Area. It may be helpful to exchange cell phone numbers beforehand to locate each other.) 

Public Transportation: Unfortunately, there is no bus line serving the immediate area. 

What to Bring: A bag lunch, snacks, plenty of water, hiking poles are recommended and a hat/sun protection as there is little shade along the path. It could be quite warm to hot already at this time. Also, there are no restrooms or water available at the trailhead. The first facilities will be at the lunch stop ~3 hours after departure. Please plan accordingly. 

Level of Difficulty: 3A (10 to less than 15 miles, less than 1,000 ft elevation gain). This is a moderately difficult hike at about 11 miles with several hills to climb and descend.

First Saturday of the month, Convene 10:30 AM, Depart 10:30 AM
Meeting point: Lake Merritt Pergola, 599 El Embarcadero, Oakland, California 94610
This is an informal gathering that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. The group meets at the Lake Merritt Pergola on the east side of Oakland's Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and starts walking promptly at 10:45 AM. It's a level walk 3.3 miles around the lake and takes about an hour. If you decide to join one of these walks, make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking as there are many activities Saturday mornings in the Lake Merritt area. We walk in a clockwise direction around the lake, so if you are running late, you can catch up with the group.

There is an optional brunch after the walk for those interested in gathering with other pilgrims to talk about the Camino. It would be a good idea to bring cash to pay.

To RSVP, join the NorCal Chapter Facebook Group, Peregrinos Northern California and click on the Events tab. Look for "Lake Merritt Walk + Brunch" and click Join.


The Northern California chapter of American Pilgrims on the Camino held its annual Welcome Home celebration event on November 11th, 2017 in Oakland.  This year’s program included short presentations on Camino routes “beyond the francés.” 
10×10 Camino Presentations (PDF)

2017 Pilgrim Blessing and Spring Potluck

Resource documents:
Getting Started on the Camino de Santiago
• Packing for the Camino
• Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino
• Camino Websites
Leave No Trace: Ethics for the Camino

Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 1
Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 2 
Scott Williams Injury Prevention Tips for the Camino: Part 3 

CaminoFlix Lending Library - an exclusive program for APOC members:
Among the many benefits of American Pilgrims membership, NorCal chapter members are eligible to borrow DVDs and other items from our CaminoFlix Library for free. Learn more at: CaminoFlixLibrary.pdf.

Hike Rating System:

The Northern California Chapter uses the system below to rate our hikes. A rating consists of a number that corresponds to the total estimated distance in miles of the hike and a letter that corresponds to the total estimated elevation gain for the day. Generally speaking, there will be an equal amount of descent.

Distance                                       Elevation Gain
  1: Less than 6 miles                      A: Less than 1,000 feet
  2: 6 to less than 10 miles             B: 1,000 to less than 2,000 feet
  3: 10 to less than 15 miles           C: 2,000 to less than 3,000 feet
  4: 15 to less than 20 miles           D: 3,000 to less than 4,000 feet
  5: 20 or more miles                      E: 4,000 or more feet
As an example, a hike of 8 miles and an elevation gain of 1,200 feet would be rated as “2B.” In some cases, hikes may also have a size limitation and/or special conditions. Do not hesitate to contact us at, if you have questions about the level of difficulty or conditions of a hike.

Member Camino blogs and websites:
• Laurie Ferris maintains a blog dedicated to planning for the Camino and sharing stories about the pilgrim's journey. You'll find her Camino Portugués and Inglés travelogues at
• San Franciscan Mike Miller has written a blog about his Camino experiences. The Camino portugués in the spring of 2014, Camino francés in the spring of 2015, and Camino primitivo in the fall of 2016 and 2017. His blog address is

To stay connected you should consider joining the NorCal Chapter Facebook Group, Peregrinos Northern CaliforniaAlso you can visit American Pilgrims on the Camino on Facebook for great dialogue, photos and a running commentary about the Camino from like-minded pilgrims around the country.

Rev 05/01/18