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Joseph D. Grant County Park

Date: (Sun.) Mar. 12, 2023
Location: San Jose, CA
Event Director: - 650.941.8251
Course Setters: Derek Maclean, Kim van Berkel
Type: B; Standard 7-course event for beginners through advanced; free introductory instruction for beginners

March 11th Update

See the update at the top of the main event webpage for some late comments.
  • Remember to put your clocks forward Saturday night.
  • Bring exact cash change if possible for the $6 park entry fee. There are machines that accept credit cards, but cash will be faster and should help avoid lines at the entrance.

Course Setter’s Notes

By Derek Maclean

Welcome to our springtime event in Joe Grant County Park. The landscape is characteristic of the eastern foothills of the Santa Clara Valley, with grasslands, steep wooded valleys, and majestic oak trees.

Course Information

                                             Technical       Physical  
    Course    Distance    Climb   Controls   Difficulty      Difficulty
    White      2.1 km      20 m      10      Beginner        Easiest  
    Yellow     2.9 km     155 m      15      Adv. Beginner   Easy
    Orange     3.9 km     210 m      16      Intermediate    Moderate  
    Brown      3.8 km     185 m      16      Advanced        Moderate  
    Green      4.7 km     245 m      13      Advanced        Challenging
    Red        5.5 km     290 m      16      Advanced        Very Challenging
    Blue       6.7 km     385 m      20      Advanced        Really Challenging

The course distances are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. The climb represents the amount of ascending that would be done on the “optimum route” (i.e., without regard for any descending). Your actual distance and climb will probably be more than what is listed.

The Start for all the courses is about 800 m from Registration, along park trails, with minimal climb. Allow 10 minutes to get there.

The Finish for all the courses is adjacent to Registration.

Remember to download whether or not you complete your course. And remember that you must return by 2:00 PM.

Course Comments

The White course is entirely on trails, which are muddy based on recent wet weather. The controls are on, or very close to the trail. The course can probably be completed with a rugged stroller.

The Yellow course is mostly on or close to trails, and the controls are just off the trails. There is one extended off-trail section with easy navigation. A shallow stream must be crossed near the end​—​it was only 3 inches deep at last visit.

The Yellow and longer courses have a single water stop about 2/3 through the course. It is on a prominent trail, not a control site, and is convenient for all the courses.

The Yellow and Orange courses should cross fences only at gates. The advanced courses may cross fences at gaps or by rolling under the lowest wire.

The Orange and advanced courses cross a wider, deeper stream just after the Start. This can be crossed with care on a small dam of logs and branches. If significant additional rainfall occurs before the event, it might be necessary to avoid this crossing. Watch for any further information nearer the event.

March 11th Update: The stream remains crossable, but please take care. One at a time, and walk, don’t run. We may make a few modifications to facilitate.

The Orange course is mostly off-trail with some steep climbs. Wear suitable footwear with good grip. The controls are of moderate technical difficulty.

The Brown through Blue courses have advanced technical difficulty, with an emphasis on accurate navigation and route choice. The controls are hung as low as possible on the designated feature, consistent with fairness.

The advanced courses cross a second, larger stream near the end of the course. At the time of writing, this was 1 ft deep, but readily fordable. With additional significant rainfall it might be necessary to detour around this or specify a designated crossing point. Look for further information nearer the event.

March 11th Update: No change from the original comments. The map is accurate in that area, and locations that appear to be suitable for crossing should be OK, with water up to 1 foot deep, less in most sections.

Map and Terrain

The map was substantially updated in 2015, and was partially updated in 2022 by Bill Cusworth based on Lidar data for terrain and vegetation.

Open areas with scattered bushes are shown as yellow with pale green spots. Visibility in these areas is restricted, but passage is not significantly slowed. Denser bushes are shown in dark green. Small dark-green circles might be prominent lone bushes or small trees.

There are many small, unmapped, animal trails, which might appear almost as large as some mapped minor trails, especially those mapped as indistinct or intermittent.

The park has numerous erosion gulleys that are either mapped as easily crossable (line of brown dots) or less easy to cross (solid brown line). The mapping is quite accurate in almost all cases, although soggy, muddy slopes can be challenging in steeper areas.

In areas with lighter tree coverage, the map shows a mixture of small copses (patches of white) and lone trees. A copse might comprise as few as two trees that have a contiguous canopy. Controls on a lone tree will be placed close to the trunk on the indicated side. On advanced courses, controls on a copse might be placed close to the trunk of the tree that is farthest to the side indicated on the description.

Some controls are quite close together. Be sure to check control codes carefully.

Generally, controls will be hung such that competitors should find the feature before seeing the control flag, considering the location specified in the descriptions. Consistent with the required technical difficulty, controls will normally be more visible on White, Yellow, and Orange than on the advanced courses.

Hazards and Animals

From the hazards section of the BAOC website FAQ: “Like any outdoor activity, orienteering does carry risks, however remote. These include sprained ankles, bee stings, snakes, mountain lions, wild pigs, pot farmers, and mosquitoes (e.g., Zinka virus ( However, the most realistic and serious concerns in our area are poison oak and tick-borne Lyme disease.”

Additional information about poison oak, and ticks/Lyme disease can be found in the FAQ here and here.

See the comments above about stream crossings. With the ongoing wet conditions, streams are significantly more full than they have been for several years. Take care when crossing, and follow any directions provided.

Poison oak is present throughout the park. It can grow anywhere, but more often in shady valleys and north-facing slopes. The area of this year’s event does not have as much poison oak as some areas (e.g., last year’s event). In early March, it is not yet in full leaf and less noxious than later in the year. However, even contact with bare twigs can cause a reaction. Take appropriate precautions.

Ticks are known to be present in the park. Full leg cover is recommended.

There are many feral pigs throughout the park. They mostly hide in dense brush during the day, but there are lots of them, and it is not unusual to see them. They can be startling if they burst out of the brush near you.

The park is actively used for cattle grazing, and cows might be encountered on the courses. Up to the time of writing, cows have not been present in any competition areas this year, but they might be introduced at any time. They are normally very docile, but never get between a calf and its mother. It’s important that you leave all gates in the open/closed state that you find them.

Rattlesnakes might be seen sunning on a rock or trail if the weather is sunny and warm. They avoid human contact, and will normally move away when they sense footfalls nearby.

Horses and riders might be encountered, and have precedence over other trail users. Take care not to startle horses, for example when entering or crossing a trail. Slow down, step aside as necessary, and make verbal contact with the rider if appropriate.