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China Camp State Park

Date: (Sun.) Jul. 26, 2009
Location: San Rafael, CA
Event Director: - 415.482.9055
Course Setter: Greg Ehrensing
Type: B; Standard seven-course event for beginners through advanced

Course Setter's Notes

By Greg Ehrensing

Welcome Back to China Camp! I'm making my first try at course setting in this longtime venue for BAOC. In a park known for steep terrain and thick manzanita, I've tried to moderate the climb, spreading it between the legs, and I've tried to keep everybody out of the manzanita thickets (though there's no accounting for some route choices...) I've also made an effort to use the western side of the park, where we haven't been in over five years. I've tended toward longer legs offering route choices, usually between a longer trail option or a shorter, more direct off-trail option, but have thrown in some short legs to keep you guessing.

Both Start and Finish will be at the picnic area in Miwok Meadows. There will not be a remote Start or Finish.

Course Statistics

  Course    Length    Climb   Controls   % Climb
  White     1.6 km     25 m       8       less 1
  Yellow    2.9 km     40 m       8       less 1
  Orange    4.0 km    145 m      12        3.7
  Brown     3.3 km    130 m      10        3.8
  Green     4.2 km    195 m      14        4.6
  Red       5.7 km    280 m      15        4.9
  Blue      7.3 km    375 m      16        5.1

Map Comments

The map is still generally good. The Park has elected to let some of the trails, especially those on the ridge lines, return to nature—though by this time of year most have seen enough traffic to still be distinct. In many areas the vegetation has grown in some. However, Sudden Oak Death has hit China Camp hard, meaning there are more "clearings" than the map may show. Where I have used clearings as control sites, they are distinct and true to the map. Dark green on the map is mostly impassable. Medium green is manzanita—passable, but usually on hands and knees. Light green is heavy undergrowth, passable at a walk. Lastly, the green X's and O's (which are meant to denote "lone" trees or "distinct" trees) have been used a little inconsistently and may be either one, and on the south-facing slopes (Blue course) may now represent the stumps of once lone trees.

Two areas have been marked "Out of Bounds": the salt marsh and the campground. The courses have been designed so that no route choice should take a runner through these areas. If do find yourself going near those areas, please stay out of them.


The White, Yellow, and Orange courses cross the paved road to reach the "island" hill on the north side. Be careful crossing the road—remember that your mother told you to look both ways before crossing the street!

Mountain bike traffic can be heavy on the main paths on the weekend. They are usually observant and courteous, but they might be traveling fast.

Poison Oak – It's the Bay Area, of course there's poison oak!

Heat – It will probably be hot, drink plenty of water!

Bees and yellowjackets – Mikkel Conradi, last year's Course Setter reminded me that bees and yellowjackets have been a problem in years past. I did find two beehives during my field work, and heard a third. None of the controls are near any of these sites, but bees are always busy and on the move. We'll take another look while setting out controls, and advise (or revise) if necessary.


There are steep areas on all the advanced courses. Shoes with good traction, or even cleats, are a good idea, more so the longer the course.

While the worst of the sticker season appears to be behind us, I strongly recommend long pants on Orange, and long pants and gaiters on the advanced courses.

If all this hasn't scared you off, please come join us for a great day of Orienteering at China Camp!