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Big Basin Redwoods State Park

Date: (Sun.) Sep. 17, 2017
Location: Boulder Creek, CA
Event Director: - 831.439.9822
Course Setter: Nick Corsano
Type: B; Full-featured event for beginners through advanced in a beautiful forest

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

Note the updated road-closure information below.

Are you ready to orienteer under the redwood trees of Big Basin? BAOC will be holding this year's Big Basin event on a new map of a portion of the park. Courses will range from beginner to advanced, with beginner clinics available to introduce newcomers to orienteering.

We owe a big thanks to Nick Corsano for spearheading the Big Basin effort. Again this year, Sharon Evans will be the event director, and Nick will be the course designer.

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.

For BAOC veterans, the added inducement this year is that the advanced courses are being set on a part of the map that was re-done by Vladimir Zherdev using LIDAR contours. You will enjoy far more precise mapping​—​vegetation as well as contours​—​than our old map featured.

For first-timers, orienteering in the majestic redwood forest is a truly awe-inspiring experience.

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 (closes at noon)
  9:30 AM – Beginners' clinic instruction begins (free)
10:00 AM – Starts open (close at 12:30)
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. If you are new to orienteering, we recommend that you attend a session​—​even if you've attended one at a previous event (because different presenters cover things differently).

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+); paid at entrance to Big Basin Park  

Note: We are able to accept payment only by cash or check​—​no credit cards or electronic payments.

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

The park's day-use fee is collected at the parking lot entrance or at the park headquarters building (see the Driving Directions below for an explanation).

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 our last two events held here (click here to see the 2015 event). 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 offer the full set of seven courses. The advanced courses will indeed use a piece of the new map. They will traverse a section of the park little used in the past, and Green, Red, and Blue will venture into an area that was never mapped before! For the most part, these courses look to be shorter and less strenuous than the 2015 courses, but there will still be some very steep places, so wear cleats or hiking shoes with good traction.

Make sure you go the correct Start location:

Water will be provided on all the courses, except the quite-level White course.

Here are the course statistics:

                                         Water  Navigational  Physical  
    Course    Length    Climb  Controls  Stops  Difficulty    Difficulty
    White     2.3 km     30 m     12       0    Very easy     Easy   
    Yellow    2.7 km    160 m     12       1    Easy          A little harder
    Orange    4.4 km    255 m     19       1    Moderate      Moderate
    Brown     3.4 km    215 m     14       2    Difficult     Moderate
    Green     4.1 km    405 m     19       2    Difficult     Difficult
    Red       4.3 km    495 m     19       2    Difficult     Very difficult
    Blue      5.0 km    540 m     21       2    Difficult     Very difficult

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 Setter's Notes for more information.

Note: There was an addition to the Course Setter's Notes late on Thursday, September 14th.


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).

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:

•  Setup
•  Registration
•  Beginner Clinics
•  Starts – WYO
•  (Possibly) Starts – Advanced (if we have enough volunteers)
•  Finishes – WYO
•  Finishes – Advanced
•  Control Pickup

Note that no previous experience is needed for most of the tasks. We can easily show newcomers what to do.

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

Please email me () 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.

Thank you to those folks who have already signed up to help out!!!! And a huge thank you to Tony Pinkham for vetting the advanced courses!

Driving Directions

The approximate event coordinates are N37.1758,W122.2215.

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.

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

Note about Alternate Routes:

Various roads were closed in the Santa Cruz mountains this past winter due to washouts, etc. It's possible that some of the alternate route roads will be restricted, or even closed, for repairs at the time of the event. You can look here ( for current status information.
Please be aware that the section of Bear Creek Road that joins Highway 35 (Skyline Blvd) is closed for repairs. This is usually one of the quicker ways to get to Big Basin from the South Bay (i.e., Highway 17 south to Bear Creek Rd). You can still take Highway 35 from the north to Bear Creek Road. Here is a link to a map ( that shows the closure. [Editor's note: Later information is that the closure has been removed.]
When you're looking for an alternate route, it's best to set your GPS for 21600 Big Basin Way, Boulder Creek, CA (,+Boulder+Creek,+CA&entry=gmail&source=g), which is the ranger station (or use the coordinates above). Just looking for Big Basin Park may give you another location.

After you arrive in the park, enter the main parking lot and pay the $10 day-use fee ($9 for seniors 62+). (If the kiosk is not staffed, you'll need to go to the ranger building across the road.) Drive straight ahead through the parking lot. Our assembly point is the Gazos Creek 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.