Balls Bluff

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November 1

Balls Bluff

Pre-registration is required and opens Monday Oct. 26 at noon; there is NO day-of registration.

Welcome back to Ball's Bluff Regional Park for a peak-autumn-foliage orienteering event along the high bluffs overlooking the Potomac River near Leesburg, Virginia. Time to run off all that candy consumption from last night's trick-or-treating! This year, registration, start and finish will again be the pavilion at Edwards Landing, a small municipal park that sits adjacent to Ball's Bluff Regional Park near its southern end.

Because of current Loudoun Country Public Schools restrictions on student athletic activities, we will unfortunately not have the LCPS Naval JROTC cadets running the event this season. We look forward to their return in the 2021-2022 season. For those who were at Ball's Bluff last year, the mapping error that led us inadvertently to place points on private land and then, as a result, have to modify some of the courses on site has been rectified, and with the generous permission of the landowner, some points of the southernmost segments of some courses will be placed on his land abutting Ball's Bluff and Edwards Landing parks. Please be mindful of this dispensation as you negotiate the southern parts of your courses.

And speaking of being mindful, don't forget to set your clocks back one hour, as the switch from EDT to EST takes place at 2am on the day of the event, November 1st.

This event requires pre-registration which will open on Monday, 26 October at 12 noon. QOC’s COVID risk reduction protocols, as also enumerated here, are in effect. Please read these guidelines carefully, particularly keeping in mind the need for participants to bring their own water for all their hydration needs before, during, and after their runs/walks.

Parking: Make sure to read these driving and parking directions carefully. Please do not park in the minuscule Edwards Landing Park parking lot unless you are a meet volunteer, nor on Powhatan Court, the narrow cul-de-sac immediately outside of Edwards Landing Park.

We prefer that you park at Ball's Bluff Elementary School as indicated here on this overview map. (The registration site at Edwards Landing is in the lower right corner of the graphic.) Buses and cars can drop participants at the mouth of Powhatan Court before proceeding on to the Elementary School if desired. Because of COVID-19 restrictions, we will NOT be employing a shuttle bus, so there will be a half-mile walk from the elementary school. Public parking along the wide through-streets running near the park (Hunton Place, Graywood Way, and Wood Edge Drive) is also permitted as long as driveways are not blocked, nor the local residents otherwise inconvenienced.

For those who are interested, here is an overview of the Battle of Ball's Bluff, fought on October 21st, 1861.

Balls Bluff The park and battlefield have undergone restoration over the last several years to more accurately reflect its 1861 condition, and attendees will have the opportunity of touring the battlefield area and the associated National Cemetery above the Potomac River. Free Battlefield tours are conducted by expert volunteer tour guides from the group, Friends of Ball's Bluff, every Saturday and Sunday at 11AM and 1PM from early April through the end of November, so orienteers can take part in a guided tour out of the park main parking lot (not Edwards Landing) either before or after they run their courses. Tours include about one mile of walking on woodland trails and last from one to two hours. Please wear your face covering during the tour. Those wishing to take tours on their own may pick up a brochure at the visitor's kiosk in the main parking lot.

Any youth or large groups attending, although you will be pre-registering online, please contact the Event Director of your plans and numbers for his situational awareness.

Other points:

  • PROPERLY WORN MASKS ARE REQUIRED at all times when near registration and epunch areas and their volunteers.
  • Water will not provided in accordance with QOC COVID-19 risk reduction policies. Please plan for your own hydration needs before, during, and after your run/walk.
  • Pets are permitted in the park but must be on the leash at all times.
  • Port-a-johns will be on site.
  • The size of start teams (groups of individuals orienteering together with one e-punch) on a course must be no more than four (4) individuals (juniors and adults combined).
  • There is no planned, on-site beginner instruction, but beginners are encouraged to watch relevant videos such as this one created by QOC's instructional guru David Onkst


Balls Bluff Regional Park, Edwards Landing Pavilion, Leesburg, VA (Classic)

RegistrationAdvance pre-registration (with payment) is required via this link. This event is currently SOLD OUT. If cancellations are received with sufficient time before the event, they will be released up until but no later than 6pm Saturday Oct. 31 (the night before the event).
Who's registered? Check by clicking here. Sorting by column is possible too - just click on the column name.
Start TimesParticipants will register in advance for a specified 15 or 45 minute check-in window (including map pick-up), starting at 9:45am until the final window from 1:15-1:30pm. Each window will be limited to 15 or 45 "starts" (solo individuals or groups).
ScheduleSunday, November 1
10:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Paul Hession
Course Designer:Charles Carrick
Location Details

Balls Bluff Regional Park
Edwards Landing Pavilion
Leesburg, VA
Google Map

Take the Dulles Toll Road or Rt. 7 to the Rt. 15 by-pass in Leesburg. Turn right for about a mile to Battlefield Parkway and then turn right. Balls Bluff Elementary School will be on the right after 0.7 miles. (Some Marylanders may want to use White's Ferry).

Directions to Edwards Landing from the school: From Battlefield Parkway southbound, turn left near the south end of the school to go east on Hunton Place for 0.3 miles, then turn right at the intersection with Graywood Way/Woods Edge Drive and go 0.1 miles before turning left on Powhatan Ct. The entrance to the small Edwards Landing parking area is on the right side of the turnaround circle. Note to those walking: it's just 0.6 miles, but please be especially careful crossing Battlefield Parkway. Click here for an overview map.

Course DetailsClassic
Course NameLength (km)Climb (m)No. Controls
White 21108
Yellow 2.614011
Orange 4.617011
Brown 4.218011
Green 5.922014
Red 7.126016
Blue 8.929018
Course NotesClassic

Starts will be 200 meters down the trail from the Edwards Landing pavilion so that the white-yellow-orange and advanced course starts have some separation; finish is just off the parking lot as usual.

Advanced course legs that involve navigating down to points at the river level have bent lines rather than straight lines running directly over the bluffs. In those cases, the bent line is not the only possible—nor necessarily the best--route choice.

Adjustments have been made to update the state of the vegetation to better reflect the current reality, but there are still many unmapped areas of light green vegetation and unmapped point features such as root stocks, small pits and knolls.

Course map scales will be 1:5000 for the white course, 1:7500 for yellow and brown courses, and 1:10000 for all other courses.

White and yellow courses both have course legs on the trails that run along the high bluffs. Enjoy the view as you walk or run, but watch your step!

Entry FeesIndividual Entries

Note: juniors = under 21

Club Member, adult Club Member, junior Non-Member, adult Non-Member, junior
$10 $5 $20 $5

Group Entries

Participants are welcome to orienteer together as a group (up to the maximum for that event; usually 4). Each member of a group is charged their individual rate as shown above, up to a group total of $30 (maximum), and each receives a map. A group receives one epunch. Individuals or groups desiring to compete on a second course after completing their first can do so for a reduced fee of $2/map subject to approval at the event by the Event Director.

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 will be loaned one 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 (such as car keys) when borrowing a compass or epunch.
  • Free beginner instruction is always available - just ask at the registration table. While COVID-19 policies are in effect, please check out instructional videos online such as those mentioned above in lieu of in-person/at-event instruction.