Swanson Road

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May 7

Pre-registration is required and will open on Monday, May 1 at 6pm and will close at Noon Saturday May 6. There will be no day-of registration.

Quantico Orienteering Club is pleased to announce our return to the Upper Marlboro Natural Area. With about 900 acres along the western shore of the Patuxent River, it provides a mix of mid-Atlantic spur and reentrant terrain with Patuxent River lowlands.

Course Setters Russ Damtoft and Mike Manteuffel have prepared a set of classic courses, from White to Blue (beginner through advanced). Course details and comments are now posted below.

Free Beginner Instruction will be offered, but please reach out to the Event Director if you have a group, so we can plan accordingly. Also, make sure to check out our Your First Event and For Beginners webpages. Beginners are also encouraged to watch relevant videos such as this one created by QOC's instructional guru David Onkst. If they don’t answer any remaining questions you have, just use our Contact Form and ask.

Junior training will also be offered at this event starting at 10am. If you have children between the ages of 10 and 21 who can already orienteer on their own, bring them to meet coaches Adam Smith, John Cumings, and Alex Merka. They have a fun hour of orienteering instruction planned for QOC juniors wishing to improve their skills. [Junior training is an ongoing program and is separate from beginner training, which is designed to get orienteers of all ages out on the trail at that event.] If you have any questions about Junior training, contact any coach (by clicking on their names).

Group Leaders: Please see our For Group Leaders page if you are leading a youth or large group – even though you will be pre-registering online. Please contact the Event Director (link below) to make them aware of your plans and numbers.

Check in will open about 9:45am and courses will open at 10:00am. Everyone must be out of the woods and back at the registration/finish area by 3:00pm when we will begin picking up the controls. Allow yourself time to get back to the registration area and download regardless of whether you have finished. We want to make sure of everyone’s safety and status.

Panera Bread Post-Race MeetUp! For those so inclined, after your run head to the Bowie Town Center Panera Bread cafe (located here) to hang out and discuss your orienteering triumphs and challenges!


  • QOC will continue to use pre-registration as the ONLY method of signing up for our meets. There will be NO day-of, on-site registration. Refunds are paid only in the case of event cancellation.
  • Masks are optional at all locations connected with the event. Please continue to minimize clustering at and around the check-in, e-punch, start and finish areas.
  • As mentioned above, beginner instruction has resumed to provide an overview of orienteering basics for newcomers to the sport or those who just want a refresher.
  • There is no water on the course. Participants are responsible for their own hydration. A very limited supply of bottled water for emergency use will be on hand with the Meet Director; but it is vital to stay well hydrated. Please come prepared!
  • There will be no snacks offered by QOC.
  • For this event (as with most others this season) there will be eight 15-minute check-in windows followed by two 45-minute windows.
  • There are no pavilions or park shelters at this registration/parking area.
  • Bring appropriate clothing for weather conditions.
  • 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).
  • Pets are permitted in the park but must be leashed at all times.
  • Port-a-johns will be on site.


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

RegistrationRegistration for this event opens at 6pm on Monday May 1 via this link. Registration will close at 12 noon on Saturday May 6 (the day before the event). Pre-registration is mandatory.

Who's registered? Check by clicking here. Sorting by column is possible too - click on the column name.

Start TimesStart times will be by windows (to be defined for this event before registration opens).
ScheduleSunday, May 7
10:00 am - 3:00 pmClassic:
Event Director:Sharmagh Yepremian
Course Designer:Russ Damtoft
Course Designer:Mike Manteuffel
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 1.5159
Yellow 2.85010
Orange 3.51209
Brown 3.3809
Green 4.211011
Red 7.221516
Blue 10.128524
Course NotesClassic

This is a great course which doesn’t get a whole lot of recreational use, so it hasn’t been beaten down by the crowds over the years. The terrain is varied, ranging from steep ravines to river bottoms, open fields to forest. Thorns and thick vegetation aren’t too bad. There are a few trails, but for advanced courses it’s mostly going to be a matter of navigating by terrain and vegetation.

A few points of caution: The Prince George's Radio Control Club has an airstrip in the southern portion of the map. Strictly off limits. To the west and south of the airstrip, there appears to be some kind of bootleg motocross track with yellow caution streamers between trees. Red and Blue will go through this area. Yellow caution tape should not interfere with routes and can be ignored. The other open fields to the north, affecting Blue, Green, and Red, have had various types of crops and orchards growing in them, so expect stumps and cornstalks. These have been cultivated in past years, but as of early April, there was no sign of it this year. Some courses come very close to the park property line – please stay “in bounds.”

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.
  • In addition to free on-site beginner instruction if needed, beginners are encouraged to watch relevant videos such as this one created by QOC's instructional guru David Onkst