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.


Event cancelled due to heavy rains. To be rescheduled later in the year.
Black Diamond Mines Hike
Saturday, March 24, 2018, 9:00 AM - 4:00 PM

Travel back in time with the NorCal Chapter to the 1800s at the Black Diamond Mines Regional Preserve to visit the remnants of several mining towns where nearly four million tons of coal (black diamonds) were extracted. On this Figure 8 hike, the first loop of about 5.5 miles (1,253 ft. elevation gain) takes us past the Nortonville Townsite where well see interesting mining features along the Black Diamond Trail. After our lunch break near the Somersville Townsite, well tackle the second loop of about 3.5 miles (541 ft. elevation gain) along the River View Trail for panoramic views of the Delta and the northern face of Mt. Diablo. Well hike through wooded forests and open grasslands and likely bump into grazing cattle and maybe even sheep on fire prevention duty keeping the vegetation trimmed. 

Meet us at 9:00 AM for sign-in and briefing at the Somersville Staging Area through the main park entrance, past the Park Office Staging Area. We expect to arrive back at the staging area by 4:00 PM. Open to all (members and non-members). Led by Chapter members William Donovan and Guy Joaquin. No RSVP required. If cancelled by weather, an update will be made 48 hours in advance. 

Getting There: The main park entrance is located at 5175 Somersville Road in Antioch. From eastbound Highway 4, take the Somersville Road exit, then drive south (toward the hills) on Somersville Road. 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 Pittsburg/Bay Point BART station

What to Bring: Water, snacks, a bag lunch and sun protection. Because of the hilly terrain, hiking/trail shoes and poles are highly recommended. 

Level of Difficulty: 2B (6 to less-than-10 miles; 1,000 to less-than-2,000 ft elevation gain). Total combined distance is about 9 miles with an elevation again of about 1,253 feet. Please consider that this is a fairly rigorous hike with several steep ascents and descents, some along single-track trails.

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 03/22/18