MTA El Camino 2018


Updates as of September 21:

  • The hiker’s info package has been sent to all registered hikers. Have a look at the maps for day 1, and day 2.
  • Registration is now closed.
  • If you need to send your fees via PayPal, email us first to confirm your participation, and we’ll send you the link.
  • Feel free to email at any time with questions


This year’s 2-day, 49km hike along the entire Maitland Trail will take place over the weekend of September 29-30, 2018.  Volunteers will be available each morning to shuttle you to your starting point, and then throughout the day at check points where you can have a few minutes to relax and refuel.

The Locavore Supper on Saturday evening will be a casual meal (optional) with delicious, hearty choices. A priority for us is to provide good quality food made with fresh, locally-sourced ingredients wherever possible.  See below for details.

On Friday night, September 28th, there will be an informal get-together at the the Legion in Goderich.  See below for details.

Here is a zipped Google Earth file with the important locations for the weekend. This will be downloaded to your computer.


The Camino will follow the entire Maitland Trail from the trail head near Auburn to Goderich, 49km in total.  The Trail follows the beautiful, winding route of the lower Maitland River, and includes areas of ecological significance.  You’ll traverse narrow trails, wide rambling trails, hills both up and down, through forests, past farmland, river vistas, autumn meadows, towering forests.  You may see wildlife – toads, salamanders, snakes; ravens, robins and eagles. 

You’ll also pass in and out of tornado-damaged areas; the forest is recovering, and after 7 years, you’ll see forest succession in action with fall wildflowers and grasses in full competition with young maples, oaks, and beech trees.

Our trail is beautifully natural.  That means that you’re also likely to encounter bugs, spiders, and other prickly stingy things, and possibly rain. Be prepared for a fun adventure.

For those who would like to do the Longest Hike (49km):   On Saturday morning, you’ll check in at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH), then shuttle to Auburn to begin your hike back to the BCH (29km).  When you’re finished hiking for the day, check out at BCH, so we know you’re safely off the trail.  On Sunday morning you’ll check in at the beach pavilion in Goderich, then shuttle to BCH to begin your hike back to Goderich (20km).

For those who would like to do a Long Hike:  On Saturday morning, you’ll check in at the BCH, then shuttle to your start location – either River Line (16km hike), or Sharpe’s Creek Line (11km hike).   When you’re finishing hiking for the day, check out at BCH, so we know you’re safely off the trail.  On Sunday morning, you’ll check in at the beach pavilion in Goderich, then shuttle to River Bend (13km hike) to begin your hike back to Goderich.

Shuttles will be available for those who need it.  If you can arrange to shuttle with a friend, that would be greatly appreciated.

Along the route there will be check points where water and snacks will be provided.  The snacks available won’t provide enough fuel for your hike;  make sure you bring enough food to last the day.  Check points will also have basic first aid equipment.  If you must end your hike for the day, you can be shuttled back to your car.  The best part about the check points are the friendly faces who provide sincere encouragement, and have genuine interest in how the hike is going for you.  They’re all volunteers who make this event possible.  Awesome!


Friday September 28th

  • 5-9pm:  Pub Meet-up at the Legion, 56 Kingston Street, in Goderich.  This is an optional, informal get-together.   Everyone is welcome.  See below for details.

Saturday September 29th – Auburn to Benmiller

  • 6-9:30am:  The Oatmeal Breakfast Bar will be available at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH).
  • 6:45 – 8am:  Longest Hike participants check in at BCH.  Shuttle to Auburn trail head.  Hikers will not be allowed to start the Longest Hike after 8:30am; make sure you’re at the trail head before then.
  • 8 – 10am:  Long Hike participants check in at the BCH, shuttle to chosen start point.
  • 1 – 5pm:  All hikers check out at the BCH (end of Saturday hike).
  • 4:30pm – 8:30pm:  Harvest Supper at the Legion  (for those who have selected the dinner option at registration).  Doors open at 4:30. Supper is a buffet, and will be served from 5-8pm. A cash bar will be available through the evening.

Sunday September 30th – Benmiller to Goderich

  • 6:30-9:30am:  The Oatmeal Breakfast Bar will be available at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich.
  • 7 – 8:30am:  Longest Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to Benmiller to continue hiking.
  • 8:30 – 11am:  Long Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to chosen start point.
  • 12 – 4pm:  All hikers check out (end of Sunday hike)


When you register, you’ll be asked to choose roughly what time you’ll be checking in each morning.  Windows will be limited. Options will be removed as windows reach capacity. 

On Saturday, registration is at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH) and starts at 6:45. The drive from there to the trail head (near Auburn) is about 15 minutes. Hikers may start the hike at 7am.

On Sunday, registration is at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich. Registration starts at 7am. The drive from the beach to Benmiller (for the 20km hike) is about 15 minutes.

Under no circumstances will hikers be allowed to start the longest hike after 8:30am (29km on Saturday, 20km on Sunday). If you’re planning to do the longest hike either day, plan to be at the trail head before 8:30.

The Saturday hike finishes at 5pm, and the Sunday hike at 4pm. For safety reasons, all hikers must be off the trail by those times.


2-day hike:
(includes shuttles if needed, trail maps, water and snacks at the check points, souvenir badge on completion)

  • Adults  $25 
  • Child/Youth under 18:  $10


  • Locavore Supper:  $25
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Bar:  By Donation ($5 suggested)
  • T-shirts:  $20
  • Trail Guides:  $15 ($12.50 for MTA members)
  • Donation to the Conservation Authority:  $5.50


The Maitland Trail Association is partnering with the local Conservation Authorities to let you know about an opportunity to compensate for the carbon dioxide emissions from your travel to Goderich.  If you’d like to offset your carbon production for travelling to the Camino, you have 2 options:

Go to Footprints to Forests to determine how many trees would offset your carbon.  Depending on the distance you’re travelling and the type of car, a donation of $5.50 would allow 1 tree to be planted, which would offset your GHG emissions for this trip.  Tax receipts will be issued for donations directly through the F2F website.


At registration, you’ll be offered the opportunity to donate $5.50.  In October, we’ll submit these funds to our Conservation Authority for tree planting in our watershed. Last year, Camino participants donated $450 which contributed to reforestation in Falls Reserve Conservation Area along a section of our trail.

MTA will also be contributing to the F2F project by donating funds to compensate for the kilometres driven by the Camino shuttlers. We estimate this will be 1 tree, but we may donate for 2 trees just for the heck of it.  Each year, our shuttle drivers drive over 2000km!

In 2016, Camino participants donated funds to help plant 45 hardwoods and 480 flowering shrubs along the Maitland River, within Falls Reserve Conservation Area. As part of a longer-term restoration project, these plantings will help restore resiliency along the river and provide important habitat.  Watch for these plantings near the picnic shelter, and near the group camping site by the river. Details and photos on the 2017 donation will be posted shortly.



What is the Camino?

El Camino Maitland (El Camino del Sinuoso Rio Maitland) is a 49km, 2-day hike along the entire Maitland Trail.  It’s modelled after the somewhat-more-famous El Camino del Santiago, the pilgrimage from southern France through the north of Spain to the Atlantic Ocean.

How long will the full hike take?

It depends on your pace, but based on completion times in previous years…

Saturday, 29km: 5-10 hours
Sunday, 20km: 4-8 hours

Is it a difficult hike?  Southern Ontario is flat, right?? 

This is important: This is a challenging hike with many steep hills and stairs up and down through the valley. Even experienced hikers find it challenging and some people are not able to complete it.  Our best advice is this:  Prepare for the event and know how long it will take YOU to walk 29km on uneven terrain.

Is there an option to hike less than 49km?

There are 2 not-so-long hikes on Saturday – 16km and 11km.  On Sunday, there is 1 not-so-long hike of 13km.  You can choose the lengths that work for you. The not-so-long hikes are not short – you need to be prepared.

What should I bring?

A small back pack with:  

At least 1 water bottle. Some hikers simply require more hydration, and warm temperatures can increase everyone’s needs. When you’re training for the hike, be aware of how much water you need to feel comfortable.

A cell phone, a sun hat, sun screen, bug repellent, band-aids suitable for blisters, lunch, a small first aid kit with any particular items you may require, e.g. an asthma puffer or epi pen. Don’t forget your preferred analgesic.

Experienced hikers recommend: hiking poles or walking sticks for the uneven terrain; extra socks; extra shoes; braces if you have knee issues; hiking shoes or boots with good support, not running shoes or sandals.

Can I bring my kids?

Sure! Hikers under 18 years of age are absolutely welcome, but they must be accompanied on the hike by an adult.

What’s happening on Friday Night?

There will be an informal meet-up where hikers from out of town (or in town!) can get together.  This year The Legion is the place, 56 Kingston Street, just off the Square in Goderich.  The Legion?? Yes! There will be drinks and simple food available. Everyone pays for their own, and everyone is free to come and go as they like. Barb and John will be there to answer all your questions. And Friday night is the meat draw (5-7pm)! Be prepared, you may come away with some fun stories.  On the registration form, we’ll ask if you think you might be there or not, just so we will know roughly how many people to expect.


How does the shuttling work?

On each day, you’ll drive yourself to the check-in point (the BCH on Saturday, and the beach pavilion on Sunday).  After you check in, one of our friendly volunteers will shuttle you to your start point. Then, you hike back to your car.

If you can arrange your own shuttling with a friend or group of friends, it would be greatly appreciated.  You can also take a taxi from Goderich; we’ll ensure the taxi company knows where BCH is.  Note: Some navigational apps don’t have the locations correct so check carefully – it’s on Londesboro Road at Grist Mill Line, in Benmiller.

Can you arrange carpooling from out of town?

We love the idea of carpooling for those coming from out of town. However, we have our hands full with organizing this big hiking event…. So, we invite you to join our Facebook page and connect with other hikers.  You can also contact the hiking club in your area to see about sharing a ride. Whether you would like a ride, or have room in your own vehicle, fewer cars on the road is always a good thing.  Sometimes the best memories come from the most unexpected situations.


Where is Goderich?   

Goderich is a lovely little town on the shore of Lake Huron.

Where is the Maitland Trail? 

The Maitland Trail follows the Maitland River fairly closely, between Auburn and Goderich.  It’s a beautifully winding trail maintained by the dedicated volunteers of the Maitland Trail Association.

Where can I get a map of the trail?  Can I purchase a trail guide?

When you check in on the morning of the hike, you’ll be provided with the 2018 camino trail map. Also, 2 weeks before the event, you’ll receive the same map and instructions about navigation by email. 

If you’d like to learn about the Maitland Trail sooner, you could order our trail guide, which has larger scale maps and a detailed description of the whole trail, as well as the other trails MTA maintains.  Here is more information about the Maitland Trail guide, and navigating our trails. Note: the Camino route is slightly different than the main trail, with a couple of camino-specific detours. Download a Google Earth file to see all the trail and other important locations.

I don’t know your trail and I’m concerned about getting lost.

Most hikers report having little or no difficulty navigating our trail. However, those who do report getting lost (accidentally leaving the trail) say it’s because they weren’t paying attention and missed a turn.

The best strategy is to pay attention to the tools provided:

Blazes. Make sure you know how to use them. We don’t always follow the standard of a subsequent blaze being within sight of the current one.

Signage. Watch for a variety of MTA signs at significant turn points. There may also be orange traffic cones, blue flags, chalk or paint on the ground, balloons, dancing bears …. haha just kidding about the bears. Maybe. If you see any dancing bears, please let us know.

The map. You’ll be given this at check-in, and it’ll be emailed to you 2 weeks before the event with other details about navigation. If you’re on a cart track or a road, it’s easy to miss the turn back into the woods so you need to pay attention to the map and know what’s ahead. If you need glasses to read, bring them.

Km markers. These are short posts in the ground indicating roughly where you are on the trail. Think of them as important landmarks, not indicators of a precise distance between known points. Why?? Due to various trail changes that happen year to year, the actual length of the trail changes slightly and the km markers on the ground are sometimes not accurate. The camino map will show the current trail and the actual distance that you’ll be hiking.

When you’re aware of your surroundings, you’ll not only avoid straying off the trail, but you may notice the quirky sing-song of a blue jay, the scent of water near the falls, the changes in vegetation as you pass the pine plantation and the summer wheat fields….

Where do I check in on Saturday?

At 37252 Londesboro Road (County Rd 31), which is the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH), at the corner of Grist Mill Line.  Benmiller is a small community southeast of Goderich. 

Where do I check in on Sunday?

At 2 Cove Road, which is pavilion #2 on the beach in Goderich.  In Goderich, go west on West Street, down the hill towards the beach, follow the road (there’s only one).  After you go around the big curve, the pavilion will be just past the old CPR station, on your right.


I heard something about breakfast being provided?

Yes, back by popular demand!  The (optional) Oatmeal Breakfast Bar, will be available at check-in (the BCH on Saturday, and the beach pavilion on Sunday).  With the oatmeal there will be a variety of stewed fruit, seeds, nut toppings, milk/milk substitute, and real maple syrup, served with fresh fruit and coffee or tea.  Payment is by donation, $5 is suggested.

Will lunch be provided?

No.  During the hike, there will be 3-4 check points each day where snacks will be provided, and you’ll be able to refill your water bottle.  You’ll need to prepare your own lunch based on your own needs, for both Saturday and Sunday. Hikers generally feel well fed, but don’t rely on the check points to meet all your nutritional and energy needs.

What’s for supper?

This year, our Locavore Supper will be at the Royal Canadian Legion in Goderich.  It’ll be a relaxed buffet, served from 5-8pm.  Doors open at 4:30, dinner service will start at 5 and finish about 8pm. A cash bar will be available for the duration. 

On the menu: 

Entrees created by Sweet Love Eats (Shepherd’s Pie, Vegetarian Lasagna, Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchilada);
Crudités, refreshing and crunchy, mostly organic and local, accompanied by Dory’s Biscotti, hummus and chips
Sourdough Bread by Red Cat Bakery, with real butter
Savoury Salads, with grains, potato, and/or greens. It will be filling and delicious.
A selection of desserts including squares and fresh fruit
Coffee and Tea, of course 🙂


I’m coming from out of town.  Where can I stay?  Should I bring a sleeping bag?

Accommodation is not part of the event. All participants need to make their own arrangements.

While there are many types of accommodation in and around Goderich, we have had good reviews from hikers about these:  Colborne B&B, Eldon St Guest House, the Cedar Lodge Motel, and the Maple Leaf Motel.

If you want to camp, the Falls Reserve Conservation Area is in Benmiller.

If you are interested in something rustic and dormitory-style, there are cabins available at Camp Menesetung, which is about 3km north of Goderich. Contact them directly for more information.

If you’re having difficulty, let us know and we’ll do what we can to help.

What type of toilet options are part of the Camino experience?

There are indoor flush toilets at the beginning and end of each day, and an additional one about 4km into the 20k hike on Sunday (off the trail, at Falls Reserve Conservation Area).  There are a small number of outhouses which will be marked on the map that hikers receive at check in.  Otherwise, one must be prepared to go in the woods.  Here’s some good advice.  In addition, one should remember that most of the Maitland Trail is on private property and discretion and respect are very important.

Are there t-shirts?  Are there photos of the T-shirts available?

Camino 2018 T-shirt – 100% ring spun cotton, designed and embroidered with the 2018 Maitland Camino logo. Available in green, blue, or light grey.

MTA ROCKS – 100% cotton, unisex fit, white with a black image.

T-shirts can be ordered at registration, or by email up until August 31. All will be available for pick-up at check in. 

I want to run the whole trail in one day; is that an option?

The Camino is designed for hiking at a pace of 3-5km per hour, doing up to 29km on Saturday and up to 20km on Sunday.  If you want to go at a faster pace, your schedule will not be in sync with our support system and we’ll have a harder time tracking your safe progress.  If you want something more challenging than the 2-day hike, check out The Bad Thing 🙂


Why do you need my email address?

We’ll be sending the Hiker’s Info Package about 2 weeks before the event. This will have the map, navigation info, other important details and any late changes to the event. Also, in case there are last minute changes or advice, this is the only way we’ll have to communicate directly with you. When you register, please make sure you provide a correct email address, and make sure you receive your confirmation emails.

I’m having trouble registering. What’s up?….

The online registration form is a little wonky within some email systems and on some mobile devices. Unfortunately this finickyness is out of our control.  If you’re using a portable device, try using a desktop. If you’re not sure we’ve received your registration info, just send us a separate note [] and we’ll do a manual confirmation for you within 24hrs (if not sooner). Be patient, and thankful that registration isn’t done by smoke signals. Wow; can you imagine?!

How do I pay online?  Do I have to have a PayPal account to register online?

If you want to pay online, you’ll either need a PayPal account, OR a credit card.  Credit card payments are processed through PayPal.  If you would rather not pay online, just mail your cheque payable to Maitland Trail Association, Box 443 Goderich, ON, N7A 4C7.

I haven’t received a confirmation email. How do I know if I’m registered?

Check your email spam box. If your spam box gets emptied frequently, you may have already missed it.  So, send us a quick email [] and we’ll resend confirmation. 

I’m having troubles with PayPal (“Enter a Valid Price” error), what’s going on?

You’re entering your registration fees on the PayPal page and you’re getting the message: “Enter a Valid Price”. Did you put a dollar sign in front of the total of your fees? If so, try entering your registration fees without the dollar sign ( $ ) in front and that should solve the “Enter a Valid Price” error!

Can I bring my fees to check-in?

No. Registration fees must be received by September 20 or you’ll be de-registered.

Something has happened and I can’t do the hike.  Can I get a refund?

There will be no refunds after September 8th. If you cancel before September 8th, a $5 fee will be retained and we’ll return the balance of your fees after the event (October 2018). If you’d like to simply donate the balance of your fees to MTA, let us know and we’ll send you a charitable receipt after the event.

When are fees due?  

We prefer people pay within 1-2 weeks of registering so we can plan appropriately and we’re not scrambling mid-September.  We’ll send reminders if we don’t hear from you.  If you need more time, please let us know.  September 20 is the absolute last day for us to receive fees.  At that point we’ll have to deregister anyone who hasn’t paid and bring people in from the wait list. 


Hmm…. I think there is an error in the Spanish translation. It should be ‘del Rio Maitland’, not ‘de Rio Maitland’.

Yes, you’re right. And we will endeavor to correct this. Thanks!


Looking forward to another great hike 🙂