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Lake Herman Recreation Area

Date: (Sun.) May. 6, 2018
Location: Benicia, CA
Event Director: - 415.895.6039
Course Setter: Nikolay Chukanov
Type: B; Standard seven-course event for beginners through advanced

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

As of this last weekend, there were copious amounts of poppies, lupine (particularly purple lupine), and other wildflowers about, thanks to our late spring rains. Maybe they will still put on a show for you on May 6.

Benicia was once the state capital of California, and the capitol building is a historical landmark and museum (, and well worth a visit after completing a course or two. Lake Herman has plenty of hills, but is not steep by Bay Area standards. The area is mostly open and highly runnable. There are hundreds of bushes/thickets and they are all mapped!

We will be meeting in Benicia Community Park, at the picnic tables close to the volleyball court. There is plenty of parking.

Nikolay Chukanov is your course setter. He has put a lot of thought and legwork into designing fun, interesting courses for BAOCers at all levels. The White course is a beginner course, suitable for families with young children, or children going on their own with parents shadowing them. The Yellow course is at advanced-beginner level, and is suitable for adventurous beginners. Orange is an intermediate-level course, and you can expect plenty of off-trail orienteering. Brown through Blue are technically advanced courses.

In addition to the orienteering, BAOC's Annual General Meeting will be held at this event. We will be electing officers and discussing other club business. Plan to be there for the meeting, which starts at 1:00 PM (i.e., try to complete your course before then).

Please note that we really need more volunteers as described below.

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, hikers, joggers, and walkers.

Venue Facilities

The assembly area is in the adjacent Benicia Community Park, which offers ample free parking, restrooms, picnic tables, and barbecues. Feel free to bring a picnic lunch to enjoy after you finish your course.

Please note that dogs are not allowed in Benicia Community Park, other than in the enclosed dog area. Updated information: "With the exception of the Benicia City Park at First and Military, dogs are now welcome in all city parks when securely restrained by a leash no longer than 6 feet. This change became effective on January 5, 2018." (Ref. City of Benicia press release [PDF/106KB (])

There seems to be a conflict. There are currently signs posted at Lake Herman stating that dogs are restricted to the dog park (which is a small section of the community park), and going to and from the dog park. Perhaps the signage has not caught up yet with this new city policy?
I don’t recommend that we test it.  
Gary Kraght  
Lake Herman Event Director
(May 5, 2018)


The standard BAOC schedule will be followed:

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

At registration, all juniors must be accompanied by parents or legal guardians, or bring with them a waiver signed by their parent or legal guardian (the registration form is available here (PDF/100KB)).

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).

Beginner 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 download their E-stick even if you don't complete your course, 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!


The following fees apply at this event.

  $3 for juniors (age 8 through 20) on beginner (White) and advanced beginner (Yellow) courses
  $8 for adults on beginner and advanced beginner courses
  $5 for juniors on intermediate (Orange) and advanced (Brown, Green, Red, Blue) 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 one-year BAOC membership (optional)  

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

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

More information about event pricing is available in the club FAQ. All the prices are also shown on the standard entry form (PDF/100KB), which you can print and fill out in advance to save some time at the event. (You will need one entry form for each group of people going on a course together.) Please note that the form has a second page for signatures of group members.

What to Bring

For beginner 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.

Terrain and Courses

The park consists of about 2.3 sq km of grassy hills sloping down to Lake Herman, a small reservoir that is the source of drinking water for the city of Benicia. The base map, produced by Bob Cooley, was a high-resolution aerial photograph overlaid on 2.5-meter LIDAR contours. There are some wooded areas on the outskirts of the park and in streambeds, but over most of the area, mapped vegetation consists of bushes and small trees​—​hundreds of them, meticulously mapped.


Here are the final course stats:

     Course     Length     Climb   Controls
     White      1.8 km      55 m       8  
     Yellow     2.4 km      90 m      11
     Orange     3.1 km     115 m      18
     Brown      3.1 km     130 m      15
     Green      4.4 km     145 m      16
     Red        5.3 km     220 m      20
     Blue       5.9 km     235 m      24

Course Comments

The maps will have scales of 1:6000 or 1:6500 (look at your map!), with a 10-foot contour interval.

Beginners should be aware that the lengths shown are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. Your actual distance will be somewhat longer. To estimate how far you will actually go, change "km" to "mi" (e.g., for a "2 km" course, you might travel up to "2 mi"). The climb numbers represent the amount of ascending that would be done on the "optimum route" (in the Course Setters' 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 whole park for a fun, challenging navigation experience. The advanced courses all involve difficult navigation, and differ by physical difficulty with Brown "easiest" and Blue "hardest".

Here are some warnings to keep in mind:

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We need volunteers!!!

Specifically, the orienteering gods will love you if you volunteer to help with E-punch, starts, or Beginner Clinics.

So far, Jeff Lanam is the only person volunteering on E-punch, and he does not want to be lonely.

Managing starts is a nice activity that anyone can do, regardless of orienteering experience, so I encourage new members who are looking for a way to help the club to step up. We will have shifts working on the Start Line, so you will get to run a course.

And imagine the newcomers that you can inspire as their Beginner Clinic guru. Marriages have even resulted from our Beginner Clinics!

OK, enough of the volunteer spiel. And seriously, all BAOC events can only be put on with volunteers like you. Please contact Event Director .


The official address of Benicia Community Park is 540 Rose Dr, Benicia, and that will get you close enough to find us. Alternatively, the approximate coordinates are 38.0862,-122.1586.

There's a map here that shows the location of the event. To use that map, drag it to center Benicia (near Concord) in the panel, then use the "+" button to zoom in. Repeat dragging and zooming to get the desired area shown. You can click on the Satellite button to see an aerial view.

From the South Bay, most of the East Bay, and the southern half of the Peninsula:

Take I-680 North across the Benicia-Martinez Bridge. Stay in the left lanes on the bridge to merge onto I-780 West. Take Exit #5 from I-780, E 2nd St. Go straight-ish (uphill) on E 2nd St, continue 1.3 miles. At the traffic light, turn left onto Rose Dr. Continue 1.1 miles, and then turn into Benicia Community Park (Dempsey Dr) on your right.

From Sacramento:

Take I-80 West to I-680 South. Take exit #61 for Mount Herman Road, and turn right. At the first intersection, turn left onto E 2nd St. After 2.1 miles, turn right at the traffic light onto Rose Dr. Continue 1.1 miles, and then turn into Benicia Community Park (Dempsey Dr) on your right.

From San Francisco, Oakland and surrounding communities, and from the North Bay:

Go to I-80, and take it to Vallejo. Exit onto I-780 East. Take exit #5 for E 2nd St, turn right and continue 1.4 miles. At the traffic light, turn left onto Rose Dr. Continue 1.1 miles, and then turn into Benicia Community Park (Dempsey Dr) on your right.