Permanent Courses

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Permanent Orienteering PostWhile most orienteering occurs at the weekend events hosted by the club around the Mid-Atlantic region during our Sept - June season (see the Event Schedule), there are some permanent orienteering courses that can be visited on your own. Instead of the orange and white fabric controls used at weekend events, on these courses you'll usually be looking for numbered wooden posts.

Before trying a permanent orienteering course, please make sure that (1) your skill level is commensurate with the course difficulty, (2) you understand the park rules, and (3) you take safety precautions such as informing park rangers and/or friends or family of your outing. The permanent orienteering courses (details below) are located at:

  • Bear Branch Park, Camp Hashawa, Westminster MD
  • Hemlock Regional Overlook Park, Clifton VA
  • Little Bennett Regional Park, Clarksburg MD
  • Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, VA

    Bear Branch Park

    Created in 2005 by Eagle Scouts with help from QOC member Dave Linthicum, this park offers one beginner level orienteering course. The map is at a scale of 1:5000, and is available here.

    Directions: Near the center of Westminster, MD. On the Rt. 140 highway, exit north on Maryland Rt. 97 for 3 miles. Turn right on John Owings Rd. After a mile, turn left at the Hashawa-Bear Branch entrance sign. In a few hundred yards, turn right to the Bear Branch Nature Center.

    Hemlock Regional Overlook Park, Clifton VA

    Designed by QOC member Tom Strat, and installed with help from the Outdoor Education Center at George Mason University, this area offers a beginner's course and an advanced level (off-trail) score-O course.

    For a map and other information about this permanent course, please email Tom Strat.

    Little Bennett Regional Park, Clarksburg MD

    Although designed quite some ago, maps for the 3 courses in this park were newly created by QOC members Greg & Kathleen Lennon in 2010. The 3 courses are at beginner, advanced beginner, and intermediate levels of difficulty, although the "intermediate" course is shorter and easier than an average weekend Orange level course. Also, while the intermediate level map is a full orienteering map in the sense of having all features represented, the others are simplified; the advanced beginner map lacks vegetative features, and the beginner maps additionally lacks intermediate contour levels. Map scale is 1:10,000. The start & finish location is near the Hawks Reach Nature Center, where you might be able to obtain the maps (if the brochure rack has them). Otherwise, get them here: Beginner, Advanced_Beginner, Intermediate.

    Note: the Little Bennett Campground also has a "Trainer" Course that they say is orienteering related, even though it only involves walking from point to point using bearings and a compass, and no map is involved.

    Directions: Head into the park from the main entrance at (approximately) 23701 Frederick Road, Clarksburg MD. This is often reached by exiting I-270 at Clarksburg Road (exit 18), then heading east a short distance before turning left (north) onto Frederick Road (Rt 355), and continuing on it the relatively short distance to the main park entrance.

    Prince William Forest Park, Triangle, VA

    An extensive set of permanent controls, with over 40 controls and 20+ ways to create courses connecting them, exists in Prince William Forest Park. General information about these courses is here, but maps may only be obtained currently by visiting the PWF Visitors Center during business hours. Note: QOC is currently working with NPS staff to check the condition of all controls in this park and to create new, higher-quality maps for visitor use. The condition of the controls and the maps in use at the moment may be problematic until the update is completed.

    Directions: From I-95 exit 150B near Triangle VA, go west and then turn right to enter the main entrance to Prince Williams Forest. Follow the signs the Visitor Center.