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Burton Creek State Park

Date: (Sat.) Jun. 25, 2005
Location: Tahoe City, CA
Event Director: - 916.632.8856
Course Setter: Dwight Freund (GCO)
Type: B; This is a joint BAOC-GCO event

Summer is a great time to head to Lake Tahoe, and Burton Creek State Park near Tahoe City is a wonderful place for a summer orienteering meet. Summer wildflowers should be plentiful, and the lake full of snowmelt. BAOC and Gold Country Orienteers (GCO) are joining forces for this event, the only Tahoe meet of the summer.


The schedule will be later than normal to accommodate people driving up from the Bay Area in the morning.

Registration will be from 11:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m., with starts available from 11:30 a.m. until 2:00. Courses will close at 4:00 p.m.

Electronic punches will be used on all, or nearly all, of the courses. BAOC’s new fees ( will be in effect. We also will be using BAOC’s new fast-track envelope registration for those BAOC and GCO participants whose e-punch sticks are in the BAOC database (bring exact change or a check).


Dwight Freund is setting the usual seven courses. The statistics are below. See the Course Setter's Notes for more information.

  Course    Length    Climb    Controls    Difficulty
  White     2.4 km     25 m       8        First-timer
  Yellow    3.5        50        12        Beginner
  Orange    4.2        55         9        Intermediate
  Brown     3.9        60         7        Advanced
  Green     4.8        75        11        Substantial
  Red       6.6       125        14        Challenging
  Blue      8.7       145        20        Rigorous


Burton Creek State Park offers some of the most interesting orienteering terrain in Northern California. Terrain in California is notoriously known as being very steep, but Burton Creek is significantly flatter, with only mild to moderate climb. In fact, large areas of the park are very runnable. The park is used as a cross-country ski area in the winter.

Vegetation varies from meadow-like clearings covered with wildflowers, to pine forest, to brush and chaparral. There is no poison oak in the Lake Tahoe basin. The density of rock features varies from sparse to moderate. Some parts of the terrain have many boulders, which vary in size from 0.5 m to 5 m, with 1-2 m being the most common. The trail system ranges from moderate to relatively dense in the northeastern part of the park. There are a few small streams, only one or two of which are usually active in June. The altitude ranges from about 6800 to 7100 feet.


The climate in late June is usually sunny, with a high temperature of 65-75 degrees F. Humidity will be relatively low. Depending on the previous winter, there is a small chance that there still may be snow on the ground.


The map scale is 1:10000 with 5-meter contours, and is generally quite good. It was made by George Kirkov in 1999, and Zoran Krivokapic made a number of map corrections in 2002. Generally, it is a good map.

The contours are reliable, and most of the rock features are well mapped. However, Kirkov was inconsistent when he mapped boulders. In areas with few rock features, he would map a boulder as small as 0.5 m, whereas in areas with a higher density of rock features, he would not map these small boulders, but he would use the boulder-field symbol (the small isosceles black triangle) to indicate multiple boulders scattered in the area. Large boulders are usually 2 meters high or larger.

The large clearings are quite reliable. However, there are numerous small clearings that may be difficult to discern and should not be relied on for navigation. Similarly, individual trees (green X's), small copses (green O's), and the brown X (either a rootstock, large stump, or standing dead tree) are sometimes difficult to discern in the field. In addition, many stumps and downed trees are not mapped. Therefore, these symbols may not be the most reliable features to use for navigation.

There are new unmapped logging tracks here and there. Don't be surprised if you see a short but obvious unmapped track to a clearing just off a main logging road. There is also a road-to-trail conversion project being undertaken in the park, so some of the trails may be slightly different than mapped.


The biggest hazard is probably the altitude. You will be competing at 6200 feet. One of the best ways to decrease some of the effects of high altitude is to stay hydrated. Start drinking water about 1 hour before your start, and drink water at all of the water stops. If it is warm, it is even more important to stay hydrated.

There are no rattlesnakes or poison oak. Black bears are occasionally seen, but they usually are not aggressive. Be alert for mountain bikers on the trails.

Driving Directions

Burton Creek is on the northwest side of Lake Tahoe in the Sierras. To get there, take Highway 80 to Truckee. Exit at Hwy 89, and drive south to Tahoe City. At the "Y" intersection, go north (straight ahead) on Hwy 28 (North Lake Boulevard) about 2 miles, and turn left on Fabian Way (there's a 7-11 store on the opposite side of the highway).

Make an immediate right onto Village Road, and follow it as it veers to the right. Turn left at the third intersection onto Polaris Drive. Go to the end of the street, and follow signs for parking near North Tahoe High School. There is construction at the high school, so look for signs indicating the parking areas.