Permanent White Course at Shell Ridge

Insights on the Joaquin Miller Park Permanent Course

By Judy Koehler (October 19, 2009)

This is the third 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 more experience for upcoming COOL or scouting events.

The third park to be reviewed is Joaquin Miller Park in Oakland. Joaquin Miller provides three challenging permanent courses: White (beginner), Yellow (advanced beginner), and Short Orange (intermediate).

The first step is to print the map and the instructions. Start from the BAOC website, (on any page look for Permanent Courses in the left-hand menu). Under Joaquin Miller Park, you will find links to the course maps and to general instructions.

When you visit the park, you will need a pen or pencil (crayons for children) to mark off your controls as you navigate the course. Be advised the park does have horseback riders, mountain bikers, and dogs off leash.

Joaquin Miller is a difficult park to have children on different courses. There are few shared controls, and the White course goes clockwise while the Yellow and Short Orange courses go counter clockwise. Also, all three courses cross Skyline Drive.

The map and the control markers are in very good condition. The only exception is that the Start-Finish post is laying on the ground in front of the signboard where it once stood. Be advised that Yellow control #3, while in it's correct spot, is only 1/2 the height of the other control posts.

Each course has one control with a little extra challenge. For the White course it is control #6, with an indistinct trail. For the Yellow course it is the navigation choice between controls #3 and #4. For the Orange course, control #1 has impregnable vegetation in front of the control, but navigating carefully around will lead to the control "standing tall" in the correct place.

What is notably unique about the Joaquin Miller permanent course is the availability of the "All Controls" map. If the individual courses already outlined don't meet your needs, the "All Controls" map allows you to design your own course. For example, with 2 children of different ages this can be something as simple as combining adjacent White and Yellow controls, and navigating them in the same direction. Conversely, a "hard" intermediate course can be designed using the most challenging terrain south of Skyline Drive. This could include some or all of the first half of the Yellow and Short Orange courses along with the controls not found on the White, Yellow, or Short Orange maps. These controls are JM (spur, SW side), MK (reentrant), and RS (boulder, SE side).

With the "All Controls" map, the possibilities of course design are almost endless for novices, for those working on map reading or navigation skills to move up a level, or for those wanting a challenge.

Above all, be safe and have fun.