Great Falls

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November 11

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 to sell out. Registration is now open closed; click here when ready to register. 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. There will be compasses and epunches available to those who requested them during pre-registration, but GPS watches will not be available at this 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. For planning purposes: from our registration area, there's a ~5-10 minute walk of about 600 meters to the start shared by all courses, and a walk back of about 400 meters from the (shared) finish.

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.

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


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

RegistrationPre-registration and payment for this event is now closed possible via this link.
Start TimesStart any time between the specified times (usually 11am - 1:30pm).
ScheduleSunday, November 11
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 2.4809
Intermediate 4.512013
Advanced 8.528025
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.

For the Advanced course, the length is on the long side for those runners who usually run Green or Brown. As in previous years, if you start this course and feel for safety reasons you won't be able to complete it fully, there will be a recommended alternative.

First, a few comments about the map. The map has been minimally updated, generally in areas around control locations and where new vegetation may affect route choices. he light green on the map is almost in all cases young saplings that may or may not slow the runner. At this time of the year visibility in those areas is minimally affected. There will be only a few short legs on the Advanced course where visibility through these saplings may be a problem and cause you to alter your route, but, overall the forest is open and runnable. Rootstocks mapped are at least 1 m in size, older more degraded ones were removed. A large segment in the middle of the map is cross-hatched, i.e. out of bounds. It is permissible to transverse this area on a trail, but NOT permissible to cross this area off trail. Also, the roads bordering the park are OUT OF BOUNDS and are NOT valid route choices. Runners on the Beginner and Intermediate courses will not have this temptation to use the road, but runners on the Advanced course may be tempted towards the end of their course, nonetheless, please don’t use the road.

Now, specific course comments. On the Beginner course, the first leg of your course is along an indistinct trail, this portion will have streamers to get you started. On the Intermediate course, as stated previously, it is OK to cross the cross-hatched area in the middle of the map on an established trail, but not off trail. You may have route choices where the trail though the cross-hatched area is an option. On the Advanced course, if you feel you are tired and unable to complete the entire course, as a safety precaution, the course loops past the finish giving you an obvious way to end your run. And again, please do not use the park entrance road as a route choice option.
As always, enjoy 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
  • If you wish to become a QOC member you should join online in advance 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) can be purchased from online vendors 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.