Joe Grant

San Jose
Sunday, Nov. 12, 2000

Contact: Abby Wolfe, 408-979-1735

Joe Grant County Park is the largest park in the Santa Clara County system and one of BAOC's premier orienteering venues. Located in the Mt. Hamilton range east of San Jose, the park features large, open meadows, oak-studded hillsides, and grassy pine forest in its higher reaches. It's noted for its runnability (relative to Bay Area standards), interspersed with the occasional climb up one of the park's steep hillsides.

For this event, the beginner and advanced courses will be held in separate areas of the park, so advanced orienteers can run in relatively unfamiliar terrain. Registration for all courses is in the San Felipe picnic area inside the park's main entrance (look for O' signs). Beginner/intermediate courses are in the same spot; advanced orienteers will take a shuttle to the advanced competition area. Please read the appropriate sections below for more details; advanced orienteers should pay special attention to the shuttling arrangements.

Maps are not premarked, so you will copy your course from a master map. There are also map corrections, as the map is 8 years old and trails and vegetation have changed. Map corrections for all courses will be near Registration; the White course master maps will also be there, so beginners can copy their courses before going to the Start. Everyone else (Yellow through Blue) will mark their courses after they start, on the clock. The advanced courses will have electronic punching, so advanced orienteers must bring their e-cards or rent them at registration.

Beginner & Intermediate Courses

Joe Grant is a great park to try orienteering for the first time - rural, scenic, yet not too far from civilization. Steve Beuerman has set the White, Yellow, and Orange, which start and finish near Registration and cover the nearby relatively flat, open terrain. White is completely on trails. Yellow is near trails but you will gain an advantage (and save climb and fence crossings) by going cross-country between controls. Orange is cross-country, and requires more navigation and physical effort.
          Length   Climb   Controls   Navigation                Physicality   
White     3.1 km    40 m      9       beginner (on trails)      easy
Yellow    3.5 km    95 m     10       advanced beginner         moderate
                                        (some off-trail)        
Orange    4.9 km   230 m     10       intermediate (off-trail)  a bit strenuous
When you register, you will receive a map, punch card, and course description sheet that matches the course you've chosen. Before going to the Start, visit the map corrections table and copy down the changes for your course; there have been trail and fence changes that will be useful. If you've never orienteered before, take a beginner's clinic; they are being held 9:30-10:30 near Registration. If you are doing White, you will also copy your course from a master map before going to the Start.

Hazards: If you are doing Yellow or Orange, be sure to wear long pants, as there is poison oak and star thistle in this park. You will see thickets of poison oak on Orange, but you can easily go around it. Just keep an eye out - this time of year, the leaves are mostly gone, and you just see innocent-looking twig thickets. You may also encounter cows and wild pigs, mainly on Orange. Both will avoid you, so don't be alarmed.

Important: You MUST check in at the Finish, whether or not you complete your course. This is the only way we know you have returned safely; otherwise, we must contact the park rangers and initiate a search-and-rescue effort. Also, you have 3 hours or until 2:00 to finish your course, whichever comes first. At 2:00 we will begin shutting down and collecting controls, so you must be back by then. Please carry a whistle with you for emergencies; if you don't have one, they are free at Registration.

There are picnic tables and restrooms, so bring a lunch and socialize after doing your course!

Advanced Courses

Thorsten Graeve has set the advanced courses among the grassy, oak- and pine-covered ridges in the eastern section of the park. This terrain was last used for the 1997 Sprint championships and should be fairly unfamiliar to most of you. The forest is open and very runnable, with many fast, flat sections and, of course, the occasional steep hillside. There is very little poison oak, with the exception of an area near the Start and some hillsides along the second half of Red and Blue. This poison oak is easily avoidable, although the plants have lost their leaves and are a bit harder to identify.
          Length        Climb      Controls 
Brown     3.5 km        200 m         8        
Green     4.5 km        270 m        11        
Red       5.9 km        350 m        14        
Blue      7.5 km        450 m        18        
The map is still quite good despite its age. Vegetation boundaries are still accurate, with the exception that many smaller clearings have been encroached by young pine trees. When you get to a clearing, think of the surrounding mature oak forest as outlining its boundary, rather than the 10-15 foot pine trees, and it will match the mapped shape quite nicely. Areas that have been mapped as green can represent manzanita, dense pine forest, or poison oak thickets. Some small mapped trails can be hard to find in places. On the other hand, there are many deer and cattle trails that can be very helpful in contouring along the hillsides. Finally, there are a few shallow reentrants that are not mapped, so don't rely solely on small contour features in your navigation.

You will be copying your course from a master map, and the courses loop around and cross over each other, so make sure to mark the control numbers on your map and remember to punch them in the correct order. Also be sure to copy the map corrections before you board the shuttle to the Start/Finish area!

Safety notes: The only course with a fence crossing is Blue. If you find yourself scrooching under a fence, please turn back. You're probably not where you think you are. Other obvious catching features are the major park trails that surround the competition area. Make sure to carry your whistle and to return to the finish by 2:00. The e-punch units will turn off shortly after 2:00, so you will automatically DNF if you stay out too long!

There are no restrooms at the advanced Start/Finish area (but plenty of woods), although there is one at the Twin Gates parking area (see below). We will have water at the start/finish, but you may want to bring your own beverages if you're going to stay and socialize for a while.

Shuttle to Advanced Courses

The advanced competition area is near the Smith Creek Fire Station, about 7 km up Mt. Hamilton Road from the main entrance. To reach it, you must take a shuttle from the designated pickup point near Registration. Do NOT attempt to drive your own car up, as there is no parking at the Fire Station and we have been warned not to park on the roadside.

From the shuttle dropoff it's a 500-meter walk to the Start/Finish area. Make sure you register, make your map corrections, and have your e-punch card before boarding a shuttle, and allow 30 minutes for the trip and walk. Bring a picnic lunch and hang out at the finish before taking a shuttle back to the parking lot. Results will be posted nearby.

Shuttle runs will start at 9:30, and shuttles will leave the pickup point every 15 minutes or so. In order to get everyone up and back, we need your cooperation. Arrive early if you can (you can get one of the first shuttles!), and be ready to leave when the shuttle arrives. We have only 2-3 vans, and the faster you board, the sooner they can leave and the more trips they can make.

Note: There is a carpooling alternative, but it requires your cooperation to make it work, and everyone may not be able to do it. There is a new 19-car parking area called Twin Gates about 1 km from the advanced start area, at the Bohnhoff trail head (look for the O' parking sign). If you want to carpool, meet at the shuttle pickup point, pick a driver, and stuff at least 4 people into each car, in order to maximize the number of people we can bring up in 19 cars. If the lot becomes full, you'll have to drop off your passengers and come back down and wait for a shuttle (remember: no road or fire station parking).

We will be running a short shuttle from this parking area to the advanced start area, so you don't have to walk in from there unless you want to. If you do walk, you must walk along the road to the fire station; the trails are off-limits as they are in the competition area. Anyone seen arriving on the trails will be disqualified.

Help Wanted

A big meet with two starts and finishes, plus a shuttle, means we need more volunteers than usual. Plus, we are expecting several groups of Scouts for the WYO courses. We know there have been a lot of meets this fall, but please help us out by volunteering for an hour or two before or after your run. No experience necessary; we offer on-the-job training. Contact Abby Wolfe to offer your services.


Take the Alum Rock Avenue exit off either Hwy 101 or I-680 in San Jose, and head for the hills (east). (This exit is about one mile northeast of the 280/680/101 interchange.) Continue on Alum Rock Road for about 2 miles, and turn right onto Mt. Hamilton Road. Drive for about 9 miles; the park entrance will be on your right. Pay the $3 vehicle fee at the kiosk and follow the O' signs to parking and registration near the San Felipe picnic area.