Great Falls

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November 6

Great Falls Fall Color UPDATE as of 2 Nov. 2016: The stats on the three approved courses are now posted (below). In addition, participants on intermediate and advanced courses are to travel in a relatively straight line from control to control (unless there is a viable on-trail option for part of any leg). Intermediate and advanced pre-registrants will receive an email asking them to either confirm attendance, or, cancel and receive a refund.

Welcome back to C&O NHP! Once again, due to park regulations we require advance registration (with payment), and we are expecting a sold out event. If you have registered but will not be able to attend, please notify us in advance so others can attend. On Sunday, only pre-registered orienteers will be able to start on their course, anytime between 11 - 1:30, and must be back no later than 3pm. There will be no day-of registration at the event, and the event is now sold out so register now via this link.

Course Information: Course stats are now posted below. Note that there are officially 3 approved courses (beginner, intermediate, and advanced). These courses are carefully designed to avoid areas that the National Park Service has designated as sensitive.

Reminder: On our event day, Sunday, November 6 at 2 a.m., Daylight Saving Time ends, and all clocks should be moved back one hour. Don't show up one hour too early!

Great Falls Locator Map

Save $8 - Just $9 For A Large Pizza Back by Popular Demand: Post-Race Potomac Pizza Palooza! After your race, take advantage of a 1/2 price pizza deal at a nearby restaurant, Potomac Pizza. Normally $17 for a large cheese and tomato pizza, just wave your QOC map and you'll get this 8 slice pizza for just $9, and additional toppings are only $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. Directions are also shown in the Event Locator Map; the Tavern area is shown in the image to the left.

Bike Loaner Program logoBike Loan Program: Borrow a bike at no cost to ride along the Canal, if you've got energy after your run (or if you have brought non-orienteering friends or family along)! Info available at the Bike Loaner Program website or Facebook page.

Have any questions? Just use our Contact Us form and ask away!


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

RegistrationRegistration is now closed, as the event is sold out. There will be no day-of registration.
Start TimesYou may start your course at any time during the start window listed below for your event.
ScheduleSunday, November 6
11:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Greg Lennon
Event Director:Kathleen Lennon
Course Designer:Nadim Ahmed
Location Details

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
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
Beginner 2.3158
Intermediate 416012
Advanced 6.427511
Course NotesClassic

Great Falls is a great park to run through with technical difficulty and lots of open and mature forest. In an unexpected change for 2016, park authorities have greatly altered our proposed courses. As a result, the courses are not up to course setting standards that advanced course runners are used to. Due to this year's restrictions and course revisions, participants are requested to note and/or do the following:

  • There is a 700m walk to the start for all courses (including a climb of about 50m). It might take one 10 to 20 minutes so plan your start time accordingly.
  • Beginner participants should stay on trails at all times.
  • Intermediate and Advanced participants should try to run each leg as straight as possible to their ability, and within reason (if there's a viable trail option, you are allowed to use it). Travelling off-trail in a straight line will (1) add climb, (2) not allow one to get to normal attack points, and (3) put participants through some thicker vegetation that might normally be avoidable. However, most of the areas mapped green in the park are very passable at this time of year. One can think of these approved Advanced and Intermediate courses as line-O courses with the control locations shown on the map. In areas where a leg parallels a nearby trail, as long as the leg intersects trails, participants can use the trail as long as they take it from where the leg line crosses it, and return to the designated leg line at another point on the same leg were another connecting trail intersects it.
  • Participants should stay out of wet areas wherever possible. On the Advanced course, runners should aim to use a bridge to get over the stream on leg 4. This will require deviating from the leg line on the map.
  • One control is repeated (i.e. visited twice) on the Advanced Course.

The leaves are starting to come off and they may cover trails, making them more difficult for one to see. There may be other non-orienteers on the park trails, so please be respectful and share the trails. Some controls are very near each other, so participants should check codes when punching.

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
  • You may use a credit card or PayPal account to pay when you pre-register online.
  • If you have access to a smartphone, you may become a member at the event by joining online via this webpage (which also explains the member benefits). Membership is completely optional. If you wish to join or renew, we strongly recommend joining (or renewing) online before the event rather than at it to save time and because it's easier.
  • 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.
  • Former QOC members who have let their membership lapse pay non-member fees.
  • 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.