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Vasona Lake County Park

Event #3 of 6 in the BAOC 2023 Summer Series

Date: (Sun.) Jun. 18, 2023
Location: Los Gatos, CA
Event Director:
Course Setter: Taylor Pospisil
Type: C; This is the third event of the 2023 Summer Series. Beginners are welcome!

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

For the third event in the 2023 Summer Series, we are pleased to present another event on Bob Cooley’s updated Vasona Park map, now mapped to the ISSOM standard.¹ Check out what has changed at the park over the past few years (including the past year!). We have put together three courses that will be fun for beginners to try and for advanced orienteers to cruise through at Sprint pace.

Note: Everyone will be welcome at this event, even if they have not attended either of the previous events in the Summer Series. In particular, beginners are encouraged to attend this event to learn what orienteering is about.

You can see information about Vasona Lake Park on its website ( Lake Vasona and its neighbor, Oak Meadow Park, have many things to do to keep you there all day. There’s a boat launch where you can rent kayaks, pedal boats, and more. There’s a miniature train that runs around the park, and a carousel.

Club members: Please see the request for volunteers below. 😉

Making the case for advanced orienteers to attend this event:
I want to make the case that the Short and Long courses should be excellent choices for advanced orienteers.
First of all, we will be using a new map made by Bob Cooley. Vasona has undergone considerable change over the past several years, so a new map was needed. It’s always exciting to run on a new map! (Note that the new map is an ISSOM map​—​that is, it uses the set of symbols designed for Sprint Orienteering. Those symbols differ from the set used for forest orienteering, including the way roads, paved paths, fences and walls are represented. If you are not familiar with the Sprint Orienteering symbol set, you can acclimate yourself with this document (PDF/600KB).)
While Vasona does not present much in the way of complex contour detail, there are many, many objects in the park (natural and human-made), so detailed map reading is required. Keep in mind that Sprint courses by design have control placements at the Yellow/Orange level. I have not seen the courses nor the new map, but I am looking forward to the challenge presented by high-speed running on a map with many details.
Hope to see you at the event! Vasona is a lovely park with a big lake and views of the mountains.
Dennis Wildfogel [Written for the 2019 Vasona event; updated here]  

What is Orienteering?

An adventure! Discover the outdoors and discover yourself! Teams of 1 to 5 find checkpoints in wilderness venues or urban areas using specially-produced maps.


The standard BAOC event schedule will be followed:

    9:00 AM – 11:59 AM: Registration open
    9:30 AM – 10:30 AM: Beginner clinic instruction (free)
  10:00 AM – 12:30 PM: Starts are open for all courses
                    2:00 PM: Courses close, checkpoint control pick-up begins
Note: At on-site 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/12KB]).

Note that you can register and start on the courses anytime during the open times above. Thus, for example, you do not need to be “punctual” at 9:00 (you can if you want, but please don’t show up earlier and expect to be served).

Beginner clinics are 15–20 minute, repeating sessions that introduce the sport of orienteering, and provide enough instruction to be able to complete the Beginner (White) course.

Note that you must return to the Finish by 2:00 PM, and then go to the download tent, even if you have not finished your course. Please do not leave without checking in! If there are unaccounted people after 2:00, we must initiate a search for them.

Registration and Costs

Note: There is a special Summer Series Discount Package for BAOC members. The details are described here.
  You do not need to register for this event if you have registered for the Summer Series Discount Package.

The following fees apply at this event (if you have not registered for the Summer Series Discount Package):

  $3 for each junior on the Beginner course
  $8 for each adult on the Beginner course
  $5 for each junior on the Short or Long course  
$15 for each adult member on the Short or Long course
$20 for each adult non-member on the Short or Long course
  $1 for a compass rental (optional)  
  $5 for an electronic fingerstick rental (optional, but each team will need one to complete the course)
$15 for the lowest-cost individual one-year BAOC membership (optional)  

In addition to the above costs, there is a $6 per-car park fee that you will pay at the entrance kiosk.

  • You can register at the event or online before the event (see below).
  • At the event, we can accept payment by cash or check (but no electronic payments).
  • Juniors are age 8 through 20 (under age 8 is free).
  • There is no charge for a second course (but you must end up paying for the more expensive course​—​i.e., Short or Long after beginner).
  • Members of other orienteering clubs can pay the “member” fee. (We hope your club would do the same for our members. 🙂)

More information about event pricing is available in the club FAQ. All the prices are also shown on the standard entry form (PDF/12KB), 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.)

Optional Online Registration

Online registration has closed, but you can still register at the event.

  • Do not register for this event if you have registered for the Summer Series Discount Package (which is available only to club members).
  • Online registration is not required​—​you can register at the event. Individuals might want to register in advance to simplify check-in at the event.
  • Compass rental cannot be arranged during online registration, but you can register online and rent a compass at the event.
  • E-punch fingerstick rental can be arranged during online registration.
  • You can see who is registered here ( (but keep in mind that others will register at the event and through the Summer Series Discount Package).

What to Bring

Comfortable outdoors attire and walking shoes are fine for those who will walk their course.

For runners, any comfortable running shoes (without metal spikes) are appropriate. The courses will include lots of pavement and concrete, and some off-trail legs. Because this is an open park, leg cover or gaiters are not necessary.

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

We time the courses with the SPORTident system, so each entry/team needs to have a SPORTident fingerstick. If you don’t have your own, you can rent one at registration for $5. (Use of the “E-punch” system is easy. You can learn how at the event, or read about it here.)

Venue Facilities

Picnic tables, piped water, and flush toilets are available, so please feel free to bring along a picnic lunch to enjoy after you finish your course(s).

Location Within the Park

Be aware that we might not be allowed to post direction signs in the park. However, there should be a large BAOC club banner visible at the assembly area.

Registration, the Start, and the Finish will be at the Blossom Valley Group Area, which is the second picnic area on the right after you enter Vasona Lake Park and turn right at the first opportunity. (That is the same location we used last year. The first picnic area has a roof, “ours” does not. The approximate coordinates are 37.2360,-121.9710.)

There is plenty of parking right next to the picnic area.


Here are the course details. All the courses have “minimal” climb, less than 50 meters.

    Course     Length   Controls
    Beginner   2.0 km      10  
    Short      3.6 km      11  
    Long       4.8 km      15

Beginners should be aware that the course lengths shown are the cumulative straight-line distances between controls. Because you won’t travel in straight lines, your actual distance will be somewhat more than what is shown above, and will depend on your route choices (and any errors you make).
Keep in mind that you can earn Summer Series points from the first course you run at the event, and only if it’s one of the ranking courses. That is, you will not earn points if you run the Beginner course first and then one of the ranking courses.

Course Setter’s Comments

The map scale is 1:4000. The contour interval is 2 meters.

There is intermittent construction on the southwestern side of the park​—​this area is part of the course, but there might be alterations on race day. Regardless, the ribboned-off areas are considered out-of-bounds.

Crossing the river within the park boundaries is not allowed, except on bridges. The area north of the park has been mapped this year, and may be carefully crossed in the indicated section. Please do not cross close to the concrete bridge; it’s slick, with large drop offs.

Be aware of vehicles on the main road through the park.

Gaiters are not needed for the Beginner and Short courses. You will appreciate them on the Long course, and long pants are recommended.

There is a small amount of poison oak in the park, although you will not need to go through it. Please be familiar with the appearance of this three-leafed plant.

Request for Volunteers

As usual, we need a some people to help set up, do beginner clinics, staff the Start, and pick up controls.

This is a great venue for people just starting out in orienteering, and we want enough volunteers to give them a great experience.

If you can help, please contact Tac Sugiyama, the Event Director ().

Driving Directions

The approximate coordinates of the park entrance are 37.2345,-121.9729. The address of the park is 333 Blossom Hill Rd, Los Gatos.

To get to Vasona Lake, take Highway 17 South from San Jose. Exit at Lark Avenue and turn left (east, over the highway at the light). At the first traffic light, turn right (south) onto Los Gatos Boulevard. Turn right again (west) at a traffic light onto Blossom Hill Road. After crossing over Highway 17 again, the park entrance will be on your right (just before a traffic light).

Note: There might be a lot of traffic on Highway 17 because of people headed to Santa Cruz. If you are approaching Highway 17 on Highway 85, here are alternative routes:
  • Coming from the west, exit at Winchester Blvd (one exit before Highway 17). Turn right onto Winchester Blvd. After 1.5 miles, turn left onto Blossom Hill Road. The park entrance will be on your left at the second traffic light.
  • Coming from the east, exit at Los Gatos Blvd/Bascom Ave (one exit before Highway 17). Turn left onto Los Gatos Blvd. After 1.5 miles, turn right onto Blossom Hill Road. After crossing over Highway 17, the park entrance will be on your right (just before a traffic light).

Note: There is a $6 park fee per car, which you pay at the entrance kiosk. In the unlikely event that the kiosk is not staffed, there is a machine that accepts credit cards.

After paying the entry fee, bear to the right at the first intersection, and continue to Blossom Valley Group Area (see above). It will be the second picnic area on the right (after the one with a roof). (The approximate coordinates are 37.2360,-121.9710.)

Please be careful driving on the park roads. In addition to orienteers, there could be many other park visitors.


¹ ISSOM = International Specification for Sprint Orienteering Maps (which is available here (PDF/284KB)). A newer edition of the Specification (ISSprOM 2019-2) is available here (PDF/1.2MB)). A one-page list of Sprint-map symbols is available here (PDF/600KB).