Controls from a master map at Calero Resevior

Insights on the Burton Creek State Park Permanent Course

By Judy Koehler (October 19, 2009)

This is the fourth in a series of articles on the "in's and out's" of the permanent courses available to Bay Area orienteers. Permanent courses can be a big help to those who want stress-free practice, or those wanting to improve their skill level.

The fourth park to be reviewed is Burton Creek State Park in Tahoe City. Access is at the end of Polaris Drive at North Tahoe High School. Be aware the elevation is over 6200 feet, and there is no water available in the park. Portable restrooms may or may not be available near the sports fields at the high school. Currently there is no fee collected for this park. Be prepared for horseback riders, mountain bikers, cross-country runners, and dogs off leash. The park is used for cross-country skiing in the winter.

To get maps of the Burton Creek permanent courses, start from the BAOC website, (on any page look for Permanent Courses in the left-hand menu). Follow the instructions in the Burton Creek State Park section.

There are three maps available: Short (3.7 km), Medium (6.6 km), and Long (9.8 km). The technical level is about the same on all three maps. Generally the marked control points are on major or distinct features, and are at an intermediate level with a few at an advanced level. The navigation, using a point-to-point attack, is at an advanced level. However, navigating a longer but easier route using the trails and fire roads would drop the navigation level to intermediate. The area is relatively flat and complex. The trails and fire roads are in good condition.

Be aware that the permanent courses were created in 2000 and the control markers have not been maintained. About half have disintegrated, and remaining ones have either been reduced to a post only or are damaged. There is no Start/Finish marker.

But excellent opportunities for orienteering practice still exist. Since almost all the control points were on prominent natural features (think big), or on distinct natural features, you will know if you have navigated correctly. If you want to check your navigation ability before committing further, the first five control markers on the Short course are still there, although not always standing.

There is a total of 32 different control points, with about half used on more than one map. The lack of descriptions on the clue sheets just provides an opportunity to use the map legend, and to read the finer map details more closely.

Please note that the Goshawk area in the northwest corner of the map is marked out-of-bounds. If you are using a map printed prior to our 2008 Burton Creek event, check with the BAOC to see if the out-of-bounds area has been expanded. It is very important that we respect the ranger's request so that we may continue to use this park.