Great Falls MD

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November 13

Great Falls Fall Color UPDATE: This event is now SOLD OUT. See below for waitlist information.

Post-Race Pizza Palooza: See below!

Event Locator Maps Are Available Here

We're excited to be returning to this superb park, and we're pleased to announce that pre-registration using our friendly Pop-Up Registration Form is available for use, so sign up now!

Any youth or large groups attending, please contact the Event Director so that we can coordinate pre-registration for your group; the group registration and waiver form is part of the information on our Group Leaders page.

Here's the basic event information:

  • Three courses will be available: Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced;
  • The course lengths will be ~3.6k, 5.2k, and 8.5k for the beginner, intermediate, and advanced courses, respectively, and course notes are posted below;
  • Map scales are 1:7,500 for the beginner course and 1:10,000 for the intermediate and advanced courses;
  • Advance registration is now closed, since the event is sold out. If you have received a confirmation of payment or a confirmation email from our registrar, you are registered. Please make sure to show up at registration before 1:15pm.
  • There will be no "walk up" registration on the day of the event during the normal registration time window. However, unregistered individuals wishing to go out on a course can place their names on a waitlist at the event, and we will release no-show slots between 1:15 - 1:30pm in order to the names on the waitlist (and invoice later by PayPal). Everyone must (still) be out of the woods no later than 3pm.
  • Update: In honor of Veteran's Day, the normal park entrance fee of $5 has been waived, however, annual park passes will still be for sale at the entrance booth. Please allow extra time to get through a possible queue at the entrance booth, especially given the free entry and possibly glorious fall weather.
  • The registration, start, and finish areas are co-located just a bit south of the Great Falls Tavern. Park in the large lot then walk south past the (heated) bathroom building and Tavern to find us. [Locator map is here.] The Tavern's Visitor Center and museum is open until 4:30pm, and there's no admission charge.
  • Starbucks logo
  • Dogs are welcome but must be on a leash 6 feet or less in length at all times, and they are not allowed on the Billy Goat Trail or the Falls Overlook Trail (none of the QOC courses involve going on these trails). This park is a trash-free park, which also means all (dog) waste must be picked up and packed out.
  • Special new treat: Starbucks Via coffee will be served at our post-race refreshment stand (along with hot chocolate).

Great Falls is a beautiful park that QOC has successfully orienteered in for over 30 years, and by holding this event a few weeks earlier than we did last year we're hoping weather conditions should really be great for a fine outdoor adventure!

1/2 Off - Just $8 For A Large Pizza New: Post-Race Potomac Pizza Palooza! After your race, take advantage of a 1/2 price pizza deal at a nearby restaurant, Potomac Pizza. Normally $16 for a large cheese and tomato pizza, just wave your QOC map and you'll get this 8 slice pizza for $8. Additional toppings are also 1/2 price at just $1 each. There's seating for everyone at this friendly local place with a full menu, free soda refills, and it's no problem to go "as you are" post-race. There's plenty of room to go over your map and routes and meet up with your fellow orienteers. The address is 9812 Falls Rd in Potomac; to get there, just take a left at the stop sign as you exit the park, and in less than 2 miles take a left just before River Road into the Potomac Promenade parking area.


C&O NHP (Great Falls MD), Great Falls Tavern, Potomac, MD (Classic Orienteering)

RegistrationAdvance registration is now no longer available by using our Pop-up Registration Form.
Start TimesYou may start your course at any time during the start window listed below for your event.
ScheduleSunday, November 13
10:45 am - 1:15 pmClassic Orienteering: Registration Window
11:00 am - 1:30 pmClassic Orienteering: Start Window
3:00 pmClassic Orienteering: Courses Close - All runners to be out of the woods.
Classic Orienteering: Event Director:Heidi Onkst
Classic Orienteering: Course Setter:Nadim Ahmed
Location Details

Classic Orienteering, Classic Orienteering, Classic Orienteering
C&O NHP (Great Falls MD)
Great Falls Tavern
Potomac, MD
Google Map

From I-495, Maryland: Take exit 41 (Carderock/Great Falls, MD), follow Clara Barton Parkway to the end. At the stop sign, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd. Follow MacArthur ~3.5 miles to the park entrance booth. MacArthur Blvd. ends at the park.

From I-495, Virginia: Cross into Maryland over the American Legion Bridge (beltway inner loop) and take exit 41 (Clara Barton Parkway) Westbound, staying left at the fork. Follow Clara Barton to the end. At the stop sign, turn left onto MacArthur Blvd. Follow MacArthur Blvd ~3.5 miles to the park entrance booth. MacArthur Blvd. ends at the park.

After paying the park entrance fee, park in the large lot to the right (north) of the roundabout, then walk south back past the roundabout and beyond the Tavern to find our registration area.

Printable detailed maps showing the parking/registration area and the route to the Pizza Palooza are available here.

Course DetailsClassic Orienteering
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
Beginner 3.611010
Intermediate 5.220518
Advanced 8.534528
Course NotesClassic Orienteering

As of a week before the event, the leaves are half-off thus making for optimal orienteering conditions and a very beautiful forest. Water features in the forest are none-too-dry nor too-wet; they are just about exactly as mapped. A few map updates were made in the southern parts of the park. However, there may be some areas where the mapping of vegetation features could be out of date. Minor trails are getting hidden by leaf fall that hasn’t had a chance to get packed back down, so they can be quite hard to see. The leaves are hiding rocks and fallen tree limbs so caution is needed for the sake of your ankles - runners especially, please be careful!

Fast runners should like the courses but there will still be a lot of quick navigation decisions to make in technical areas. Significant climb on all courses will slow many but should help to even the odds for the less speedy racers. To get a little variety from earlier years, the Beginner course is a bit longer than a normal White or Yellow course. The Intermediate course difficulty is closest to an Orange course with one or two slightly more difficult controls. To avoid environmentally sensitive areas of the park, the advanced course has some control-picking sections. These are several short consecutive legs suitable for quick running but with sharp changes of direction and route choices that require balancing one’s focus on map details. A few out-of-bounds areas are shown on the map — all participants need to heed these restrictions not only to keep from getting disqualified, but also to help ensure QOC’s ability to continue to hold events in this wonderful park. Please do not cross an out-of-bounds area even if you’re just headed back to assembly area.

Entry FeesIndividual Entries

Non-Member: $10/adult, $6/junior (under 21 years old)

Member: $6/adult, $4/junior (under 21 years old)

Team or Group Entries

Participants are welcome to compete together as a single team entry. Teams containing one or more nonmembers are charged the nonmember individual rate. Teams containing one or more adults are charged the adult individual rate. For teams to receive member or junior rates, all members of the team must be members or juniors, respectively. Each extra team map beyond the first is an additional $4. Individuals or teams desiring to compete on a second course can do so for a reduced fee of $4/map.

Important Notes
  • Most of our events use electronic timing. We will provide you with an electronic timing chip (aka e-stick, finger dibber, or SI-card) for free if you don't own one. Loaned e-sticks that are lost incur a $40 replacement fee.
  • Compasses are available at no charge, but if lost incur a $15 replacement fee.
  • Please provide collateral (driver's license or car keys) when borrowing a compass or e-punch.
  • For additional safety, whistles are available for sale at $1/each.
  • Free beginner instruction is always available - just ask at the registration table.