Big Basin

Boulder Creek
Saturday, Sept. 28, 2002

Contact: Stacy and Gerry Goss,, (408) 248-8206

Welcome to Big Basin, land of the giant redwoods! What better way to celebrate the Big Basin centennial than a romp amongst the trees. I've set up what should be some fun courses. Syd and Trevor vetted the courses and seemed to have a good time.

Doug Stein will be setting the advanced courses while Dennis Wildfogel will be setting the beginner and intermediate courses. All 7 courses will be offered. There will be a remote start of about 1.25k with 175 meters of climb for the advanced courses; the White, Yellow and Orange courses will have both the start and finish within 100m of the assembly area. Our permit is limited to 200 people. If you are planning on bringing a group of 10 or more people to this event, please contact the meet directors prior to the event.

Course     Distance     Climb     Controls   Navigation    Physical
Blue       6.5km        370m      19         Advanced      Oppressive
Red        4.9km        300m      15         Advanced      Tough
Green      3.8km        200m      11         Advanced      Hard
Brown      2.8km        150m      9          Advanced      Moderate

The orienteering at Big Basin is very technically challenging due to low visibility and copious features, some of which are mapped. It is also very physical because of the steepness of the hills and those gigantic logs to go over, under or around. This probably isn't the place to try moving up a course.

Whistles are mandatory! We'll be checking for whistles at the start. If you don't have a whistle, pick one up at registration. E-punch will be used for all the advanced courses, so don't forget to bring your e-card. E-cards are available to rent at registration.

Directions to start (this will be a map in the hardcopy version): To get to the start for the advanced courses from the registration area, go west across the bridge and then make an immediate left onto the foot path. Follow the path about 100m to a t-junction. (There'll be a White control hanging there.) Turn right and continue uphill until reaching the finish. It is another 200m to the start from there.

There is a remote start for all advanced courses. A map to the start is shown above. The walk to the start is 1.1km with 150m of climb. Also, the finish is 200m from the start and is on the way to the start. So if somehow it is cold, you can bring warm-ups and leave them at the finish, or you might want to bring refreshments such as sports drinks to leave at the finish. Most likely the weather will be warm, especially later in the day, so be sure to be fully hydrated before going out on the course. There is water on the course and at the start and finish, but it helps to get a head start.

The start staging area is indicated by the water symbol on the map above, but this is not the location of the start triangle. A starting time will be assigned at the staging area. When it is your time to start, punch the start punch and then follow the streamers to the map boxes. The start triangle on the course map corresponds to the location of the map boxes.

Make absolutely certain to download at registration before you leave, whether you finish the course or not. All courses close at 2pm, so if you aren't going to make it by 2pm please return to the finish. You must check in at the finish and download at registration because this is how we figure out who is still out on the course. If you forget to download we'll think you're lost and will send out a search party to look for you. Also, please check in at the finish as well even if you haven't gotten all the controls. That's a total of two places to check in: the finish AND registration.

Map notes:

Green: The boundary between light green and white is not distinct, whereas the boundary between dark green and either light green or white is easier to distinguish. The light green is branchy stuff with poor footing that can be gotten through okay. The dark green is mostly impregnable manzanita bushes.

Logs: Lots of them. Most are not mapped. Generally only the very long or huge logs are mapped, although this is not entirely consistent. The brown X with a black lines attached is a root stock at the end of a down tree.

Redwood circles: These are neat. They are formed when a big redwood tree dies and little trees grow out of the roots of the big tree in a circle around it. Redwood circles are indicated on the clue sheet as an unbroken circle and are shown on the map as a set of black dots arranged in a circle.

Steep: Big Basin is not flat. I've attempted to keep climb to a minimum, but all advanced courses go through some steep areas. Wear shoes with good traction as the slopes can be slippery.

Runnability and route choice: Some parts of the forest are quite runnable, but in some places debris on the ground make for tough going, especially if contouring or going uphill on steep terrain. Downhill is fast and quite fun until you blow past the control. Consider routes that use trails as they are lower risk, and you can move faster and with less effort. But, also keep in mind that the courses have been set such that off-road routes often take less time if executed well.

Mapping consistency: Not all areas of the map are created equal. The mapping in the immediate vicinity of the controls is pretty good, but there can be some weirdness in between controls. If you get lost and can't seem to get a handle on where you are, the best relocation strategy is probably to head for the nearest road or trail. Or if that isn't a good option you might want to go back to a previous control. Or look for a sign post (see "Black X's").

Black X's: There are some black X's on the map. These are typically little brown signs labeling the various redwood groves found throughout the park. Not all signs are mapped, but the ones that are mapped I've found to be very accurate. Some of the black X's near roads and trails are benches.


Take I-880 or I-280 to Highway 17. Go south over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Exit at Mount Hermon Road in Scott's Valley and go right 3 miles to Highway 9. Turn right and proceed about 6 miles to the town of Boulder Creek. Turn left on Highway 236 and go 9 miles to Park Headquarters.

From the West Bay, a shorter scenic winding alternative is to take Highway 85 to the Sunnyvale-Saratoga exit (also known as South DeAnza Blvd.), go south to the town of Saratoga, turn right on Highway 9 (Big Basin Way), and follow this 2-lane road up, over and down the mountain, about 13 miles in total, to the north end of Highway 236. Turn right on Highway 236 and go about 8 miles to Park Headquarters.

Once you reach the Park Headquarters, enter the parking area (fee required), and follow the O-signs and the road north until you reach the registration area. Park along the road just beyond the registration area.