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Presidio of San Francisco Wilderness Scramble

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 29, 2013
Location: San Francisco, CA
Event Director: - 415.895.6039
Course Setters: Graham Brew, Christine Brew
Type: C; National Orienteering Day event — Teams of 1 to 5 find up to 30 checkpoints in up to 3 hours in this scenic Bay Area park

Please note that this event will use non-standard event schedule and fees for the Wilderness Scramble. White and Yellow courses will have slightly modified fees, but the normal schedule. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

We're planning to hold the final event of BAOC's 2013 Wilderness Scramble Series at the Presidio in San Francisco. Along with a TrailCross event the previous day in Golden Gate Park, the Presidio Scramble coincides with National Orienteering Weekend. Our Presidio events in past years have attracted many newcomers to our sport, and we hope to continue this tradition! Invite your friends and co-workers! In addition to the Scramble (Score-O) courses, there will also be traditional White and Yellow (point-to-point) courses.

We are using every corner of this exciting urban map to bring you a variety of orienteering challenges at this event!

The focus of this event is the Scramble. This is an E-punch (electronic punching) event. Both 90-minute and 3-hour options are available. Controls are worth 10 to 60 points each, and there are nearly 40 controls in total. A "perfect" score, if all the controls are punched within the time limit, is 1000 points. Participants may choose to compete either solo or as part of a team.

There is a mass start at 10 AM for all Scramble entrants. Maps will be handed out to all teams at about 9:30, and instructions will be given (including a reiteration of these notes) before the mass start.

Registration will open at 8:45 AM. It is recommended that teams show up early, to avoid the rush to register closer to the mass start. All participants must register at the event, even if you have preregistered (because we still need to collect your money and have you sign a waiver). If your team does not have an E-stick, you may rent one for $3. After you register, go to the E-punch tent and register your team’s E-stick. Finally, “clear” and “check” your E-stick (if you are not sure what this means, the E-punch tent crew can explain it to you). This will also be stressed in the pre-race instructions.


Registration, Starts, and Finish will be in the same area as last year (west of Building 1205, SE of the intersection of Merchant Road and Lincoln Blvd).

If you are planning on participating in the Scramble, remember that it is a mass-start event, so be on time! You can start late, but you will have been on the clock since the mass start (i.e., your start time will be the mass-start time regardless of when you actually start).

Here is the schedule for the day:

  8:45 AM – 12:00 noon: Registration/Check In
  9:30 AM: Map distribution and pre-race instructions for Scramble
  9:15 AM – 11:00 AM: Continuous 15-minute instruction clinic for beginners
  9:30 AM – 12:30 PM: Starts available for White & Yellow courses
10:00 AM: Mass start for Scramble
11:30 PM: Course closes, 90-minute Scramble category
12:00 noon: Award ceremony, 90-minute category
  1:00 PM: Course closes, 3-hour Scramble category
  1:30 PM: Award ceremony, 3-hour category
  2:30 PM: Courses close, White & Yellow courses

Please note that everyone must report to the Finish by 2:30, regardless of whether or not they have completed their course.


For the Scramble:

$20 – First team member, if preregistered by 9/24
$30 – First team member, if not preregistered by 9/24
$10 – Each additional team member, if preregistered by 9/24
$15 – Each additional team member, if not preregistered by 9/24
$5 – Each additional youth member (aged 12–20)
Free – Youth under 12, must be accompanied by an adult

For the White and Yellow courses:

$6 – Each adult (no preregistration needed)
$3 – Each youth member (age 8–20) (no preregistration needed)
Free – Youth under 8, must be accompanied by an adult


Please preregister to help us plan for the event, so we can get a good estimate of maps to print, plan for logistics, and organize our volunteeers.

Note, however, that preregistration is not required​—​you will be welcome at the event even if you haven't preregistered. To get the pre-registration discount for the Scramble, you must preregister by Tuesday, September 24. There is no preregistration discount for the White and Yellow courses.

Special Note

The Presidio is an urban park with many cultural features including buildings, a cemetery, and a golf course. In addition, it provides housing for many San Francisco residents. PLEASE respect all out-of-bounds areas as marked on your map, and stay on trails and roads in residential areas. In particular, do not cut through the golf course, no matter how tempting (don't even use a perimeter cart path). Our future use of this park will likely be dependent on your cooperation.

About the Presidio Scramble

What is a Scramble? It's simple: a large number of checkpoints will be scattered over a custom-made, detailed map of the Presidio. With your team of 1 to 5 people, find as many checkpoints as you can in 90 minutes or 3 hours. There is a mass start, so everyone starts and finishes at about the same time. Learn more about the 2013 Wilderness Scramble Series here.

Because the Presidio is smaller than some of our parks, there will be an additional twist for this Scramble to accommodate the 3-hour option​—​it will have two maps.

As usual with a Scramble, the goal is to score as many points as possible without exceeding your time limit! There is a significant penalty of minus 20 points per minute (or fraction of a minute) for returning overtime. Teams completing the 90-minute Scramble that return overtime will have the option of switching to the 3-hour Scramble.

Are Newcomers Welcome?

Absolutely! The Presidio is an urban park, which means that newcomers will be able to find most checkpoints without fear of getting lost. The Scramble, White, and Yellow courses are all suitable for beginners. What are the differences?

So, if the idea of a longer, less structured adventure appeals to you, you might wish to try the 90-minute or 3-hour Scramble. If you want a shorter, more structured adventure, consider the White or Yellow course (or both).

White and Yellow Courses

In addition to the Scramble, White and Yellow courses, suitable for beginners, are offered for those not looking for a longer adventure. The White and Yellow courses will use manual punching and punch cards, so there is no need to rent an E-stick. The course statistics for White and Yellow are as follows:

   Course    Length    Climb   Controls
   White     1.7 km     40 m      11
   Yellow    2.5 km     70 m      13

Note that the course lengths above are based on the straight-line distances between all the controls. However, it is generally not possible to follow those straight lines, so that actual distance you travel will be longer. The route choices you make (as well as any errors you make) will determine how much longer.


The Presidio is always in a state of flux as the park continues its regeneration. Buildings can disappear (or move!), trails can be rerouted, informal trails spring up, and the whole northern portion of the map is the site of the Doyle Drive construction project. While the map is not entirely up to date in every area, none of this should affect your orienteering. The map is current in areas traversed by the courses. Areas of current construction activity are marked out of bounds and should not be approached. Please be especially respectful not to intrude on residential property within the park, and always be aware of other Park users​—​there will be many. Vegetation mapping is less critical at the Presidio, since this is such a well-developed area, but the vegetation mapping is suitably accurate in the traversed areas. Occasional poison oak is present off-trail, but should not be an issue around any of the controls, and can easily be avoided. Several roads will be crossed; please use appropriate caution.


Bring a watch, so you will know how much time is left​—​either for the Scramble time limit or for the White/Yellow closing time.

There is poison oak at the Presidio, so pants or other leg cover is recommended. Running shoes will be appropriate on all the courses. A water bottle or CamelBak might be a good idea.

Each participant will be provided a map. You may use any additional navigational aids that you desire. This includes compass, altimeter, and GPS. Compasses can be rented for $1 each.

For the Scramble courses, the SPORTident electronic punching system will be used to record routes. Each team will need one e-stick. If your team doesn't have its own e-stick, you can rent one for $3. The White and Yellow course participants will not need an e-stick, since old-fashioned manual punch cards will be used for these courses.

Request for Volunteers

Because of the courses offered, the logistics for this event will be somewhat more complex than usual. Thus, we will need several kind souls who would be willing to help part or all of the day. You could probably fit a White or Yellow course into your volunteer schedule, but not a Scramble course, unfortunately. Your volunteering will be very much appreciated!!!

Driving Directions

Read the directions carefully, as no signs will be provided because of park rules.

All the action will start from the west part of Fort Winfield Scott at Building 1205. This is the location we used last year. This is southeast of the intersection of Lincoln Blvd and Ralston Ave.

A map showing the event location is at the right. You can use the + button to zoom in to see the details, and click on the Satellite button to see an aerial view. (A larger map is available here.)

Coming from the South or East: Head to the Golden Gate Bridge. Take the last SF exit on Doyle Drive, just before the toll plaza. Turn right onto Lincoln Blvd. Continue under the overpass. Park in the large lot on your left after the stop sign at Lincoln Blvd and Ralston Ave. If you park there, Building 1205 is east, across Ralston Ave.

Coming from Marin: Exit immediately after the toll plaza onto Merchant Road. Turn right at the stop sign, and park in the large lot immediately on your left (between Lincoln Blvd and Ralston Ave). If you park there, Building 1205 is east, across Ralston Ave.


There is a large lot just west of the registration area (it has disappeared and reappeared repeatedly during the construction project). It is the most convenient location. If the lot is full, you may park along Ralston Ave and between the buildings on Ralston Ave. Parking is also available on the east side of the fields that are next to the registration 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.)

Note: Please do not park near the Log Cabin! Those spaces are reserved for events at the Log Cabin.