Stage 42: From Los Arcos to Logroño

From Navarre to Rioja


Today, the route heads to Rioja. These are the last jumpss of Navarre, sometimes on wide pathways crossing the Meseta, but also in small dales, where the track likes to follow the national road that leads to Logroño. No highway today, too bad! On the way, the path crosses two beautiful medieval villages, Torres del Rio and Viana. When you walk on the Camino francés, you can still understand why Europe has made this course a real path of exception. The heritage is truly of great wealth in the country, unique, almost of medieval appearance, when in fact, the buildings were erected most of the time after the XVIth century. But the XVIth century is old enough, right? At the end of the route, the path leaves Navarre for Rioja.

Rioja has no history of its own. For centuries, the territory has been at the heart of incessant conflicts between the kingdoms of Navarre and Castile, and this since the Xth century. In the XIIth century, it became a part of Castile. It obtained a pseudo province status in the XIVth century, standing out from the big Castilian provinces of Soria and Burgos. It was not until the “Spanish democratic transition”, from 1975 to 1982, that the process that led to the death of Franco created a real democracy in Spain. The autonomy status of Rioja dates from 1982, when the region finally broke away from the old Castile.

Slope variations today (+369 meters/-411 meters) are low for a stage of nearly 28 kilometers. The Camino francés remains a low altitude course, even if you walk on a high plateau. But, do not doubt about it, there are still some nice bumps. The most tortuous passage is when the road passes near Sansol, then after when it makes efforts to avoid the national road along the small hills. But after Viana, it is the plain, even if the course makes still a small detour through the hills before reaching Logroño.

In this stage, there is a lot of paved road, because the approach of the city is on the tar. But, most of the journey is still on the roads. In Spain, apart from villages and towns, paved roads, for the most part, have grassy strips or dirt on the sides. Thus, the Camino francés is above all a true pathway, compared to other tracks of Compostela in Europe, where the courses are only halfway on dirt roads:


Paved road: 7.2 km

Pathways: 20.4 km

Sometimes, for reasons of logistics or housing possibilities, these stages mix routes operated on different days, having passed several times on Via Podiensis. From then on, the skies, the rain, or the seasons can vary. But, generally this is not the case, and in fact this does not change the description of the course.

To help you recognize trees, refer to the Botanical Summary in the general introduction to the track (in the menu in French, to be developed in English).

It is very difficult to specify with certainty the incline of the slopes, whatever the system you use. GPS watches, whether measuring barometric pressure or altimetry, are hardly more convincing than estimates based on mapped profiles.

There are very few sites on the Internet that can be used to estimate slopes from maps (up to 3). Since these programs are based on an approximation and an average around the desired point, there can be large variations from one software to another, depending on the state of the art or the variation between two points (for example a hole followed by a bump very close). Do you want an example? On the GR36 along the coast of Brittany, the altitude is rarely more than 50 meters above the sea. But the path only goes up and down. For a course of about twenty kilometres, a software will give you 800 meters of elevation gain, another 300 meters. Who says true? For having made the course several times, the legs say that the difference in altitude is closer to 800 meters! So how to proceed? We can rely on software, but, we must be careful, ignore slopes given, but only use altitudes. From there, it is only elementary mathematics to deduce the incline, considering the altitude and the distance travelled between two points whose altitude is known. It is this way of doing things that has been used in this site. Moreover, in retrospect, when one makes “in real” the course estimated on cartography, one notes that this way of doing is quite close to the truth of the ground. When one walks often, one has quite quickly the degree of slope in the eye.

We divided the course into sections to make it easier to follow. For each section, the maps give the route, the slopes found on the path and the state of the GR track. The courses were drawn on the “Wikilocs” platform. Today, it is no longer necessary to walk around with detailed maps in your pocket or bag. If you have a mobile phone or tablet, you can easily follow routes live. For this stage, here is the link:

Click here to start the stage on the first section. Avant

If you are not interested in the course, and you only require details information about lodging, you get enter this item.

Click here for details of lodgings. Avant