Photo gallery image (click to enlarge)

Presidio of San Francisco

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 16, 2012
Location: San Francisco, CA
Event Director: - 415.453.3679
Course Setter: Chuck Spalding
Type: C; National Orienteering Day at the Presidio in San Francisco -- an event for beginners to come out and try orienteering -- and for experienced people to stretch their legs

Course Setter's Notes


Welcome to the Presidio of San Francisco. This is an ideal location for beginning and intermediate orienteers, with relatively easy terrain and plenty of trails and buildings to navigate by. Experienced orienteers and adventure runners should have a few challenges on the Orange and Long Orange courses, as well as a good workout.

If you read no farther, be sure to note that the Registration/Start/Finish area has changed again this year!

The courses provide scenic views as well as some interesting route-choice alternatives. The beginner (White and Yellow) courses might be a bit more difficult than usual, because there are so many decision points, but the map is sufficiently accurate that careful reading and attention will be successful. The White course has the controls located to simplify the decision-making process. The Orange courses will take you to areas that you haven't seen before.

Short, repeating beginner's clinics will be available from 9:30 AM to 11:30 AM in the Registration area. They provide an introduction to orienteering, and enough information to complete a beginner's course. Also, there will be an advanced clinic from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM.

We encourage school, scout, and JROTC groups to attend this event, but please expect to go out in groups no larger than three or four people. Larger groups tend to reduce the participation by the less-experienced group members.

Because this is an urban park with a high density of occupied housing, please respect property rights and out-of-bound areas (see related comments below).

Before you go to the Start, please write your name(s) clearly on both parts of the punch card, and write your car license (or description) on the small part of the card. Please do not tear off the stub.

While you're on your course, please do not yell or talk loudly. Other orienteers want to find the controls on their own. Also, you're in a urban area, and we want to be courteous to the residents and other park visitors.

Please carry a whistle with you in case you get injured. You can get one for free at the Registration table. Note that the whistle is to be used only for an emergency — it's not a toy. If you don't know the standard emergency signal, ask at Registration, at a beginner's clinic, or at the Start.

Restrooms are located near the Registration area. Please use only this restroom facility.

The large parking lot we have used in the past is available this year. Also, various parking is available on the east side of the fields that are just south of Storey Road. You might also find parking along Ralston Ave and between the buildings on Ralston Ave (i.e., near the assembly area).

Wherever you park, please be mindful of conserving space so we can fit in everyone's cars, and consider the affect your car might have on traffic, pedestrians, etc. (Also, be aware that the park police office is nearby, so there's a good chance they will see your car.)

The Registration area is not by the Log Cabin on Storey Road, where we were located last year. Registration, Start, and Finish are located where they have been in previous years. There are driving directions and a map on the event announcement page.

There could be other events going on in the park — please do not disturb them.

We hope you'll enjoy this special venue. Even better, contact Vic Revenko with an offer to help, even if you've never helped at an event before — the tasks are easy, and training is provided.

Since I'm fairly new at setting courses, I look forward to receiving feedback at the Finish.

Please check the website for last-minute updates to the event information.


Here are the details of the courses:

   Course       Length  Climb  Controls  Comments
   White        2.2 km   55 m     11     Beginner's course, no experience needed
   Yellow       3.3 km  105 m     10     Advanced beginners, mostly trail course
                                         requiring little orienteering experience
   Orange       4.9 km  145 m     10     Intermediate, long, off-trail course,
                                         of moderate difficulty.  Requires some
   Long Orange  7.7 km  260 m     15     Intermediate, longer, off-trail course
                                         of moderate difficulty.  Great for
                                         energetic orienteers of all levels.
                                         A great runner's course.

The White, Yellow, and Orange courses are shorter than last year, with less climb. The Long Orange course is longer than last year, but with less climb — it's truly a runner's course.

Note for beginners: The course lengths are measured along the straight lines connecting the controls. Since you can seldom travel along those straight lines, you will cover a greater distance. The climb numbers are estimates of how much ascending will be done while following the "optimum" route, without regard for any descending that is done. The distance and climb that you will actually experience will depend on your route choices and any errors you make.

Course Comments

Electronic punching will not be used at this event.

You must check in at the Finish whether or not you complete your course. We will not search for anyone, because this is an open urban park, but we'll sleep better if we know you have returned safely. Courses close at 2:00 PM. All participants must return to the Finish by then.

As always, there's a chance that you will see controls that are not on your course. Be sure to check the control codes when you punch.

The scale of the map for the White and Yellow courses is 1:7500. The scale of the maps for the Orange courses is 1:10000. The contour interval for all the courses is 20 feet (6.1 m).

The White course can be completed on roads, walkways, and trails. Some dirt trails will be used, but use of a child stroller on the course should be okay.

The Yellow course will require looking for some controls that are a short distance off nearby trails, walkways, or roads. Those controls might not be visible from the trail, etc. Read your map carefully, and you'll find the controls.

In addition to being longer courses, navigation on the Orange courses is somewhat more difficult because of longer legs that involve route choices that are less clear. Because there are so many features on the map, navigation is not very challenging for advanced orienteers, but you'll have an opportunity to practice things like planning ahead and reading the map on the run.

Water is available at the Start and Finish, at one control on the Yellow course, at one control on the Orange course, and at two controls on the Long Orange course. There is also a water fountain indicated on the map near a control on the Orange courses. However, if it's a hot day, or if you think you'll take a long time, you might want to carry some water.

Note: There will be trash bags at the water controls. Please take the time to put your cup in the bag, so we won't be littering the park.

Out-Of-Bounds Areas

There are many out-of-bounds areas on the map, which will affect your route choices. Please do not cut through those areas except on established, mapped, "official" trails or paths. In some cases, there are fences that will help you remember this rule. In other cases, you will need to keep in mind that you could seriously jeopardize our permission to hold future events if you trespass on private property or enter closed areas.

In the housing areas, you must stay on mapped, public trails, walkways, and roads. Do not cross private lawns or cut between houses. Take careful note that the streets in most residential areas are in bounds, even though the adjacent properties are out of bounds. Look closely at your map.

If you happen to go through the golf course area, note that only the mapped through road is in bounds. The fairways and all cart paths (including those on the edges of the golf course property) are out of bounds.


The greatest hazard is car and bicycle traffic. All the courses will involve using and crossing roads. Be particularly careful to look for bicyclists. Your safety is much more important than your course time!

There is poison oak in spots on the Yellow, Orange, and Long Orange courses. Long pants are strongly recommended on those courses.

The Yellow, Orange, and Long Orange courses might climb and/or descend some steep, slippery slopes. That might lead you to think about wearing cleated shoes. However, be aware that a lot of your travel will be on pavement. Most people will want to wear regular running shoes — just be extra careful on the slopes.

Also, the Yellow, Orange, and Long Orange courses might involve traveling on sandy ground. That's not a hazard, but it might influence your choice of footwear.

The Map

Everyone should be aware that the map is not perfect. Because of the evolving nature of the park, there will always be inaccuracies on the map. In particular, be aware that there are trails that are not shown on the map, and some of the mapped trails, and even some streets, might not be shown exactly correctly. If you don't have the patience to deal with a map that isn't perfect, this might not be the event for you.

Thankfully, most of the construction activity has been completed in the Presidio! Bob Cooley has done a great job of updating the map to reflect all the changes that have been made in the last year, but we might have missed something. Also, more work might have been done since the latest map corrections, and we had no way to predict them. The courses have been designed to stay clear of construction activity, but there might be some "surprises".