The New England Orienteering Club


Bigelow Hollow State Park has a single road, about a mile long, that runs through its central valley and dead ends at Mashapaug Pond.  Parking is in a lot of small lots all along this road.  During warm summer days when swimming and picnicking fill the park to capacity, 180 cars fit before others are turned away.  

Follow directions of the parking attendants and park tight please.  This also means that the combined model map and locator map is key to helping you find each day's start or the way back to your car after the finish--it'll be different depending where you end up parking.

The locator / model map will be hugely helpful to you.  

Parking Priority & Self-Shuttles

Both day's courses have starts and finishes near the park road, but it's about 500m (Day 1) or 1000m (Day 2) between them.  Obviously, you can only park close to start or finish.   So...

The parking attendants will give close-to-the-start parking priority to cars with (multiple) Brown runners.  The parking attendants will give close-to-the-finish parking priority to cars with families & small children.  The young, healthy elites (thanks USMAOC), late arrivals, and possibly single drivers (carpool if you can) are likely to be diverted to parking that's a little farther.   If the separated distances are a problem for someone in your vehicle or those parked near you, please self-organize a quick self-shuttle.

Walk to Start.  

Day 1 (Sat):  The call-up to start is right at the corner of the first parking lot.  You will see the start sign as you drive in, soon after passing the (unmanned) toll booth.

Day 2 (Sun):  The call-up to start is a six-minute (400m) uphill (55m elevation gain) up, starting from the main trail parking (Day 1's arena).  Watch the slippery bridges.

Clothing Drop & Return:  Both days will have a clothing drop near the start where we will transport items to the finish arena.  

Start Procedure (Orange - Brown - Green - Red - Blue):  You will be called to the line two minutes before your start time to check in. One minute before your start time you will advance to where maps are available. Write your name or number on the back of the map. You may ask the attendant to check that you have the right map, but do not look at the map before you punch the start. At your start time you will punch the start control and head for the first control. 

Start Procedure (White - Yellow):  We are using Orienteering USA's "Map Preview" option for youth on White & Yellow.  All White & Yellow courses are open starts at any time during the start window.  Meet volunteers will ensure a minimum of 2-minutes between competitors on the same course.  Start procedures for M/F-10, M/F-12, M/F-14, and youth on recreational White and Yellow courses:

Clear and check your e-punch when you arrive at the start area. Advance to the call-up line and check in with a volunteer. You will receive your map and loose control descriptions here. If desired, preview the map with a coach or event volunteer. You may discuss anything during this time, such as orienting the map, planning your routes, recognizing boundary features, checking control codes, and punching. When ready to start, check back in with a volunteer before starting so there is adequate time between others starting on your course.  At this point, you've formally exited the coaching process – the course is now an individual effort. You must punch the start control before heading off to the first control. 

SportIdent ActiveCard (SIAC) Users:

  • An SIAC BATTERY TEST station will be available at each Day's Recreation Registration able, along with brief instructions.  The SIAC will always work in direct punching mode, even if its battery is empty.
  • CLEAR and CHECK your SIAC as normal when awaiting call-up to start.  Reminder:  The CHECK station switches on your SIAC with a normal beep & flash sequence.  After that, there is a (faint) green LED flash (at 4 second intervals).  But, CHECK will not work if your SIAC is still doing its six-second flash/beep from the CLEAR station.  Be a little patient...
  • After passing the call-up line, CHECK your SIAC again.  Second CHECKs do NOT turn off SIACs. 
  • At the intermediate call-up line (where cluesheets are), there is an SIAC TEST station (in beacon mode) you can use to verify your SIAC is activated. 
  • All users, including SIAC users, must directly punch the START box.  It is NOT in beacon mode.

Download: After completing your course, please go directly to download. You will be asked to deposit your map in a bin, if the start window is still open; otherwise, keep your map. Maps from the collection bin will be available for pick-up as soon as everyone has started.

Live Results:  There will be no computer screen of scrolling results.  Use your own smartphone to access live results.  Look for the QR codes around the Download/Finish area.  

Time Limit:  All courses have a time limit of 3 hours.  To prevent needless search & rescue operations, any competitor who exceeds this time limit must abandon their course and move expeditiously to Finish/Download.  All competitors, including those who do not finish their courses, must punch finish and download—this is how we know you are safely out of the woods.

Calling all Youth.  All youth orienteers (very young up through college-aged) are invited to hangimage out near the finish. Come and meet some other young people who like to orienteer, talk about how your course went, and enjoy some Halloween candy. Current and former members of the Junior / Youth Development Program are invited to wear their Eagle jerseys.  Look for the Eagle kite.

Awards will be given based on combined time from the two days.  

Complaints & protests will be handled in accordance with OUSA rules of competition (in writing to organizers...within 1 hour of course closure).

Course Setter Notes

I suspect that for most attendees, the courses you run at Bigelow Hollow will be some of the most challenging navigation you do this year.  Besides it being a new map with unfamiliar terrain, the park has bland & vague areas, super-detailed areas, wide open woods, and thicker vegetation with mapped corridors.  The course team (mapper, designer, consultant, setter, vetter) have all worked hard to bring you plenty of route choice and to force you to switch navigation styles to match the different areas of the park.  My two nuggets of advice:  don’t run “up” a course and bring your “A” game.  -Jon Campbell

General Safety

  1. Safety bearing is NW (Sat) and SE (Sun) to the main park road.  The map is well-bounded in all directions except NE, where you’ll be well into Mass. before you encounter a road or house.
  2. All competitors are required to carry a whistle.  Start crew may check.  Whistles are available at or on the way to start.  3-whistle blasts at intervals is the universal distress signal.
  3. Any footbridge (on Model & on the walk to Sunday’s start) is likely damp and VERY slippery.
  4. The traffic on the road inside the park is slow and will mostly be fellow orienteers.  Drive, walk along, or cross carefully.  
  5. Until first frost, ground wasp nests or paper wasp nests (in trees) are a potential hazard.  Those with bee-sting allergies should plan accordingly.
  6. All courses have water stops on the course.  Please use a cup–don’t drink from the bottle.  Some courses have water at marked “water stops” in addition to control locations.   If they seem very out-of-the-way for you, they weren’t really intended for your courses, but they are marked on all maps for fairness.

I spent a lot of time in these woods with Carl’s excellent map.  It was mapped to the latest international orienteering mapping standards (ISOM 2017-2) using LiDAR and with extensive field checking.  He took the time to survey and draft the detail accurately and legibly.  Here are my observations:

General Comments for the Whole Event (Model, Sat, Sun)

  1. Check Control Codes  You are likely to see control markers that aren’t yours.  Some areas are densely packed with controls as little as 30 meters apart (if on significantly different features).  A quick look at an All-Controls map usually suffices to convince those who have mispunched what happened.  I’ll laugh and without sympathy say: “Gotcha…”  You’ve been warned.
  2. Trails
    1. Trails vs open forest.  In the popular parts of the park (picnic & swimming areas), only the most prominent trails are mapped.  A heavy network of “social” trails in a small area may be generalized as open forest (white woods on map).
    2. Deep in the woods, you may encounter trail blazes (paint marks on trees) without a trail under foot.  These are old, re-routed sections of trail long reclaimed by the forest.  They are not on the map.
  3. Valley marshes can be slow.  Although small marshes are generally only wet, the long marshes in the valleys, whether mapped as marsh or indistinct/seasonal marsh, tend to be slow running but usually have good visibility.  They are wet and also rocky.  
  4. Rock features.  The “rock gardens” of Bigelow Hollow were a challenge to map.  I’ve found a consistent interpretation and simplification in Carl’s mapping.
    1. Every rock is not on this map.  You’ll appreciate that the too-small boulders are not on the map.  Since this is Connecticut, the entire map could be covered with the little black dots of stony ground–it’s not.  Only prominent areas which affect runnability are shown with stony ground dots.  
    2. Boulders.  All three sizes of boulder symbol are used often on this map, plus there are some so large they are mapped to scale/shape.  Large boulders are >2m high.  Small boulders are ≥ 1m. The “medium” boulder symbol distinguishes prominent ones from others nearby.  Naturally, in very rocky areas, the threshold for mapped boulders is higher.
    3. Dot knoll vs. boulder.  There are some traditional dirt knolls.  There are also some mapped knolls that, were you to scrape off some moss and leaves and pull out a sapling or two, would look like a boulder sticking up.  
    4. Cliff vs. boulder.  Particularly from below, you might see what looks like a boulder but you can only find a cliff on the map.  On closer inspection, you’ll find the “high side” of your supposed boulder is buried, so it’s more cliff than boulder.  Stop inspecting–you’re losing time…
    5. Boulder cluster.  Although the boulder cluster symbol is fairly large & prominent, it can represent as few as two otherwise mappable boulders.   
    6. Cliffs & Cliff tags.   Reminder that uncrossable and crossable cliffs are distinguished by the thickness of the main line.  I’ve found the cliffs with tags often have a horizontal aspect to them, but not so much as to be mapped as bare rock.  Cliffs with tags may not be the most prominent.  
  5. Vegetation mapping.  I found the vegetation well mapped according to runnability: full speed, slow run, walk, fight.  Check it out on the model map.  Setters, vetters, and test runners all found the vegetation mapping extremely helpful in navigation.
    1. Green.  Most medium green (walk) and dark green (fight) are mountain laurel thickets.  See model.
    2. Too-small areas of green are generalized away.
    3. Non-beginner courses (Orange & higher) all have legs where it will be advantageous to choose routes and navigate using the vegetation.  The mapped corridors are there.  
  6. Rootstocks.  You may find some rootstocks (windstorm-blown tree rootballs), some quite large, mainly in the marshy valleys.  No rootstocks are mapped, regardless of size.



  1. See general comments.
  2. This small area around the lake packs in much of the varied detail of the park.  The control locations were picked on purpose to illustrate parts of these course notes, and most every feature mentioned can be found on the model map.  Take the time to check out at least portions of the model area.  You are parked on it after all.


Day 1 (Sat)

  1. See general comments.
  2. Red & Blue course runners, may, toward the middle of their courses, choose a route that takes them through a small burned section of forest from a recent, small, contained forest fire.  It is not shown on the map and is the same runnability as before the burn.
  3. White course steamering.  The white course follows a stream between trails with controls at both the trail/stream crossings.  It is signed with “White Course.  Follow the white flagging along the stream to your next control.”  


Day 2 (Sun)

  1. See general comments.
  2. Highway caution.  The highway (CT-171) on the SW edge of the map is a 55-mph road.  Beginner courses (W & Y) go nowhere near this road.  It mostly has adequate (but not wide) shoulders.  For short stretches, it is constricted by guardrails.  Stay on the park/map side of the road–drivers have long fields of view at the few constricted sections.   
  3. Red & Blue course road crossings.  These courses will cross the park road (out and back) at a place of the competitor’s choosing.  Use caution and cross at the time/location of your choosing.
  4. Point feature in medium green.  All advanced courses (Brown & above) share the only point feature (pit) in medium green of the weekend.  It may sound terrible–you’ll find it’s not bad.  
  5. White course streamering.  The white course follows a stone wall and then across woods to a forest road.  It is signed with “White Course.  Follow the white flagging to your next control.”  
  6. Blue Day 2 will have a map flip midway through the course.  Blue2 maps are double-sided. [Update: 10/5/22]