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Wilder Ranch State Park

Date: (Sun.) Aug. 19, 2012
Location: Santa Cruz, CA
Event Director: - 650.248.9595
Course Setter: Greg Favor
Type: C; Our first visit to this park since 2003 will be a 3-hour, mass-start Scramble

Please note that fees and time limits apply, unless otherwise mentioned below. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

We have received the permit for our August 19th event at Wilder Ranch State Park! BAOC last held an event at this park in 2003, so we're excited about orienteering here again, and hope you will join us for the Scramble that Greg Favor is designing.

The catch: the permit is expensive and limits us to 75 participants, so we are increasing our prices for this event to $25/$30 (members/non-members) to cover costs. In order to ensure that everyone who shows up gets to run, we will have pre-registration (but not pre-payment) — see below.

The format will be a mass start at 10 AM with a time limit of 3 hours.

Please note that there will not be beginner (White and Yellow) courses at this event. Such courses are normally offered at BAOC events, but they will not be offered at this event because of the restrictions of the permit. We apologize to those who would have liked to try a beginner course. Please consider attending the San Francisco Presidio event on September 16 — there will be beginner courses (in a very scenic park).

However, the Scramble format is specifically designed for beginners. You don't need expert map reading skills — but you should have at least one person on the team who is experienced reading contour maps (such as USGS topographic maps) for hiking. We encourage you to go in teams, but you can go solo. The Scramble format is not, however, designed for very young children. Three hours of cross-country trekking can wear young kids out. It is best for teenagers and up.

From the 2003 event announcement: The park has 4,505 acres, with 34 miles of hiking, biking and equestrian trails winding through coastal terraces and valleys. Several restored buildings once belonging to the Wilder family are preserved. The park has tours and living history demonstrations to help visitors explore the history of early ranchers and farmers along the Central Coast. The site was originally the main rancho supplying Santa Cruz Mission. It later became a successful and innovative dairy ranch. Surrounding grounds include Victorian homes, gardens, and historic adobe.

Online Sign Up

As of 6am the day of the event, we have 25 openings, so you can still show up without pre-registration.

Please contact the meet director, , if you have any questions.

Event Notes

Note: This Scramble is open to individuals competing alone (soloists) as well as teams.

Event Schedule

Event Fee

Participation costs $25 each for BAOC members, $30 each for non-members. Please pay at registration with cash or check.


Prizes will be awarded to the top team or individual in the following categories:

Individuals compete in the Overall, Men, Women, Youth, and Masters categories. Teams or individuals can win in multiple categories, but will only receive one prize.

Gear to Bring

The Rules


Safety Bearing

If you become lost, head south to Highway 1.

Course Setter's Notes

The Course

Forty challenging, interesting, and/or beautiful checkpoints will be scattered throughout the park, extending from ocean bluffs at the southern end of the park, up to the upper reaches of the park in the Santa Cruz Mountains. The course should be a little faster paced than typical, with an average (straight-line) distance between checkpoints of roughly 1/4 mile. A very strong team may (or may not) be able to "clear the course".

There will be a lot of opportunity for travel on trails, combined with lots of short to moderate stretches off-trail.


The event center / registration will be in the Cultural Preserve Area, a 0.2 mile walk east from either the official parking lot within the park, or from parking alongside Hwy 1 (which is 0.1 mile east of the park entrance). This area is on the south side of Hwy 1 and is a small complex of historic buildings and fenced-in corrals, with the event center located on the central and largest lawn. The Start will be a further 0.2 mile walk from the registration area.

The current weather forecast (a week in advance) suggests a very nice event day — partially cloudy and around 70 degrees.

The Terrain

Wilder Ranch is located on Hwy 1 just west of Santa Cruz and the UCSC campus. It extends from ocean front bluffs and beaches on the southern side of Hwy 1, across to the north side of Hwy 1 where most of the park then stretches up into the Santa Cruz Mountains.

The park consists of areas of open grassland, of scattered and more than just scattered brush, and of slow to dense forest.

The Map

The map was created roughly ten years ago. While largely accurate, various natural and man-made changes have occurred over the years. All notable and relevant updates have been made to the map. The two notable caveats are the following:

Areas shown as "white" open forest have largely come to have moderate to dense undergrowth. Traveling through "white" may occasionally be reasonable, but generally is discouraged. Areas of steeper terrain also coincide with these "white" areas. The simple rule, especially for route planning, is to not try and go through "white" areas.

Areas shown as "tan" rough open, now vary between grassland, grassland with scattered brush, and moderately dense brush that can be slow to travel through. Places where you may be readily motivated to travel off-trail across a stretch of "tan" (say to get to a checkpoint) will generally be travel-friendly. Conversely, in areas where the "tan" has become denser brush, checkpoints are placed closer to trails and it is probably better to leverage the trails.

Please also note that the rangers have "encouraged" us to limit travel across the big stretches of open pastures/grassland. Especially in the areas near the Start and to the northwest — where other park visitors and rangers may be present — please keep this in mind. The course has been designed to minimize motivations to do this.

Note that there is one large, clearly marked, out-of-bounds area in the southern part of the map, on the north side of Hwy 1. There is also a section of an official park trail that is closed due to erosion, with small dirt berms and cables at the two ends; this is marked on the map. An alternate or "detour" trail has been created that connects between the two ends of this section; this trail has been added to the map.

Within the building and fence complex of the Cultural Preserve Area, do not climb over the fences (there is no need to do this during the event).


There will be two water drops: at the northern/upper end of the park, and near the southern end at the event center. For strong competitors — who will have a chance to pass by the northern location — carrying water is still strongly encouraged. For the majority of people, carrying water is also encouraged unless you end up staying in the lower third of the park.

Poison oak should be very limited and avoidable — as long as you don't try to travel through "open forest / white" areas that now have moderate to dense undergrowth.

Driving Directions

The park is about 4 miles west of Santa Cruz, driving northbound on Highway 1. The parking lot is immediately south of Highway One, with the entrance about 1.8 miles past the Western Drive stoplight. There is a sign for the park — turn south at the sign. Please note that there is a day-use fee of $10.00 per vehicle. Parking on Highway 1 is free.

There's a map here that shows the location of the event.