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.

Chapter events are listed here and on our Facebook group page. If you live in the area, request to join the group.

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 chapter email list or to be connected with a mentor.

Scheduled Events
St. James Day Celebration
Saturday, July 21, 10:30 AM - 4:00 PM

Help the Northern California Chapter celebrate St. James Day (a few days ahead of the official July 25 feast day) with a walk in San Francisco that begins near Ocean Beach and ends at the St. James Catholic Church in the Mission District. We will meet at the Streamline Café in the Sunset District and walk along Santiago Street and over to Mt. Davidson (the highest point in SF) where we will pause for lunch while we enjoy magnificent views of “The City.” After lunch, we will make our way through Glen Canyon Park, swing by Billy Goat Hill and meander through Noe Valley towards the Mission, arriving at the church around 3:45 PM. We will have some time to look around the church before the 4:15 PM vigil mass. You are welcome to attend the mass and pilgrim’s blessing (some of us did last year) or leave at that point. You can also head over to Esperpento Restaurant nearby on 22nd St. where we will regroup after the mass (~5:30 PM) for tapas and drinks to finish up the day in true Camino tradition. RSVP required (see below for instructions).

Meet us at 10:30 AM at the Streamline Café on the corner of 46th Ave. and Taraval St. for check-in and briefing. If you wish to have breakfast at the café, please arrive earlier (opens at 8 AM). We encourage all to use public transportation as both the start and end points are serviced by Muni and/or BART. Total distance is about 8 miles, mostly on sidewalks and paved paths with about 3 miles of trails and a 928-foot (280-meter) switchback climb up Mt. Davidson. We expect to finish the walk by 3:45 PM. Open to all. Led by chapter members Sue López and Merula Furtado.

RSVP required. To help us with planning, use our online RSVP page to respond by Thursday, July 19. Please, responses via the page only.

Getting to Streamline Café: Take BART to the Glen Park station. Exit and cross Bosworth St. to the corner with Diamond St. and catch the 23-Monterey bus towards the SF Zoo ($2.50 Clipper, $2.75 Cash; departs every 30 min). Get off at Sloat Blvd. and 45th Ave. Bus travel time is about 30 minutes. Walk west towards the beach, take a right on 46th Ave. and continue for four blocks (0.5 mi) to Taraval St. Here is a route map. NOTE: Our original directions were to take the L-Taraval train from downtown SF all the way to the café. However, due to construction, the route temporarily ends now at Church St. and continues on by bus. For info on this option, read the Muni alert. Of course, Uber and Lyft are also options

Getting back from Church/Esperpento: Use the 24th Street Mission BART station (0.5 mi away).

What to Bring: A day pack with water, snacks and a bag lunch. You can also pick up a sandwich at the café if you arrive early enough. Bring a jacket or sweater even if it is a sunny day as it is summer in San Francisco and it can be windy at the top of Mt. Davidson. Good hiking shoes are recommended and also hiking poles for the uphill trails, if you need them. If you plan on using poles on the pavement, please don't forget the rubber tips.

Level of Difficulty: 2A (6 to less-than-10 miles; less than 1,000 feet elevation gain

Feast of St. James Potluck
Wednesday, July 25, 6:00 - 8:00 PM

Join the Northern California Chapter for a pilgrim potluck to celebrate St. James on his designated saint’s day, July 25th. Because it falls on a Wednesday this year, we’re doing a casual gathering in the Gibson Center at Corpus Christi Catholic Church. Bring an entrée, side dish, tapas, dessert, or drinks to share. Bonus points for Camino-inspired or Spanish recipes, and drinks (wine, beer, non-alcoholic, etc.). Let this be a feast fit for a saint, or at least hungry pilgrims!

There will be a brief presentation about St. James and we'll toast to returning pilgrims and have a blessing for departing pilgrims. We'll also have our new chapter stamp available so bring your credential to get your official NorCal sello. And, the Wise Pilgrim Camino Map poster will be on display so you can plan your next Camino!

Corpus Christi is located at 322 St. James Drive on the corner of Park Blvd. in Oakland. A free parking lot is located at the Corpus Christi school behind the church at 1 Estates Drive. The Gibson Center is downstairs from the west side of the parking lot.

RSVP by June 23 on the Google RSVP Form, with guest name(s) and potluck item you plan to bring.

Ongoing Events
Lake Merritt Walks
First Saturday of the month, 10:30 AM - 12:00 PM

Join us on this walk that takes place on the first Saturday of the month, rain or shine. We meet at the Pergola (aka "The Columns") on the east side of Oakland's Lake Merritt at 10:30 AM and start walking by 10:45 AM. It's a level, 3.3-mile walk around the lake that takes about an hour. Whether you’re a newbie or Camino veteran, everyone is welcome. Bring your questions, answers and pilgrim spirit!

Directions: Take BART to the Lake Merritt or 19th Street Oakland station and navigate your way to the Pergola (~1.5 mi walk). If you drive, make sure to give yourself enough time to find parking, as there are many activities on Saturday mornings in the Lake Merritt area. FYI: There is a small fee lot at the corner of Euclid and Grand Avenues that is close to the Pergola. 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 our chapter Facebook Group page and go to the "Events" section. Look for "Lake Merritt Walk."

The program at our 2017 Welcome Home celebration included short "10x10" presentations on Camino routes “beyond the francés."

2017 Pilgrim Blessing and Spring Potluck

Other Resource Documents:


CaminoFlix Lending Library (an exclusive program for American Pilgrim members):
Among the many benefits of American Pilgrims membership, 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 with us, join our chapter Facebook Group page. You can also visit American Pilgrims on Facebook for great dialogue, photos and a running commentary about the Camino from like-minded pilgrims around the country.

Rev 07/19/18