A donation to the forum removes ads for you, and supports Ivar in his work running it

Advertisement

Trail types in Mountains

Camino(s) past & future
Frances, (2018)
#1
We're preparing for the CF in May. My wife & I walk in the Sierra Madre Occidental range here in Mexico to practice for the elevation gain. I have seen many beautiful pictures along the flatlands of the Camino Frances, and even a few of the first day in the Pyrenees. My question is: are any of the CF mountain stages classic narrow-width, switchback trails? Trails where the slope is almost straight up on one side, straight down the other, and the trail just a little wider than a hiker? Muchas Gracias!
 

Attachments


Advertisment

RJM

Veteran Member
Camino(s) past & future
A few times, but soon again I hope....
#3
So much of the Camino Frances walk is on improved surfaces, I cannot say I remember much classic hiking type trails as I've been on in North America. I don't believe there is a single switchback trail.
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#4
My question is: are any of the CF mountain stages classic narrow-width, switchback trails? Trails where the slope is almost straight up on one side, straight down the other, and the trail just a little wider than a hiker? Muchas Gracias!
None like that.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances (Sept 2016)
SDC/ Finesterre/ Muxia (2016)
#5
elevation gain is very moderate- no switch backs- look at the number of km on the Pyrenees verses meters gained
a bit steeper to O Cebrerio
I hike steeper stuff in the Olympic mountains at home
 

Advertisment

Camino(s) past & future
Frances x5, Portuguese VdlP12, Sanabres, Aragones, Norte,Salvador,Primitivo, VdlP 17,Madrid18
#7
Not unless you take the Pardelo route after Villafranca del Bierzo.
 
#8
We're preparing for the CF in May. My wife & I walk in the Sierra Madre Occidental range here in Mexico to practice for the elevation gain. I have seen many beautiful pictures along the flatlands of the Camino Frances, and even a few of the first day in the Pyrenees. My question is: are any of the CF mountain stages classic narrow-width, switchback trails? Trails where the slope is almost straight up on one side, straight down the other, and the trail just a little wider than a hiker? Muchas Gracias!
Hi, Patrick, welcome to the forum.

You've asked a great question. I know that some thru-hiker types come to the camino expecting that kind of experience, and it just isn't what the camino is all about. Spain has lots of great hiking trails, in the Picos de Europa, in the Sierra Nevada, in the Pyrenees, and there are caminos that cross those areas (Salvador, Primitivo, Invierno, Vadiniense, Lebañiego, Olvidado), but even on those caminos the mountain trails are but a snippet of the total walk.

As far as surfaces go, in recent years, particularly in Galicia, most of the camino has been paved with crushed gravel, so when you add those stretches to the pavement walking along highways and on local biking/walking trails, the predominant surface is improved, flat, and hard. (with the Camiino de Madrid being a notable exception) Not good for tendonitis, that's for sure.

I don't mean this to sound negative (after all, I head to the camino every chance I get), but I have met more than a few disgruntled hiker types who were expecting a long walk in the wilderness. If that's what you are looking for, I would suggest heading to some of Spain's beautiful national parks where the trails are outstanding and you are far from the crowds. The camino has a lot of wonder, joy and awe to offer -- sure, some of it is in the scenery, but IMO that's not the essence of the camino magic many of us go back for year after year.
 
Camino(s) past & future
Frances, (2018)
#9
Thanks to all for the information and advice. I will be happy with whatever the Camino provides; My dear wife does not like the element of danger provided by the classic hiking trails we train on. I assured her most of the Camino was not like that, but I wanted to ensure there weren't any surprises out there. Thanks again!
 

J Willhaus

Active Member
Camino(s) past & future
24 May 2016- 14 July CF
Hospitalero, Zamora Dec 15-31, 2017
#11
Patrick,
We are also hikers and the way is not like backcountry trail hiking, but neither is it all easy going. No steep edges or switchback really, but plenty or terrain where you can stumble or twist an ankle if you are not careful. I recall a few steep climbs where I swore someone had taken a dump truck of loose, fist-sized rocks to the top and let the loose down the path. (Most of these are well-designated in the guidebook.) I sprained my ankle on the Roman road remnants at one point where it was completely flat and limped the rest of the trip with hiking poles for support. Yes there is much flat improved walkway, but don't become complacent.
Janet
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#14
Thanks to all for the information and advice. I will be happy with whatever the Camino provides; My dear wife does not like the element of danger provided by the classic hiking trails we train on. I assured her most of the Camino was not like that, but I wanted to ensure there weren't any surprises out there. Thanks again!
Picture a long Sunday walk through local parks, farm land and nature reserves, on well maintained forest trails and footpaths, and some along the side of the road with traffic passing..........passing through villages every few hours with cafes and shops, and larger towns every few days. And a handful of big cities thrown in. All with 50+ other people in sight.........and doing that every day.

It ain't no Wilderness Trail ;);)

I imagine 'Thru Hikers' would hate it :p

But it's very cool in it's own way. :cool: (Particularly if you like good food and wine)
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#15
Picture a long Sunday walk through local parks, farm land and nature reserves, on well maintained forest trails and footpaths, and some along the side of the road with traffic passing..........passing through villages every few hours with cafes and shops, and larger towns every few days. And a handful of big cities thrown in. All with 50+ other people in sight.........and doing that every day.

It ain't no Wilderness Trail ;);)

I imagine 'Thru Hikers' would hate it :p

But it's very cool in it's own way. :cool: (Particularly if you like good food and wine)
;) This PCT thru hiker loves the Camino. :cool: But then again, I don't drag a wilderness backpacking filter along on the Camino. For one thing, that filter is a weighty burden :eek:; for another, I like the ability to have more than a single dimension of expectations. :)
 
Camino(s) past & future
CF SJPdP to SdC
(May 2015)
CF Sarria to SdC
(May 2016)
CF SJPDP-SdC
(Apr/May 2018)
VdlP (2020)
#16
;) This PCT thru hiker loves the Camino. :cool: But then again, I don't drag a wilderness backpacking filter along on the Camino. For one thing, that filter is a weighty burden :eek:; for another, I like the ability to have more than a single dimension of expectations. :)
And being able to have a real coffee every few hours is something different too ;);)
Maybe it should be called Thru Hiking for Couch Potatoes :eek::eek:

Maybe not,
my feet have just reminded me how much they are going to hurt me in the next few weeks... :mad:
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#17
Only on some very short sections is it remotely like that -- off-hand, I can think only of one almost cliff-face climb in the Meseta that has a switch-back path, and that's one single relatively short elevation in an otherwise gently rolling landscape ; one tiny bit of the westward slope down from Cruz de Ferro ; part of the climb up to O Cebreiro, and that's still basically a steep forest path ; potentially one ridge crossing over the Pyrenees if you take a wrong turn at some point (?? may be misremembering).

Bottom line is : no.

Only on the Way through the valley up from Oloron up to the Somport have I ever experienced any Camino hiking on very narrow trails on cliff-sides, and my understanding is that new, easier trails were being created to avoid those. I've been up and down a few ridges on the Piémont Way between Lourdes and SJPP, but even these are far gentler than what you describe.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#18
And being able to have a real coffee every few hours is something different too ;);)
Maybe it should be called Thru Hiking for Couch Potatoes :eek::eek:

Maybe not,
my feet have just reminded me how much they are going to hurt me in the next few weeks... :mad:
But it's still a thru-hike :D
 

JabbaPapa

"True Pilgrim"
Camino(s) past & future
100 characters or fewer : see signature details
#20
But it's still a thru-hike :D
No, it's nothing like a thru-hike -- the only genuine US-style European thru-hike that I'm aware of is the Via Alpina.

The Camino has no single starting point, and Compostela is not where it ends.
 

davebugg

DustOff: "When I have your wounded."
Camino(s) past & future
Camino Frances...
Sept. 2017: SJPdP to Burgos
Sept./Oct. 2018: SJPdP to Santiago de Compostela
#21
No, it's nothing like a thru-hike -- the only genuine US-style European thru-hike that I'm aware of is the Via Alpina.

The Camino has no single starting point, and Compostela is not where it ends.
You are technically correct as the term applies to backpacking. I'm using the term in a more generic way. :)

Having thru-hiked the PCT and the Colorado Trail, I take a different perspective. A thru-hike has no required minimum number of miles or kilometers, nor does it have to cross an entire geographic area, like a State; the Colorado Trail covers only a portion of Colorado, but backpacking its 487 miles is a through hike. So a thru hike does begin and end at specified points. You are correct that there is no single, defined starting point or a defined ending point for Camino, but there are popular, if not traditional, starting and ending points ... and while it is not backpacking per se, pilgrims do hike.

Hiking thru Spain on Camino is not like a wilderness thru-hike on the Pacific Crest Trail, or the Colorado Trail, or the Continental Divide Trail. But walking across all, or a good portion of a country, satisfies what I find are the essentials for a generically defined thru-hike.
 

OLDER threads on this topic



A few items available from the Camino Forum Store



Pilgrims here right now

Advertisement

Most read today

Most downloaded Resources

Forum Rules

Forum Rules

Camino Forum Store

Camino Forum Store

Casa Ivar Newsletter

Forum Donation

Forum Donation
For those with no forum account, it is possible to donate here as well. Thank you for your support! Ivar

Follow Casa Ivar on Instagram

When is the best time to walk?

  • January

    Votes: 8 1.1%
  • February

    Votes: 4 0.6%
  • March

    Votes: 32 4.6%
  • April

    Votes: 106 15.2%
  • May

    Votes: 172 24.6%
  • June

    Votes: 51 7.3%
  • July

    Votes: 14 2.0%
  • August

    Votes: 10 1.4%
  • September

    Votes: 201 28.8%
  • October

    Votes: 85 12.2%
  • November

    Votes: 10 1.4%
  • December

    Votes: 5 0.7%
Top