training for the camino de santiago walk in the USA

Camino Training Walks – USA



Written by Caitlin

If you are going to walk the Camino de Santiago later this year, or even next year, it is never too early to start training. The fitter and stronger you are before you tackle the Camino, the easier it will be. Plenty of our clients are based overseas, so we’ve put together some suggested walks that you can do where you are. These are just a few of our favourite ones are in the USA!

Camino Training Walks in California

California is an excellent state for getting outdoors with so many parks and natural spaces to explore. It is no wonder that so many Californians choose to walk the Camino with us!

  • Challenging but spectacular: Yosemite Falls Trail
    • Distance: 7.2 miles (11.6 km) round trip
    • Elevation gain: 2,700 ft (823 m) 
    • Duration: 6-8 hours round trip
    • Start: Camp 4 area (near shuttle stop #7 and El Capitan Shuttle stop #E2)
    • Difficulty: Challenging
    • Season: Not recommended in winter

    This rewarding hike through one of California’s most spectacular sceneries boasts stunning views. Make your way to the top of North America’s tallest waterfall, which rises 2,425 feet (739 m) above the valley floor. You will walk uphill, following switchbacks that lead through oak woodland. The amazing views at the top are well worth the effort. You will not only be amazed by the panorama of the valley and surrounding mountains but also see the surprisingly small creek that feeds the waterfall. At Yosemite Point, you enjoy direct views of Half Dome and Lost Arrow Spire as well.

    This hike is great for people from the Sacramento, San Francisco and Fresno area.

    For more information, please have a look at the website of Yosemite National Park.

  • A lush, green paradise: James Irvine Trail to Fern Canyon Loop
    • Distance: 11 miles (17.7 km) round trip
    • Elevation gain: 450 ft (137.16m)
    • Duration: 6 Hours
    • Start: Praire Creek Visitor Center
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
    • Season: All year

    This day-hike has everything: look forward to lush green ferns, murmuring creeks, mystical forests and the rewarding views of the Pacific Ocean! Before you start hiking, pop into the Visitor Center and stock up with a map and some information. The trail begins right behind the Center. Follow the path through old forests and keep an eye out for the beautiful flora. Occasionally, you will cross picturesque corduroy bridges. Look forward to the dripping walls and stream cobbles of Fern Canyon and finally to the rewarding views of Gold Bluffs Beach. Continue south on Davison Road and take the 4.1 mile (6.5 km) Miners Ridge trail back to the Praire Creek Visitor Center area.

    This hike is recommended for people from northern California.

    For more information, please have a look at the website of Redwood National Park

  • Explore the magic of the desert: Lost Palm Oasis in Joshua Tree National Park
    • Distance: 7.5 miles (12 km) return
    • Elevation gain: 500ft (152 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours
    • Start: Cottonwood Spring parking area
    • Difficulty: challenging
    • Season: don’t attempt in summer

    Explore the desert and the fascinating atmosphere of Joshua Tree National Park. Look forward to sandy, rolling terrain and rocks. In spring, you will see stunning blooming wildflowers.

    Later you hike down into a canyon and discover a beautiful fan palm oasis. Take a rest here, enjoy the unique ambience of the oasis and gather your strength for the way back, as climbing back out the canyon is strenuous. Bring plenty of water and food! 

    This hike is great for people from the Los Angeles and San Diego area.

    For more information, please have a look at the Joshua Tree National Park website and other sites for hikers.

  • Condors and bizarre rocks: Pinnacles National Park – High Peaks Loop
    • Distance: 9.3 miles round trip
    • Elevation gain: 1465 ft
    • Duration: 5 hours
    • Start: Parking lot at the end of Pinnacles Highway
    • Difficulty: moderate 
    • Season: all year

    This impressive hike leads you to most of the big sights in Pinnacles National Park. You will cross streams, explore talus caves and climb around and through the fascinating and bizarre rock spires! Sometimes, you even have the opportunity to climb up some stairs cut into the sides of the pinnacles themselves. If you’re lucky, you might spot a Condor in the air. In the spring, look forward to meadows with bountiful wildflowers along the trail.

    This hike is great for people from San Jose.

    For more information, please have a look at the Pinnacles National Park website as well as other sites concerning hiking.

  • Escape the city: Mount Tamalpais State Park
    • Distance: 11 miles
    • Elevation gain: 1,200 ft
    • Duration: 6-7 hours
    • Start: Rock Spring Trailhead
    • Difficulty: moderate to challenging 
    • Season: all year

    If you are from San Francisco and want to go on a spontaneous hiking trip just outside the city, Mount Tam is waiting for you! Walk uphill through blooming flowers and catch glimpses of friendly animals like birds and lizards. On the top you will be rewarded with stunning views of the bay and the ocean.

    This hike is great for people from San Francisco. 

    For more information, please have a look at the Mount Tamalpais State Park website.

    Have you heard from the American pilgrims association? They offer guided training hikes as well. 

Here are some in New York

Whether you are in the city or the country – New York has an excellent array of places to go walking. get your walking shoes on and find your own private slice of nature away from the crowds.

  • Cat Rocks and Nuclear Lake: Appalachian National Scenic Trail
    • Distance: 13 miles (20.9 km) loop
    • Elevation gain: 1500 ft (457 m)
    • Duration: 7.5 hours 
    • Start: Parking area near Native Landscaping Inc
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
    • Season: All year

    There is a lot to discover when you hike the Appalachian National Scenic Trail! You will walk through a beautiful forest, pass through wetlands on a 1,600-foot-long boardwalk and enjoy multiple panoramic views. Picturesque bridges and a waterfall are also part of the trail. Sometimes, you will walk uphill but the trail is in general not very steep. A highlight is the white Dover Oak, which is estimated to be about 300 years old and has a circumference of over 20 feet.

    Don’t worry, despite its name, Nuclear Lake is only named after a long-gone nuclear fuel research facility. The area was of course extensively tested and found suitable for recreational use by the public. 

    This hike is great for people from NYC and Albany.

    For more information, read this

  • A spontaneous day outside NYC: Long Island Greenbelt Trail
    • Distance: 15 miles (24 km) loop
    • Elevation gain: about 164 ft (50 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours 
    • Start: Great River railroad station
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
    • Season: All year

    Long Island is perfect for a spontaneous day hike from NYC. Just a short train ride away, this trail awaits you with pleasant wooded areas, charming ponds and a calm atmosphere. Crossing the dam of Westbrook pond, you will be treated with great views of the scenic pond and its several islands with tall pitch pines. For a while, the trail follows the Connetquot River. You pass historic houses, horse farms and a golf course. After you reached the end of the trail, you can take the train back home. 

    This hike is great for people from NYC.

    Read this for more information. 

  • Explore the wilderness: West Canada Lakes Trail
    • Distance: 15.4 miles (24.8 km) 
    • Elevation gain: 1706 ft (520 m)
    • Duration: 7 hours 
    • Start: Carpark at Indian Lake Rd/ Otter Brooke Rd junction
    • Difficulty: moderate
    • Season: All year

    The West Canada Lakes Trail is an out and back trail amidst the nature of the West Canada Lakes. Look forward to quiet forests, a picturesque lake and fascinating rock formations. You are allowed to take your dog with you, but it must be kept on leash. If you’re lucky, you might spot some wildlife like moose and porcupines. The trail is in general accessible all year, but you should keep in mind that there might be snow in winter.

    This hike is great for people from Albany and Syracuse. 

    For more information, check this website

And Florida

If you are looking for interesting and unique Camino training walks in the USA – pop over to Florida. There are hills, mountains, flatlands, and everything in between.

  • Gators and Swamps: Everglades National Park – Shark Valley
    • Distance: 15 miles (24 km) loop
    • Elevation gain: 23 ft (7 m)
    • Duration: 5 hours round trip
    • Start: Behind Visitor Center
    • Difficulty: Easy to moderate
    • Season: All year

    Explore the lush Everglades! Located near Miami, the Shark Valley Trail boasts beautiful wildflowers and is good for all skill levels. The path is suitable for walking, running, and bikes, as well as wheelchairs and, is accessible year-round.

    Expect to see many turtles, beautiful birds and alligators. The trail is very flat and well maintained. Don’t miss your chance to walk up to the small Shark Valley observation tower – the views from there are great!

    This hike is great for people from Miami and southern Florida.

    For more information, please have a look at the National Park website

  • Florida’s mountains wait for you: Torreya State Park Hiking Trail
    • Distance: 15 miles (24 km) in double loops
    • Elevation gain: 3000 ft (914 m)
    • Duration: 7-8 hours round trip
    • Start: Gregory House trailhead
    • Difficulty: challenging 
    • Season: All year, best in winter and spring

    Torreya State Park offers a difficult and mountainous, but incredibly rewarding hike that is not at all typical for the normally very flat Florida. Discover all kinds of unique features, including limestone bluffs, overlooks, miniature canyons, and even a waterfall. If you want to combine with a bit of history, visit the Gregory House at the trail’s starting point. Look forward to beautiful views of the Apalachicola River and an impressive landscape of bluffs and ravines. In late spring the magnolia bloom is at peak.

    This hike is great for people from the Tallahassee and Panama City area.

    For more information, read this

  • Rest your eyes on the horizon: Ozmore Kilpatrick Prairie Trails
    • Distance: 11 miles (17.5 km) loop
    • Elevation gain: 32 ft (10 m) 
    • Duration: 5 hours 
    • Start: Kissimmee Prairie Preserve Family campground 
    • Difficulty: moderate
    • Season: all year

    In the middle of Florida, the Ozmore Kilpatrick Trails wait for you with beautiful wildflowers on wide prairie fields. In the beginning, you can expect Florida’s typical. Along the way, there are plenty of opportunities for bird watching. You are allowed to bring your dog, but you must keep him on a leash.

    This hike is great for people from the Tampa and Orlando area.

    For more information, have a look at this web page

Texas has plenty of walks too

You’ll probably need to pull on a sun hat for some of the training walks you’ll find in Texas, but it is absolutely worth it!

  • Explore Nature: Huntsville State Park
    • Distance: 15,3 miles (24.6 km) loop
    • Elevation gain: N/A
    • Duration: 7 hours 
    • Start: State Park Campground
    • Difficulty: Moderate to challenging
    • Season: All year 

    This combination of two great trails in the Huntsville State Park lets you explore its nature and wildlife up close. On the Triple C Trail, the first loop of your hike, you can look forward to a large diversity of habitats off the beaten track. The Chinquapin Trail forms the second loop end leads you close to the charming lake and over marshes full wildlife. You have a good chance to see animals like shorebirds and nutria!

    This hike is great for people from Houston. 

    Read more here.  

    Did you know that the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Pilgrims Association sometimes offers guided training walks? 

  • Incredible Canyons: Caprock Canyons Trailways

    Distance: 6,5 miles (10.3 km) loop

    Elevation gain: ca 1700 ft (520 m)

    Duration: 5-6 hours 

    Start: North Prong Spur/ Lower South Prong Trailhead and parking lot

    Difficulty: Moderate 

    Season: All year; but be aware of summer heat

     

    The Caprock Canyons State Park offers a great variety of trails. For your Camino training, you can combine them to a 6h hike which lets you experience multiple aspects of the park. We suggest a combination of Lower South Prong, Lower North Prong and North Prong Spur Trail in order to complete a scenic loop. Look forward to the beautiful white veins of gypsum along the Little Red River, stunning canyon panoramas in the remote north of the park and wild, unspoiled nature.

    This hike is great for people from Amarillo, Lubbock and Dallas.

    For more information, please have a look this page

Did you know that the Texas Gulf Coast Chapter of the American Pilgrims Association sometimes offers guided training walks? https://americanpilgrims.org/inspire_events/huntsville-state-park-tx-texas-gulf-coast-chapter-training-hike/

And there are loads in every other state as well!

We wish we could write about every State in the US of A, but that would take a lifetime! Here are just a couple more of our favourites for you to consider without leaving the country –

  • Virginia: White Oak Canyon Trail
    • Distance: 9.4 miles (15.2 km) 
    • Elevation gain: 2408 ft (734 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours 
    • Start: Skyline Drive or White Oak Canyon parking lot
    • Difficulty: moderate to challenging
    • Season: All year

    This hike treats you with a variety of beautiful waterfalls – in some of them you can even swim! Bring your swimming gear and hop into the water to freshen up whenever you like. Other than the waterfalls, you can expect a calm lush forest and a well-marked path. 

    For more information, look here

  • Washington: Explore Huntsville State Park
    • Distance: 12 miles (19.3 km) round trip
    • Elevation gain: 2450 ft (747 m)
    • Duration: 7 hours 
    • Start: Central Cascades, Stevens Pass East; shuttle from Alpine Lakes High Camp available
    • Difficulty: challenging
    • Season: All year, best in late summer and fall

    Nestled between the mountains of Okanogan National Forest and the Scottish Lakes, the area around the mystical Larch Lake just waits to be explored! Face the challenge and make your way from the Alpine Lakes High Camp to this natural gem – there is no better and more beautiful way to train for your Camino! The area is especially impressive in the fall, when the trees glow in bright golden and orange colors. 

    For more information, please have a look here

  • Massachusetts: Mount Race – Mount Everett – Race Brook Falls Loop
    • Distance: 7 miles (11.3 km) round trip
    • Elevation gain: 2231 ft (680 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours 
    • Start: on MA 41 just north of the Connecticut/Massachusetts border
    • Difficulty: challenging
    • Season: All year, caution in winter

    Hike up the scenic area of Mt. Race and Mt. Everett and enjoy great views of theses peaks! Along the way, at least five impressive waterfalls just wait to be discovered. You can take your dog with you but must keep it on a leash. The trail goes uphill moderately most of the time and becomes a bit steeper during the last bit – great training for your Camino!

    For more information, please have a look here

  • Colorado: Black Lake in Rocky Mountain National Park
    • Distance: 10 miles (16 km) round trip
    • Elevation gain: 1430 ft (436 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours 
    • Start: Glacier Gorge Trailhead
    • Difficulty: challenging
    • Season: All year

    Explore a stunning mountainous area with glacier gorges, crystal clear lakes, waterfalls and forests. Another highlight is the “Keyboard of the Winds”. This group of peaks produces fascinating sounds and even music as the wind whistle around its sharp edges. The last section of the trail is a bit steep but rewards you with spectacular views of Black Lake. 

    For more information, please read here

  • North Carolina: Uwharrie National Recreation Trail
    • Distance: 20 miles (32 km) 
    • Elevation gain: 2805 ft (855 m)
    • Duration: 6 hours 
    • Start: Trailhead parking on NC Highway 24/27
    • Difficulty: challenging
    • Season: All year

    The Uwharrie National Forest in the middle of North Carolina offers great opportunities to hike and train for your Camino. One amazing trail is the Uwharrie National Recreation Trail, which leads you along beautiful scenery with streams, forests and rocky terrain. On some days on the Camino, you will have to walk about 30 km, so this trail is a great training.

    For more information, please read this

  • Illinois: Canyon Tour, Starved Rock State Park

    Distance: 12.3 miles (19.8 km) 

    Elevation gain: 

    Duration: 5-6 hours 

    Start: Starved Rock State Park Visitor Center

    Difficulty: moderate 

    Season: All year

     

    Only a 1.5 hour drive from Chicago, the Starved Rock State Park offers a great hiking experience that prepares you for the Camino. Discover sandstone caverns, fascinating canyons and a variety of small waterfalls! While hiking through this magical landscape, you won’t even notice you’re training.

     

    Read this for more information. 

These are all just a few suggestions that we have heard of, there are plenty more that we haven’t! Look up your local Camino groups and Pilgrimage organisations for more recommendations.

We would love to see pictures of all your amazing training adventures at home, so tag us online when you share your stories! #FollowTheCamino

Happy training!

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Originally published on 16th March 2020

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