Photo gallery image (click to enlarge)

Calero County Park

Date: (Sun.) Feb. 27, 2022
Location: San Jose, CA
Event Director: - 650.941.8251
Course Setter: John Richardson
Type: B; Standard 7-course event for beginners through advanced

Course Setter’s Notes

By John Richardson

The Calero event usually finds itself in the fall season of our annual calendar, as it was three years ago for the last BAOC event in this park. But the park is at its most spectacular at this time of year​—​even more so than in the fall, with the grass a lush green and the spring flowers just starting to come out. Calero is also infamous for wet weather, with the 2003 event being one of our only events ever canceled due to heavy rain. Fingers crossed that come February 27th the grass will remain green but stay dry!

The assembly area is the trailhead parking lot at the usual McKean entrance (approx. coordinates: 37.1749,-121.7611). There is a 1 km walk (80 m climb) to the Start, which is shared for all the courses. It should take around 20 minutes at a walking pace, according to Naismith’s rule ( The Finish is located near the parking lot.

Due to park restrictions, no water will be provided at the registration area or on the courses. Please bring any refreshments that you will need.


The trail system at Calero is fairly sparse, so the White and Yellow courses are a bit longer than usual. However, the trails are mostly wide and well maintained. As usual, there is a fair (but not excessive) amount of climb on the intermediate and advanced courses. I think it’s worth it though, since the courses are able to offer a variety of navigational challenges, and there are some great views (if you have time to appreciate them).

The course details are as follows:

    Course   Distance      Climb     Controls  Map Scale   Navigation
    White     2.9 km     65 m  2.2%     10      1:7,500    Beginner  
    Yellow    2.8 km     85 m  3.0%     10      1:7,500    Adv. Beginner
    Orange    3.4 km    190 m  5.6%     10      1:7,500    Intermediate
    Brown     2.9 km    155 m  5.3%      9      1:7,500    Advanced
    Green     4.3 km    220 m  5.1%     11     1:10,000    Advanced
    Red       6.4 km    300 m  4.7%     16     1:10,000    Advanced
    Blue      7.3 km    420 m  5.8%     16     1:10,000    Advanced

There is a 1 km walk (80 m climb) to the Start, which is shared for all the courses. It should take around 20 minutes at a walking pace to get there. The Finish is located near the parking lot.
Beginners should be aware that the course lengths shown are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. 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. Because you won’t travel in straight lines, and might not follow the optimum routes, your actual distance and climb will be somewhat more than what is shown above, and will depend on your route choices (and any errors you make).

Note that there are many streamers around the park that have nothing to do with the courses, even though they might be near the control sites. It’s best to ignore them.

Note: Horses always have the right of way. If you encounter a horse, you must stop running and respond to the rider’s direction.


The map is generally in pretty good shape. Dense vegetation is largely accurate and easily avoidable, although the poison oak is growing quickly at this time of year and pervades large areas of the park. The areas around larger streams might be quite boggy, depending on the weather​—​it is usually a good idea to take a parallel trail if there is one.

As usual with our maps, there is some inconsistency about the mapping of trees. Live, prominent trees are mainly depicted as green O’s, but can also be mapped as an isolated patch of white or merged into a nearby copse. In general, dead but (partially) standing trees are marked with green ×’s, and large fallen trees with green T’s. Both use the “prominent tree + ruined (bent arrow)” control description. Brown ×’s are distinct rootstocks, but none are used as control locations. Tree markers (especially dead/fallen ones) are quick to become obsolete, and thus are not always a reliable source of navigational information.

One other quirk of the map is that some of the point-feature marks (e.g., O’s and ×’s) appear a bit smaller than usual in print. You might also find boulders appear a lot smaller in real life in areas with tall grass (i.e., less than 0.5 m might be visible). In the control descriptions, I have added heights (in meters, accurate to 0.5 m) for the larger boulders and cliffs, but by default (i.e., if no number is specified) expect the features to be around 1 m high.

The contour interval is (the unusual) 25 ft, which is about 7.5 m. The maps will be printed at 1:7,500 scale for the White, Yellow, Orange, and Brown courses; the Green, Red, and Blue courses will be printed at 1:10,000 scale.


There are some steep slopes and reentrants, so cleated shoes or hiking boots are recommended.

There is plenty of poison oak. It is still low to the ground and avoidable on most legs, but long pants and/or gaiters are recommended for the advanced courses.

As mentioned above, weather dependent, there might be some soggy areas, but they should be easily avoided for the most part.

It's not a hazard, but you must be aware that there is a large out-of-bounds area (marked on the map, but not on the ground) that must not be entered to avoid disturbing the native wildlife. The courses passing nearby are designed so there should not be any temptation to enter that area.

Be careful of hidden barbed wire in areas near where ruined fences are mapped.

There are often horses at Calero. They have the right of way and care should be taken when passing to avoid startling them. Make sure the horses can see you (especially if approaching from behind), and pass slowly.

Trails are also very popular with mountain bikers.

The park is home to plenty of wildlife, most of which should not pose any danger, but keep your eyes out for mountain lions, rattlesnakes, coyotes, and bobcats (I think I saw one in the distance, but it might have been a fox).

Final Words

I would like to warmly thank Dan Greene, Daniel Engovatov, and Gavin Wyatt-Mair for their detailed feedback on the courses and help with vetting control locations. The event would not have happened without our Event Director, Steph Maclean (who has also gone to great lengths to find a solution for printing the maps), and Graham Brew, who secured the park permit in record time.

I hope you have a great time running the courses!