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Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Date: (Sun.) Aug. 30, 2015
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Event Director: - 831.439.9822
Course Setter: Nick Corsano
Type: B; We return to this beautiful park for point-to-point courses for beginners through advanced

Please note that fees and time limits apply. Events are typically not canceled due to bad weather.

BAOC invites you to experience the thrill of orienteering amid the glorious forests of Big Basin Redwoods State Park (, California's first state park and home to some of the most magnificent groves of Sequoia sempervirens found anywhere. We returned to this park last year for the first time in nine years, and had a great event.

What is Orienteering?

An adventure: Discover the outdoors and discover yourself! Teams of 1 to 5 find checkpoints in parks and wilderness areas using specially-produced maps. All are welcome at our events​—​runners, joggers, hikers, and walkers.


  9:00 AM – Registration opens
  9:30 AM – Beginners' clinic instruction begins (free)
10:00 AM – Starts open
10:30 AM – Beginners' clinic instruction ends
11:59 AM – Registration closes
12:30 PM – Starts close
  2:00 PM – Courses close, checkpoint control pick-up begins

Note that you can register and start on courses anytime between the open and close times above. Thus, for example, you do not need to be "punctual" at 9:00 (but you can if you want).

Beginners' clinics are short, repeating sessions that introduce the sport of orienteering, and provide enough instruction to be able to complete the beginner (White) course.

Everyone must check in at the Finish by 2:00 PM, and report to the E-punch tent, so we can have everyone accounted for and start checkpoint pick-up on time so those volunteers can get home.

After you finish, enjoy free snacks and refreshments, and socialize with other participants!


  $3 for juniors on beginner's and advanced beginner's courses
  $8 for adults on beginner's and advanced beginner's courses
  $5 for juniors on intermediate and advanced courses  
$12 member price for intermediate and advanced courses
$18 non-member price for intermediate and advanced courses
  $1 for a compass rental (optional)  
  $5 for an electronic fingerstick rental (if you don't own one, you'll need one to complete the course)
$15 for the lowest cost individual year BAOC membership (optional)  
$10 per vehicle day-use fee ($9 for seniors 62+)  

For extra people on a team, add $7 per adult for intermediate and advanced courses or $5 per adult on beginners' courses (with lower prices for juniors).

The day-use fee is collected at the parking lot entrance or at the park headquarters building.

More information about event pricing is available in the club FAQ.

What to Bring

For beginners' courses, comfortable outdoors attire and shoes are fine.

For intermediate and advanced courses, leg cover or gaiters are recommended, as well as shoes with some extra grip on the soles.

A compass is not required, but can be very helpful. We have compasses available for a $1 rental fee.

We time the courses with the SPORTident system, so a SPORTident fingerstick is needed for each team. If you don't have your own, they rent for $5. (Use of the "E-punch" system is easy. You can learn how at the event, or read about it here.)

Location within the Park

The assembly area is at the Gazos Creek Picnic Area, which is the same as last year. Details are under Driving Directions below.

Venue Facilities

Picnic tables, barbecues, restrooms with flush toilets, and running water are available, so please feel free to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy after you finish your course.


We will be offering the standard set of seven courses. Here are the course statistics:

   Course     Length     Climb   Controls   Technical Difficulty
   White      2.2 km      30 m      10      Easy   
   Yellow     2.8 km     180 m      14      A little harder
   Orange     3.6 km     270 m      16      Moderate
   Brown      3.4 km     250 m      12      Difficult
   Green      4.3 km     390 m      19      Difficult
   Red        5.3 km     520 m      18      Difficult
   Blue       7.3 km     630 m      22      Difficult

The White and Yellow courses have a different Start and Finish from the Orange through Blue courses​—​make sure you go to the correct Start. The White and Yellow Start is just across the bridge from the assembly area. The other Start is within a five-minute walk from the assembly area. Both Finishes are within five-minute walks back to the assembly area.

Beginners should be aware that the lengths shown are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. Your actual distance will be somewhat longer. The climb numbers represent the amount of ascending that would be done on the "optimum route" (in the Course Setter's opinion), without regard for any descending.

The White course is for beginners and young children. This is a great warmup if you're trying orienteering for the first time. You get to see the map before the start and experience how everything works.

The Yellow course is for "advanced beginners". It provides a bit more navigation challenge. Beginners can do this course after the White course (if they complete the first course before noon).

The Orange (intermediate) course, and the Brown, Green, Red, and Blue (advanced) courses explore the forests, meadows, hilltops, and valleys for a fun, challenging navigation experience. The advanced courses all involve difficult navigation, and differ by physical difficulty with Brown "easiest" and Blue "hardest".

Be sure to read the Course Setters' Notes for more information.


The intermediate and advanced courses will traverse some steep areas.

For participants on the intermediate and advanced courses, the park has some poison oak which you will want to avoid. It looks like this. Washing clothes and shoes and bathing exposed areas with dish-washing soap or a commercial product such as Tecnu is recommended (i.e., to remove the irritant oil).

This is not really a hazard, but you should be aware that Sempervirens Fund ( volunteers will be hiking the trails with 40 pounds of camera equipment on their backs to add Big Basin trails to Google Maps. Try not to knock them over. You can read about it here (

Request for Volunteers

If you're planning on coming to the event, your help would be greatly appreciated! I love that folks offer to help when they show up at the event, but it helps the flow of the event to have people scheduled in advance for key tasks (e.g., we will have some scouts attending, and they will need beginner's clinics). We particularly need help with these tasks:

Beginner's Clinics
Control Pick-up
August 24th Update:
We need lots of help with control pick-up, mainly on the advanced courses (where we need at least 4 more people). Nick Corsano has outlined a good process for the advanced control pick-up, including a ride out to the starting points!
Beginner's Clinics are also needed, and will be appreciated by all.
Please let know if you can help at this outstanding event.

The sooner you sign up, the better your chances of getting your preferred task.

Please email with what you'd like to volunteer for. You may also call my cell phone at 831.236.3055 to volunteer, or if you have any questions.

Editor's Note: For past events, Sharon has recruited her relatives and personal friends (i.e., non-orienteers) to help. Let's "flood" her with club volunteers, so those people will be better able to enjoy the day.

Driving Directions

Take I-880 or I-280 to Highway 17, and go south over the Santa Cruz Mountains. Exit at Mt. Hermon Road in Scotts Valley, and go right (NW) 3 miles to Highway 9. Turn right, proceed about 6 miles to the town of Boulder Creek. Turn left on Highway 236, and go 9 miles to the park headquarters. Then proceed to Gazos Creek Picnic Area.

There is no shortage of alternative routes. Some favorites are listed here.

Here's an advisory for folks whose preferred route to Big Basin goes through Saratoga: In the spring of 2014, Caltrans began a two-year project to upgrade sections of Highway 9 between the town of Saratoga and Highway 35. As of August 2015, one-way traffic control is in effect on one short stretch of this road. Figure on this adding up to 5 minutes to your drive time.

After you arrive in the park, enter the main parking lot and pay the $10 day-use fee ($9 for seniors 62+). Drive straight ahead through the parking lot. Our assembly point is the picnic area on the right-hand side of the road, opposite the bridge over the creek. If the small parking lot there is full, continue straight ahead and park along the side of the road. (Please be considerate of others, and park closely.)

The picnic area has tables, barbecues, and restrooms with flush toilets and running water. Groups who may want to spread out a little more can drive across the bridge, and claim one of the picnic areas on the other side.

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