MTA El Camino 2019

2019….. Thanks to all our participants, volunteers, and sponsors!

  • Camino 2019 was our most (financially) successful event yet. We raised significant funds to support our biggest project for 2020:  bridge and boardwalk upgrades throughout the Maitland Woods. 
  • Participants donated a total of $873 for the Maitland Valley Conservation Authority.  Funds will be used for various works in and around the Maitland River Valley such as habitat restoration, tree planting, erosion protection, etc.  Kudos to MVCA for the important work they do.
  • With over 50 volunteers, Camino 2019 went off with only small hiccups.  Huge thanks to all our volunteers who helped make it happen.
  • Hikers came from near and far, braved the drizzle, the wasps, the hiccups… we saw lots of smiles, great photos, and shared stories that will be remembered.
  • Thanks to the Lower Maitland Stewardship Group and NCC for their delicious contributions, and for making Cherrydale the most famous check point. Ever.
  • Thanks to Goderich Toyota, and Goderich Canadian Tire Gas Bar for their contributions. We are grateful for your generosity.


This year’s 2-day, 49km hike along the entire Maitland Trail will take place over the weekend of September 28-29, 2019.  Shuttles will be available each morning to take you to your starting point, and then throughout the day at check points where you can have a few minutes to relax and refuel.

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 27th, there will be an informal get-together at Joe Friday’s 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 where you can unzip it, double-click, and it will open in Google Earth if you have it installed on your computer.  If you don’t have Google Earth, give it a try and let me know what happens.

The Camino will follow the entire 49km of the Maitland Trail from the trail head near Auburn to Goderich.  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 8 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 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 River Bend (13km hike) to begin your hike back to Goderich.

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 meet your needs for the day.  Check points will also have basic first aid equipment.  If you must cut your hike short, 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 27th

  • 7-8pm:  Greeting at Joe Friday’s, 92 The Square, in Goderich. Optional and informal. 

Saturday September 28th – Auburn to Benmiller

  • 6-9:30am:  The Oatmeal Breakfast Bar will be available at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH).
  • 6:30 – 8am:  Longest Hike participants check in at BCH.  Shuttle to the trail head near Auburn.  Hikers will not be allowed to start the Longest Hike after 8:30am; make sure you’re at the trail head before then.
  • 8:15 – 10am:  Long Hike participants check in at the BCH, shuttle to chosen start point (either River Line, or Sharpe’s Creek Line).
  • 1 – 5pm:  All hikers check out at the BCH (end of Saturday hike).
  • 4:30pm – 8:30pm:  Supper at the Legion  (for those who have selected the dinner option at registration).  Doors open at 5:30. Supper is a buffet, and will be served from 6-8pm. A cash bar will be available through the evening.

Sunday September 29th – Benmiller to Goderich

  • 6:30-9:30am:  The Oatmeal Breakfast Bar will be available at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich.
  • 6:30 – 8am:  Longest Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to the trail near Benmiller to continue hiking.
  • 8:15 – 9:45am:  Long Hike participants check in at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich, shuttle to the trail at Riverbend to continue hiking.
  • 12 – 4pm:  All hikers check out (end of Sunday hike)


When you register, you’ll be asked to choose your shuttle departure time for each morning. 
If there is a note saying “Almost full”, we can’t guarantee you a spot. In that case, pick it anyway, and we’ll email if we need to move you.
If there is a note saying “Full”, do not pick that option.
Departure times are slightly approximate; we’ll do our best to keep to the schedule and we ask that you do the same 🙂

Check-in and shuttling will be different this year…. We ask that you head to the Check-in gate at least 5-10 minutes before your shuttle departure time. It will be quick and you’ll board the shuttle almost immediately.  So… arrive, park the car, chat with your friends, have some breakfast, use the facilities, adjust your shoes, run back to the car for your phone, fill your water bottle…. and finally, go to the Check-in gate, maybe wait a couple of minutes, and then onto the shuttle.  

On Saturday, Check-in is at the Benmiller Community Hall (BCH).  On Sunday, it’s at the pavilion on the beach in Goderich. 

Under no circumstances will hikers be allowed to start the longest hike after 8:30am (29km on Saturday, 20km on Sunday).

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.  If it looks like you won’t make the cut-off, you’ll be invited to hopscotch to the next check point.

If you’re hiking in a group (+5 people), or with underage hikers, send us an email with your names and we’ll do what we can to keep you on the same shuttle.

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

  • Adults:   $30
  • Child/Youth under 18:   $10


  • Saturday Supper:  $30
  • Oatmeal Breakfast Bar:  By Donation ($5 suggested)
  • T-shirts:  $20
  • Donation to the Conservation Authority:  $5.50


The Maitland Trail Association is supporting the local Conservation Authority by providing 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 and restoration in the Maitland River Valley. Last year, Camino participants donated $450 which contributed to reforestation in Falls Reserve Conservation Area along a section of our trail.

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.  If you’re doing the full hike on Sunday, you’ll pass through this area about an hour into the hike.



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. This is for safety reasons.

A small food container.  This year we’ll be doing our utmost to eliminate garbage from the event. If for no other good reasons, it will reduce our expenses and the work we have to do before and after.  For the snacks that you’ll get at the check points, we ask that you bring a small, reusable food container.

A sun hat, sun screen, bug repellent, after-bite, 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.

We suggest you put your name on your gear (hats, keys, poles, etc.). If you get separated, chances are much greater that you’ll be reunited.

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 Joe Friday’s is the place, 92 The Square, in Goderich.  They’re open 4pm-1am.  From 7-8pm, a few of our Camino Committee volunteers will be there to answer any questions you have.  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, you’ll be shuttled to your start point on the trail. Then, you hike back to your car.

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 2019 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.

Here is a zipped Google Earth file with the important locations for the weekend. This will be downloaded to your computer where you can unzip it, double-click, and it will open in Google Earth if you have it installed on your computer.  If you don’t have Google Earth, give it a try and let me know what happens.

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 very 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 40 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!  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 cash 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.
Please bring a small food container to receive your snacks.

What’s for supper?

This year, our Saturday Supper will be at the Royal Canadian Legion in Goderich.  It’ll be a relaxed buffet, served from 6-8pm.  Doors open at 5:30. A cash bar will be available for the duration. 

On the menu: 

Crudités with hummus  satisfying and crunchy
Entrees created by
Sweet Love Eats (Shepherd’s Pie, Vegetarian Lasagna, Vegan Black Bean and Sweet Potato Enchilada)
Sourdough Bread by Red Cat Bakery, with real butter
Savoury Salad of local organic greens from Firmly Rooted, with balsamic vinaigrette
A selection of desserts including pumpkin spice cake with cream cheese icing, chocolate cake with chocolate and caramel sauce, cheesecake with local sour cherry or blueberry topping, and watermelon
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.  *The Eldon St Guest House is booked for the summer, but is accepting reservations directly by phone 519-955-4402.

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

  UPDATE: We’ve been told this is no longer available.

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 Camino 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 2019 T-shirt – 100% ring spun cotton, available in Indigo, and Deep Purple.

MTA ROCKS – 100% cotton, 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 BCH and the Pavillion after 11am.

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?

About 2 weeks before the event, we’ll be sending the Hiker’s Info Package. 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 ( $ ).

Can I bring my fees to check-in?

No. See below ‘When are fees due?’

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

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 2019).  There will be no refunds after September 8th.  If you’d like to simply donate your fees to MTA, let us know and we’ll happily send you a charitable receipt after the event.

When are fees due?  

Fees must be paid within 2 weeks of registering or September 8, whichever comes first.  We’ll send reminders if we don’t hear from you.  If we get no response after 3 reminders, we’ll assume you’ve changed your mind and we’ll deregister you.  However, we understand that stuff happens, and maybe you gave us an incorrect email address or maybe your email client is filtering out what we send.  So if you haven’t heard from us, *please* contact us.  Your spot isn’t guaranteed unless you’ve received your final confirmation.


If you’d like an End-to-End badge, they’ll be available for sale at the end of the hike on Sunday for $4 each (cash only)

Let us know if there’s anything we haven’t covered above.