Swanson Road

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September 27

Mushrooms QOC will close out a busy September with classic orienteering courses in the Swanson Road section of Patuxent River Park, courtesy of course setter Craig Shelden and meet director David Levine.

White, Yellow, and Orange courses will start south of the parking area, but fairly close. Brown, Green, and Red courses will have a more distant start about 600 m north of the parking area. All courses use the same finish.

As at all QOC events, free instruction will be offered for newcomers. A QOC member will show you how to read a map, teach you how to use a compass with your map and give you hints on how to navigate your choice of course. Besides that, just wear a smile and the clothes you would for a hike or run in a local park. Bring a compass, if you have one, or borrow one at the event. And dogs (on leash) are welcome too. Driving directions are below. Parking will be on the grass alongside the road within the park; please follow directions from volunteers or, in their absence, do your best to park efficiently as space is not unlimited.

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.

Panera Bread Post-Race MeetUp! A relatively nearby Panera Bread cafe will be the place for QOC orienteers and friends to hang out and discuss your routes after the event. Ask for details (like location) at registration.


Swanson Road Natural Area, North end, Upper Marlboro, MD (Classic)

RegistrationNo advance registration required. Just show up and have fun!
Start TimesYou may start your course at any time during the start window listed below for your event.
ScheduleSaturday, September 27
11:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Dave Levine
Course Designer:Craig Shelden
Location Details

Swanson Road Natural Area
North end
Upper Marlboro, MD
Google Map

From the Washington Beltway, take exit 11 to MD-4 South/Pennsylvania Avenue. After 8 miles, exit onto US-301 North. Drive 3 miles then turn right onto Swanson Road. Stay on Swanson Road for about half a mile, then instead of turning right for Swanson Road, continue straight onto Swanson Road Spur. Follow Swanson Road Spur for another half mile then look for parking along the park entrance road.

If your route brings you south on US-301, turn left onto Swanson Road - it's the next junction south of Leeland Road, with the right turn being onto Beech Tree Parkway and the left turn, crossing the highway onto Swanson Road, then follow directions above.

If you need a street address, use 17110 Swanson Rd Spur, Upper Marlboro, MD 20772.
Google Maps Link
Apple/iPhone Link

Course DetailsClassic
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 2.92410
Yellow 3.29213
Orange 4.113813
Brown 4.523813
Green 6.233416
Red 7.133019
Course NotesClassic

Map and Terrain Notes

Swanson Road Natural Area is a small park located in the Upper Marlboro area of Prince Georges County along the Patuxent River.

Parking is limited, so look for parking spots along the side of the gravel road entering the park and look for volunteers directing you to open spots. The Yellow course has a leg that crosses the entry road, so please be alert for runners crossing it.

The park is also home to the Prince Georges County Radio Controlled (PGRC) Aircraft club https://www.pgrcclub.com/index.htm and their flying field occupies the park's largest expanse of solid, clear, level ground. Keeping the field below the flying area clear is a serious issue for RC Flyers. If anyone enters the main cleared open area, the aircraft are required to be urgently grounded by regulation. Orienteers should skirt the edges of the field. Course legs that follow the Northeast part of the flying field perimeter should be straightforward. The main area of the flying field is marked Out of Bounds.

White, Yellow, and Green Courses have legs that cross the Northeast side of the RC air field. Please stay near the Northeast edge of the field.

Stay out of barns, houses, and other structures. Aside from the liability issues, some of those buildings are being used by farmers leasing the nearby fields.

Map areas marked Yellow and Orange (usually indicating open fields) may not be clear and easily runnable. Fields that are sometimes cut for hay might be cut by game day, but might not.

The park has three named trails (Red, Blue, and Green). Their markers are 4 inch-wide white plastic, marked at the top with a colored diamond sticker and an arrow to show trail direction. The park also has many white 4-inch plastic pipes placed vertically throughout the fields and woods. The pipes are not mapped and are easy to confuse with the trail markers: Verify, then trust.

Power line fields south of the entry road are likely to have chest-high growth, unless they've been cut by game day. As of 21 September they had not been cut.

In some parts of the park, growth has encroached on white open forest areas that have not been updated on the map.

As usual in the mid-Atlantic region, features marked as dry may be wet (e.g., ditches and small marshes) depending on recent weather.

Entry FeesIndividual Entries

Note: juniors = under 21

Club Member, adult Club Member, junior Non-Member, adult Non-Member, junior
Epunch Owner $5 $5 $10 $5
Epunch Borrower $10 $5 $15 $10

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 $2. Individuals or teams desiring to compete on a second course can do so for a reduced fee of $2/map.

Important Notes
  • At the event, we can only accept payment in cash or check; online, you may use a credit card or PayPal account.
  • You may become a member at the event or by joining online via this webpage (which also explains the member benefits). Membership is completely optional.
  • Most of our events use an 'epunch' timing chip for electronic timing. Individuals or groups without their own epunch pay a higher entry fee (see above), which includes the loan of an epunch for that event. Loaned epunches that are lost incur a $40 replacement fee. Epunches (also known as SI-cards or finger sticks) are usually available for sale at each event as described here.
  • 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 epunch.
  • For additional safety, whistles are available for sale at $1/each.
  • Free beginner instruction is always available - just ask at the registration table.