Great Falls

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November 19

Great Falls Fall Color

Welcome back to C&O NHP! Once again, due to park regulations we require advance registration (with payment), and we are expecting a now sold out event. If you have registered but will not be able to attend, please notify us in advance so others can attend. If people cancel in advance we may release some extra registrations. Whether or not that happens, there will be no day-of registration at the event.

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.

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

Speaking of sensitive areas, the NPS has asked us to remind all participants of the following:

  • Participants should follow compass bearings as close as possible. Participants should not take shortcuts: approved routes are designed specifically to avoid sensitive habitats and known invasive plant populations that may facilitate human-facilitated spread of seeds and berries.
  • Participants should avoid any and all standing water, including seeps, springs, wetlands, and streams. Amphibian diseases have been documented in the area, and human-facilitated movement of such fungal pathogens from habitat to habitat can cause massive die-offs in amphibian species.
  • All participants must avoid stepping in streams and should try to minimize impacts to stream bank vegetation and soils.

Save $8 - Just $9 For A Large Pizza Once Again, 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.

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. Note: we have not confirmed yet that this year the Bike Loaner Program will be operating on our event day.

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


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

RegistrationAdvance registration was required for this event but is now sold out. Individual and most group registrations are listed here.
Start TimesYou may start your course at any time during the start window listed below for your event.
ScheduleSunday, November 19
11:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Greg Lennon
Event Director:Kathleen Lennon
Course Designer:
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 2.6809
Intermediate 4.514012
Advanced 936020
Course NotesClassic

As stated above there are three official courses. The Beginner course map will be at 1:7500 scale while Intermediate and Advanced course maps will be 1:10,000; contour interval is 5m on all maps.

On the Beginner course, in order to avoid a sensitive area, the route to the first control will be streamered with pink streamers, which you must follow.

There are no specific notes about the Intermediate course, but please read the italicized sentences listed above.

On the Advanced course, the length is on the long side for those runners who usually run Green or Brown. If you start this course and feel for safety concerns that you will be unable to complete the last 3 km of the (entire) course, control #14 passes close enough to the finish to provide you with a safe exit from the Advanced course. You will not be DNFed as long as you have punched controls 1 through 14; instead, your time and the number of controls punched will be reported in the results. The Advanced map has many route lines that overlap, with a lot of controls in a fairly constrained space, so make sure you read the map carefully after each control to ensure you are heading to the correct next one.

About the map: The current map is holding up well, and while there may be some minor expanding vegetation in certain areas, at this time of the year the woods are open and very runnable. The light green indicated on the map is almost always areas of closely spaced small saplings. With the leaves off, visibility in these areas will still be good with only minor slowing of running speed. This park is a real treat to orienteer, please adhere to the general NPS restrictions stated in the announcement section of the meet notes.

Enjoy the park and have fun,

-Sam Listwak

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.
  • 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.