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Las Trampas Regional Wilderness

Date: (Sun.) Nov. 2, 2008
Location: San Ramon, CA
Event Director: - 925.699.3127
Course Setter: Mark Blair
Type: B; White, Yellow, and Orange courses are standard. The 4 advanced courses will have a "creative twist".

Course Setter's Notes


Even by BAOC standards, the oak and grassland hillsides of Las Trampas Regional Wilderness can be a little rugged. But that's all part of its charm. And that's also why we traditionally save this event until sometime during the last two months of the year, when mild temperatures make the slogging up those slopes a whole lot easier.

We'll also continue another Las Trampas tradition that's emerged in recent years, which tends to keep the wildness down: All courses will be confined to the lower third of the park south of Bollinger Canyon Road, where the terrain is much more open and the canyons are considerably less steep than in the savage forests of the upper two-thirds.

The Courses

The "standard 7" courses will be provided. But since only the lower third of the park will be used, this leaves us with a smaller area than that of a typical BAOC wilderness event. So we sometimes use this as an excuse to do something a little creative with some of the courses. This is one of those times.

First, the specs:

  Course    Length    Climb   Controls   Difficulty
  White     2.4 km     75 m       9      Easy Beginner
  Yellow    2.5 km    172 m      13      Beginner
  Orange    3.6 km    240 m      11      Intermediate
  Brown     3.5 km    255 m      10      Hard
  Green     4.1 km    345 m      12      Harder
  Red       5.2 km    360 m      13      Brutal
  Blue      5.8 km    405 m      14      Abandon all hope

Electronic punching (e-punch) will be used on all the courses.

Special note for Yellow course runners: This course will take you through the Little Hills Ranch next to the parking lot we'll be using for this event. You will enter this area through a pedestrian gate next to a larger green gate at the front of the ranch. You'll exit the area through a gated opening in the barbed wire fence at the back.

The Yellow course also traverses a small area where the trails are obscured by a covering of fallen leaves. Don't worry. There will always be a nearby fence, also shown on your map, that you can use as a guide.

For advanced courses only: All utility pole lines and almost all trails will be left off the map. This will add a bit more navigational challenge to those courses in a way that we hope will provide some worthwhile map-focus training for BAOC's O' in the Oaks '08 A-meet coming up on November 14-16. Since we've increased the technical challenge, we've accordingly decreased the physical challenge: All advanced courses will be a little shorter than usual.

Maps for the White, Yellow, and Orange courses will show all trails, utility pole lines, and other features as they ordinarily would.

Map and Terrain

Like all orienteering maps, the BAOC Las Trampas map has its own "personality". This map was field checked and drawn by George Kirkov in 2002. Since then, many of the man-made features, especially fences, have changed quite a bit. We have corrected the map to reflect these changes in all the areas where any course runner is likely to set foot.

Important: The interval between adjacent contour lines on the map is 7.5 meters, not the usual 5-meter contour interval found on most orienteering maps. Slopes can turn out to be a lot steeper than they may appear from a casual glance at the map. Visualize 3 contour lines for every 2 lines you see on the Las Trampas map, and that will give you an idea of how steep the terrain would appear on a map with the typical 5-meter contour interval.

The terrain is also deceptively rugged in another way: The upper parts of many of the steeper streambeds and re-entrants actually have sides that are almost vertical, even though they are not indicated as gullies on the map. Such gullies are impassable, or passable only with great difficulty. Rule of thumb: If it's a particularly steep-looking portion of a stream or re-entrant, do not plan on crossing it.

Green point features are also mapped in a curious style. A lone tree (a single tree not touching any other trees) can be indicated on the map as a green "X" or a green "O". The same applies to a distinguished tree (a tree that stands out clearly from its neighbors in some way).

Hazards And Precautions

Because it's autumn and because almost all the trees in the park are deciduous, many areas are covered in fallen leaves. Since it's hardly rained yet, the ground underneath those leaves can be fairly hard. All of this, combined with the steep terrain, is a recipe for "slippery slope". If you intend to run an advanced course, you must wear cleats! Do not attempt to slither your way around one of these courses in old running shoes. On the Orange course as well, cleats or hiking shoes/boots with good traction are highly recommended.

Poison oak is always lurking somewhere on just about any vegetated hillside in the Bay Area. At Las Trampas, poison oak is present throughout the park in the forested areas. But it has spread very sparsely and it's almost always very low to the ground. The only places where you'll find it in bush form are impassable areas of thick vegetation shown in dark green on the map. At this time of year, poison oak has shed many of its leaves, so it's harder to spot, but less potent if you do happen to make contact.

Las Trampas Regional Wilderness is a popular area for equestrians, particularly the trails that will be traversed by participants on the White, Yellow, and Orange courses. If you come across a horse and rider, stop and wait for them to pass. Do not run past the horse! It might get spooked and throw the rider. Absolutely do not run out of the forest and suddenly pop onto a trail in front of a horse and rider. This is a surefire recipe for disaster.


Go punch 'em!