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 [email protected] to be added to the chapter email list or to be connected with a mentor.

You can always contact us through [email protected] to find out what we're up to!

Welcome Home Potluck
Saturday, November 10, 2018, 10:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Help us celebrate this year’s returning pilgrims at our annual Welcome Home Potluck. We’ll be gathering at St. Augustine Catholic Church in Oakland, near the border with Berkeley. To start us off, Emilio Escudero will lead a session on returning home that focuses on “unpacking” the psychological and spiritual aspects (the “intangibles”) of the Camino. He’ll share a strategy for reflecting on your experience and keeping those things you want in your life going forward. After lunch, we’ll take our Camino “Class of” photos and returnees will have an opportunity to introduce themselves and share a little about their experience. Doors open at 9:30 AM and we plan to finish up by 3:00 PM. If you can help with setting up, meet us at 9:00 AM. We also need help with cleaning up afterwards. All are welcome (paid members and non-members).

RSVP: To help us with planning, a response is required. Use our online RSVP page to respond  by Thursday, November 8. Please, responses via the online page only.

GETTING THERE: By Car: Use Google Maps or your favorite map app for directions. St. Augustine is located at 400 Alcatraz Ave. off of College Ave. in Oakland. The church is on the right side between Dana and Colby Streets when heading west towards the bay and the parking lot entrance is on the left side of the building. Meet us on the bottom floor of the gym/multi-use building across the courtyard on the right side of the church (follow our yellow arrows). By BART/Bus/Foot: From the Rockridge BART station, take AC Transit bus 51B towards the Berkeley campus and offboard at College/Alcatraz (15 min). Walk west on Alcatraz Ave. to St. Augustine (0.3 mi). To walk from the station, head north along College Ave. towards campus and turn left on Alcatraz Ave. (0.7 mi).

WHAT TO BRING: Your favorite dish or drink to share. Extra points for something from the Camino. Wine counts, too! Here's a request to cover our bases: If your last name begins with A-P, bring a food dish (main, side, salad with serving utensils). If it begins with Q-Z, bring a dessert or beverage (coffee will be provided). We’ll have 3x5 index cards on hand to make a label for your dish.

BE GREEN! We encourage you to bring your own plates, cups and utensils to help us to minimize trash and reduce costs on disposable items. There is a kitchen to wash items after use.

EL RASTRO: El Rastro is a gigantic flea market in Madrid. We’ll hold our own version again. Bring your excess gear, memorabilia, guidebooks and other good “junk” you thought you needed, but don't anymore. There will be an area to display your items. This will be a “cash free” zone. Bring it and forget it! See something you want? Take it.

CHAPTER T-SHIRTS: We’re excited to unveil new shirts with an updated design, based on our chapter sello (stamp) that features the beloved shell motif and Latin quote, Solvitur ambulando (It is solved by walking). Come check out the new fabric, style/color options and find out how to order your own.

CONTRIBUTIONS: Please help us cover our event expenses (room, supplies) with a cash contribution to our donativo box at the check-in table. Your generosity allows us to devote more of our resources to our mission that includes supporting the Camino infrastructure through our grant programs.

San Francisco to Sausalito Hike
Sunday, November 25, 2018, 10:00 AM - 6:00 PM

The hike will be moderately paced, mostly on flat pavement, from the San Francisco Ferry Building to the Sausalito Ferry. Be advised that there is a steep uphill path to the GG Bridge and a steep downhill road. We return to San Francisco on the 5:35 PM ferry (bring a Clipper Card). Because the hike is 12 miles, it is recommended for experienced hikers who have done at least three 8-10 mile hikes recently.

BRING: sturdy walking shoes, water and lunch. MEET: at main entrance to the San Francisco Ferry Building at 10:00 AM. We leave at 10:15 AM sharp. Early birds can join us at Peet’s Coffee and use the public restrooms inside the Ferry Building. TAKE: BART and avoid the hassle of driving and parking. Catch the train which leaves from Walnut Creek (or other stations along the line) at 8:56 AM and arrives at Embarcadero at 9:31 AM. Walk east on Market St. to the Ferry Building. People from Marin can take a Golden Gate bus to downtown SF. RETURN: to the Ferry Building at 6:05 PM via ferry. LEADER: Dick Duker. LEVEL OF DIFFICULTY: 3A (10 to less than 15 miles, less than 1,000 ft elevation gain). BONUS HIKE: Join us for an after-hike walk to Union Square to view the Christmas lights.

Cancelled by rain. We will go in drizzle. If questionable weather, call (510) 526-5530 for an update message. If running late, call (510) 705-2447 and catch us at Pier 39 as we walk past.

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 usually an optional brunch and, sometimes, a special presentation 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.

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, inglés, primitivo and finisterre travelogues at
  • San Franciscan Mike Miller has written about his Camino experiences on the portugués, francés, primitivo and finisterre. 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 11/01/18